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


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

1- Mission : On September 4th 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.

2- 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 15th at which time the London CP was closed, Division Headquarters was established aboard the Reina del Pacifico on October 16th 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 closing in about Sept 10, CT-26 Sept 18, and CT-16 Sept 22. Movements of equipment to Ports of Embarkation was begun on Oct 7 and, of personnel, on Oct 12. By Oct 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 Sept 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, Oct 4, 1942 is shown on attached Overlay #1 and is embodied in FO 1, Headquarters 1st Infantry Division, Oct 10, 1942.

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

4. Operations : Times indicated, ‘Z – time’ are Greenwich Mean Time.

– a. Nov 8th
(1) CT 16 landing on Z-White beach at 0105-Z without serious initial opposition. 1st Bn 16th Inf, rein, on left, cleared Z-Red beach for the landing of CCB 1st Armored Division, 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. 3rd Bn 16th Inf, rein, on right, advanced to St Eloi – Fleurus by dawn against slight opposition.

(2) CT 18 landed on Z-Green beach at 0057-Z without serious initial opposition. 3rd Bn 18th Inf, 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. 1st Bn 18th Inf, rein, advanced to vicinity of St Cloud where it was halted by heavy opposition. 2nd Bn 18th Inf, rein, followed 1st Bn 18th Inf.

(3) 1st Ranger Battalion, attached to 1st Inf Div, 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.

(4) CT 26 landed at Y beach at 0120-Z without opposition. 3d Bn 26th Inf, rein, advanced to Djebel Murdjadjo encountering initial resistance at 0630-Z in the vicinity of Fme St Maria where it was halted. 2d Bn 26th Inf, rein, advance to Ain El Turk where it was held up by enemy fire. Co G moved to El Ancor to protect the rear of the CT. 1st Bn 26th Inf, rein, in reserve followed 2nd Bn 26th Inf. Co C was sent to reinforce the 2d Bn before Ain El Turk.

(5) Division CP opened at Tourville at 0745-Z.

(6) The situation at the close of Nov 8 is shown on attached Overlay No 2.

b. Nov 9th

(1) CT 16, 1st Bn 16th Inf, 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 1st Bn 19th Engineers Combat Bn and one company 1st Ranger Bn and the counterattack was definitely repulsed by noon with the bridgehead at La Macta reestablished. Thereafter the situation at La Macta remained stabilized. 3rd Bn 16th Inf advanced via Fleurus – Assi Ameur – Assi Ben Okba thence northwest to the southern slopes of Djebel Khar. 2d Bn 16th Inf advanced on Oran via Fleurus – Assi Ameur – Assi Bou Nif to about 3 miles west of the latter against enemy opposition. 1st Bn 16th Inf was relieved at La Macta by the 19th ECB and moved to Fleurus.

(2) CT 18, During the morning hours CT 18, assisted by K Co CT 16 and a section of the 1st Rcn Troop attacking north from Fleurus, continued the attack on St Cloud. Forward elements entered the village but were unable to quickly mop up snipers. Orders were issued to contain St Cloud with the 1st Bn and bypass the other two Bns for continuation of mission to drive on Oran. St Cloud was contained by 1st Bn 18th Inf, with one company 1st Ranger Bn attached. The 2nd and 3rd Bns 18th Inf by-passed St Cloud to the south and north respectively and the 2nd Bn followed by the 3rd Bn reached a point about 3 miles east of Arcole by nightfall.

(3) CT 26, 2nd Bn 26th Inf, rein, attacked Ain El Turck successfully and organized the town. 3rd Bn 26th Inf, rein, unsuccessfully attacked Fme St Maria. Late in the day 1st Bn 26th Inf advanced to the support of the 3rd Bn.

(4) Division CP opened at Renan at 0821-Z.

(5) 1st Ranger Bn, less two companies, organized Arzew.

c Nov 10th

(1) CT 18, 1st Bn 18th Inf, rein, continued to contain St Cloud. Of 18, less 1st Bn, continued advance and entered outskirts of Oran at 1000-Z, the town itself at 1200-Z by 2d Bn. The 3rd Bn entered Oran, after capturing Battery du Canestel, at 1305-Z.

(2) CT 16, CT 16 with 1st and 2nd Bns 16th Inf abreast followed by 3rd Bn advanced against lessening resistance, the leading elements entering Oran at 0830-Z, the city was occupied by 1300-Z.

(3) CT 26, CT 26 successfully attacked Fme St Maria, advance to the east and occupied the heights of Djebel Murdjadjo dominating Oran.

(4) Division CP established at Fleurus at 0335-Z, at Assi Bou Nif at 0810-Z, and at Fme St Jean le Baptiste at 1150-Z.

d. Field Orders
5. Reorganization
Organization of the Oran area was begun immediately upon the fall of the city and completed on Nov 15. 1st Engr Bn secured the dock areas after occupation of Oran and policed the dock areas until Nov 14.

6. 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
– Missing 66 EM

7. Recommendations
As a result of the operation just completed the following pertinent recommendations are submitted :
– a. That prior to an expedition troops involved be assembled, or kept assembled, in the staging area so that they may be moved direct from the staging area to the port of embarkation, thence to ships. In this particular case the Division was widely separated for training purposes and the administrative difficulties of checking supply and distributing orders was a source of unnecessary confusion.

– b. That available shipping be definitely known and assigned as the basic factor on which all planning is based on available shipping, but that unless combat units are assault loaded they cannot land prepared to meet stiff opposition.

– d. The proportion of personnel landing craft and vehicle landing craft should be carefully balanced so that personnel and their heavy equipment will be landed together.

– e. Tactically, the ideal formation for landing is combat teams abreast, I each in column of battalions. This permits better organization of the beach and correspondingly simplifies shore logistics. Since an amphibious operation is largely logistical any means of simplifying this problem should be followed.

– f. Any preliminary practice prior to sailing of an amphibious expedition should be completed in sufficient time to permit a complete overhaul of all equipment used in the practice and great care should be taken to ascertain availability of replacement items prior to risking the damage to vital equipment in an exercise.

– g. Planning must be complete and detailed and all orders issued prior to sailing because it is impossible thereafter to distribute orders and information. Secrecy must be preserved, but at the same time individuals in command and staff positions must know the plans and have an opportunity to study same. Failure in the complete dissemination of orders and information might nullify the effect of the best laid plans.

– h. The one single factor which contributed most to the success of this operation was the joint planning in London where the army staffs and navy staffs worked side by side throughout the whole planning stage. The capabilities and limitations of each service was made known to the other with the result that the final plan, as executed, had not only the confidence of, but also, the complete understanding of both services. This joint planning is considered essential for the success of an amphibious operation.

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