1st Infantry Division (Torch) Z & Y Beaches (08-11-1942)

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The following archive is the G-3 report of the participation of the 1st Infantry Division in the Torch Operation in North Africa. It is submitted in compliance with AR 345-105. G-3 Journal herewith as Annex #1.

Mission

On September 4, the 1st Infantry Division was given the mission of landing on Z and Y beaches at 0100 November 8 1942, capturing Arzew and Oran and the port facilities therein also to seize certain Axis agents and sympathizers.

Planning and Preparation

An advance command post of the Division was set up at Norfolk House, London to plan the operation in conjunction with the British Navy, II Corps and Allied Force Headquarter. Planning for the operation and preparation of the initial field order was completed on October 15 at which time the London CP was closed, Division Headquarters was established aboard the Reina del Pacifico on October 16 with an alternate headquarters aboard the Warwick Castle.

Combat Teams were moved from Tidworth Barracks to the Glasgow Scotland area for special training (amphibious); CT-18 (18-IR) closing in about September 10, CT-26 (26-IR) September 18, and CT-16 (16-IR) September 22. Movements of equipment to Ports of Embarkation was begun on October 7 and of personnel, on October 12. By October 16, all personnel were loaded on personnel ships to be used for the operation.

Landing exercise in practice for the actual operation was held on September 18-19. On completion of the exercise personnel ships returned to the Clyde to finish loading of supplies. The scheme of maneuver in compliance with Field Order 1 Headquarters II Corps, October 4, 1942 is shown on attached Overlay #1 and is embodied in FO 1, Headquarters 1st Infantry Division, October 10 1942.


Voyage

The Division was embarked on eleven personal-ships and nine cargo vessels and sailed from the Clyde on October 26 with a British naval escort. The voyage was without incident. The convoy remained in the Atlantic Ocean until November 6 passing through the Straight of Gibraltar after dark that date. Division reached its destination at 1145 November 7 at which time debarkation into landing boats began.

Operations – Times indicated ‘Z-time’ are Greenwich Mean Time.
November 8

Combat Team 16 landing on Z-White beach at 0105-Z without serious initial opposition. The 1/16-IR, rein, on left, cleared Z-Red beach for the landing of Combat Command B (1-AD), moved to La Macta capturing the latter against some opposition. One company occupied Port aux Poules, one company En Nekala, and the battalion (less 2 companies) La Macta. The 3/16-IR, rein, on right, advanced to Saint Eloi – Fleurus by dawn against slight opposition.

Combat Team 18 landed on Z-Green beach at 0057-Z without serious initial opposition. The 3/18-IR, rein, on right, advanced north into Arzew against opposition and completed occupation of the town by 0840-Z. Resistance at Arzew entailed some delay in the landing of subsequent waves because transports could not move to the close-in anchorages at an early hour. The 1/18-IR, rein, advanced to the vicinity of Saint Cloud where it was halted by heavy opposition. The 2/18-IR, rein, followed 1/18-IR.

The 1st Ranger Battalion, attached to 1-ID, landed at Arzew with 2 companies and about 2 miles north thereof with the remainder of the battalion and captured the sea-coast defense at Fort de la Pointe and North Battery by 0159-Z.

Combat Team 26 landed at Y beach at 0120-Z without opposition. 3/26-IR, rein, advanced to Djebel Murdjadjo encountering initial resistance at 0630-Z in the vicinity of la Ferme Sainte Maria where it was halted. The 2/26-IR, rein, advance to Ain El Turk where it was held up by enemy fire. George Co moved to El Ancor to protect the rear of the Combat Team. The 1/26-IR, rein, in reserve followed the 2/26-IR. Charlie Co was sent to reinforce the 2/26-IR before Ain El Turk.

Division Command Post opened at Tourville at 0745-Z.

The situation at the close of November 8 is shown on attached Overlay No 2.

November 9

Combat Team 16, 1/16-IR, rein, was counterattacked from the east and south. At one time enemy troops penetrated between Port aux Poules and La Macta. This battalion was reinforced by 1/19-ECB (Engineers) and one company 1-RB (Rangers) and the counterattack was definitely repulsed by noon with the bridgehead at La Macta reestablished. Thereafter the situation at La Macta remained stabilized. The 3/16-IR advanced via Fleurus – Assi Ameur – Assi Ben Okba thence northwest to the southern slopes of Djebel Khar. The 2/16-IR advanced on Oran via Fleurus – Assi Ameur – Assi Bou Nif to about 3 miles west of the latter against enemy opposition. The 1/16-IR was relieved at La Macta by the 19-ECB (Engineers) and moved to Fleurus.

Combat Team 18, during the morning hours CT 18, assisted by King Co (16-IR) and a section of the 1st Recon Troop attacking north from Fleurus, continued the attack on Saint Cloud. Forward elements entered the village but were unable to quickly mop up snipers. Orders were issued to contain Saint Cloud with the 1/18-IR and bypass the other two battalions for continuation of mission to drive on Oran. Saint Cloud was contained by 1/18-IR, with one company of the 1st Ranger Battalion attached. The 2/18-IR and the 3/18-IR by-passed Saint Cloud to the south and north respectively and the 2/18-IR followed by the 3/18-IR reached a point about 3 miles east of Arcole by nightfall.

Combat Team 26, the 2/26-IR, rein, attacked Ain El Turck successfully and organized the town. The 3/26-IR, rein, unsuccessfully attacked la Ferme Sainte Maria. Late in the day, the 1/26-IR advanced to support the 3/26-IR.

Division Command Post opened at Renan at 0821-Z.

The 1-RB, less two companies, organized Arzew.

November 10

Combat Team 18, the 1/18-IR, rein, continued to contain Saint Cloud. CT 18, less 1/18, continued advance and entered outskirts of Oran at 1000-Z, the town itself at 1200-Z by 2/18. The 3/18 entered Oran, after capturing the Battery du Canestel, at 1305-Z.

Combat Team 16, the 16-IR with 1/16 and 2/16 abreast followed by 3/16 advanced against lessening resistance, the leading elements entering Oran at 0830-Z, the city was occupied by 1300-Z.

Combat Team 26, the 26-IR successfully attacked la Ferme Sainte Maria, advance to the east and occupied the heights of Djebel Murdjadjo dominating Oran.

Division Command Post established at Fleurus at 0335-Z, at Assi Bou Nif at 0810-Z, and at la Ferme Saint Jean Baptiste at 1150-Z.

Field Orders
Reorganization

Organization of the Oran area was begun immediately upon the fall of the city and completed on November 15. The 1-ECB secured the dock areas after occupation of Oran and policed the dock areas until November 14.

Casualties

The Division suffered the following casualties during the operation : Dead, 9 off 85 EM; Seriously wounded 4 off 69 EM; Slightly wounded 10 off 168 EM; Missing in action 7 EM and Missing 66 EM.

S. B. MASON
Lt Col., G. S. C.
A. C. of S., G-3

For all purposes :
European Center of Military History
Gunter ‘Doc Snafu’ Gillot
rue des Thiers 8
Francorchamps 4970
Belgium
Email : gunter [at] eucmh.be





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(NB : Published for Good – March 2019)

 

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