Saturday, March 9, 2013

vignettes from a world at war (2)

During WW2 a bold, imaginative and daring plan was developed by the Allies, i.e., to land troops and war supplies on the coast of North Africa. 

'It was the first large amphibious operation by the United States in forty-five years, and the most audacious ever'. ( pg 31, An Army At Dawn):

'with luck'

three hundred warships
and nearly 400 transports and cargo vessels
would land more than 100,000 troops
- three-quarters of them American,
the rest British -
in North Africa.
Task Force 34
would sail for Morocco
on Saturday morning.
The other armada would leave Britain
shortly thereafter for Algeria.

with luck, the Vichy French
controlling North Africa
would not oppose the landings.

[pg. 31, An Army At Dawn, re Operation TORCH]

[Photo from An Army At Dawn"American troops landing
at Fedala, Morocco, on Sunday, November 8, 1942"]

My father was on the 'other armada'.

In his navy memoirs he says 'we left Greenock (Scotland) in October, 1943 with our LCMs (landing craft mechanized) aboard a ship called Derwentdale... she was an oil tanker and the food was short... little did we know we were bound for North Africa.' (pg. 23, "Dad, Well Done")

As well, little did he know about the amount of work - and in what conditions - that faced him and his ship-mates as they approached Algeria. His notes tell the tale:

'working like bees'

on November 11, (1942) the Derwentdale
dropped anchor off Arzew in North Africa
and different ships were distributed
at different intervals along the vast coast...
at around midnight over the sides went the LCMs,
ours with a bulldozer and heavy mesh wire,
and about 500 feet from shore we ran aground.
when morning came we were still there,
as big as life and all alone,
while everyone else
was working like bees.

Soon he was as busy as a bee himself. And learning to keep his head down.

Photos by GH


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