The Campaign for North Africa (1942)
Map from The Campaign for North Africa, Page 83
Context for Combined Operations' activities at Beach Z, east of Oran, North Africa, is provided by the following two excerpts from The Campaign for North Africa by Jack Coggins.
Center Task Force Landings
"Once the first waves hit the beach"
At dusk on November 7 the Center Task Force,
fast and slow convoys now united, turned back
from its eastward course (one pointing toward Malta)
and steamed south for the 3 landing beaches (X, Y, Z).
The columns for each section had already been formed,
and left the others in turn for their respective stations.
Beacon submarines were in position off each beach,
and these boats were located about 2130.
British doctrine called for launches to be sent
to each submarine to pick up piloting officers.
Each of these launches would then join the landing craft
and guide the leading waves in to the assigned beaches.
The submarines, meanwhile, would proceed
closer inshore and drop off teams in collapsible boats
who would station themselves even closer to the beaches.
Once the first waves hit the beach, the transport -
some 7 miles offshore - would move in closer to
the beaches through channels
swept clear of possible mines.
Various landing craft, from The Campaign for North Africa, Page 69
The Main Landings
"harassing fire - it was quickly silenced"
The main landings were in the Golfe D'Arzeu, either
at the town itself or on the "Z" beaches to the east.
Here 34 transports and over 20 escorting warships
prepared to land the 16th and 18th Regimental Combat
Teams and Task Force Red. A Ranger force was
to land north of the town and capture two coastal-
defense batteries there while others took the town.
At H-Hour four companies of Rangers swarmed ashore,
scaled the cliffs of Cap Carbon, and took the battery at
Fort du Nord from the rear after a brief skirmish.
Two more companies in small boats entered the little
harbor at Arzeu, surprised the garrison, and took the guns
at Fort de la Pointe (aided by an American captain in the
Foreign legion stationed at the fort).
Darby Rangers in training; preparing for the North Africa Landing
(US Army Photo) Photo Credit to Darby's Rangers
As a green flare announced the success of this under-taking,
a mixed U.S. and British naval party entered in a landing
craft and seized 4 small vessels moored in the harbor.
The port was put to immediate use, and although harassing
fire opened up at daylight, it was quickly silenced.
The three beaches in "Z" Sector were good,
though exposed, with easy approaches.
The 'Canadians in Combined Ops' Connection
What follows is an excerpt from the memoirs of Canadian L/S Coxswain Doug Harrison (Chapter 5, "DAD, WELL DONE")
"Everyone Else Was Working Like Bees"
My group went through much more training at H.M.S. Quebec
and then we entrained for Liverpool. We left Greenock in
October, 1942 with our LCMs aboard a ship called Derwentdale,
sister ship to Ennerdale. The 80th and 81st flotillas, as we are now called,
were split between the Derwentdale and Ennerdale in convoy,
and little did we know we were bound for North Africa.
I became an A/B Seaman (Able-bodied) on this trip
and passed my exams classed very good.
We had American soldiers aboard and an Italian in our mess
who had been a cook before the war... however...
we nicknamed the Derwentdale the H.M.S. Starvation.
in Combined Ops.) from liner REINA DEL PACIFICO during Operation
'Torch', Allied landings in North Africa, November 1942.
Photo credit - Imperial War Museum, London, UK
One November morning the huge convoy, perhaps 500 ships,
entered the Mediterranean Sea through the Strait of Gibraltar.
It was a nice sun-shiny day... what a sight to behold.
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.
My LCM had the leading officer aboard, another seaman
besides me, along with a stoker and Coxswain.
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.
American troops landing on the beach at Arzeu, near Oran, from a
landing craft assault (LCA 26, manned by Canadians), some of
them are carrying boxes of supplies. Photo credit - IWM
There was little or no resistance, only snipers, and I kept
behind the bulldozer blade when they opened up at us.
We were towed off eventually and landed in another spot, and
once the bulldozer was unloaded the shuttle service began.
For ‘ship to shore’ service we were loaded with five gallon
jerry cans of gasoline. I worked 92 hours straight and
I ate nothing except for some grapefruit juice I stole.
Chapter FIVE. SCOTLAND AGAIN, THEN NORTH AFRICA
Link to Passages: Comox Spit and Polish
Unattributed Photos by GH