Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Video: Fox Movietone Newsreels - North Africa, 1942.

The Invasion of N. Africa, November 8, 1942.

["This way, boys." A Canadian in Combined Ops leads the way for U.S. Troops]


As time goes by, more and more valuable material about World War 2 is being presented by war museums, university archives, etc., in very good quality. Occasionally, the material provides a glimpse of the role of Canadians in Combined Operations.

While looking at a digitized version of The Winnipeg Tribune (e.g., a collection of 1943 issues) I noticed that Winnipeg movie theatres were presenting news reels about many significant events (and not so significant, if viewers were not interested in Harvard or Yale football scores).

First-hand details about the invasion of North Africa, Sicily, Italy (and much more) were provided in short newsreels before the latest feature film hit the screen:

The Canadian Paramount News agency, mentioned above, was but one of several producers and distributors of newsreels, and more research needs to be done by this Editor to find that agency's cache of WW2 reels.

That being said, a cache of newsreels produced by Fox Movietone News has been located and I will provide links to several on this site (a few at a time) that reveal more about the role played by Canadians in Combined Operations during significant D-Days between 1942 - 1944.

One link provided with this entry is connected to the invasion of North Africa and reveals the scene depicted in the top photo - a Canadian member of RCNVR and Combined Ops leading US troops to the shores of North Africa on Nov. 8, 1942 at Arzeu. (The sailor very closely resembles my father, and he was serving at Arzeu on that day.)

About Arzeu, Clayton Marks of London, Ontario writes:

At Arzew, Z beach had been selected for the biggest of the three landings - here the S.N.O.L. was Captain Q.D. Graham. The assault craft lost cohesion, and instead of touching down simultaneously they arrived piecemeal over a period of more than twenty minutes. The American Commander insisted on sending so much gear ashore with his men that the landings from the LCM Flotilla were delayed by nearly two hours and the whole program fell more and more behind the clock. The troops went ashore greatly overloaded, and here again, any opposition would have been disastrous. (Page 68, Combined Operations)

And I found the following statements about those days in my father's Navy memoirs;

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.

Our Coxswain was L/S Jack Dean of Toronto and our officer was Lt. McDonald RNR. After the 92 hours my officer said, “Well done. An excellent job, Harrison. Go to Reina Del Pacifico and rest.” 

But first the Americans brought in a half track (they found out snipers were in a train station) and shelled the building to the ground level. No more snipers. ("DAD, WELL DONE")

It sounds like, according to two Canadians, that the Americans slowed down the transportation process by bringing in lots of supplies but speeded up the establishment of a beachhead by having lots of ammo.

So, I call it a draw. (Canadians are known for their ability to compromise : )

US troops disembark from British landing crafts manned by Canadian sailors.
November 8, 1942. ALC 426, left. Photo - Imperial War Museum (IWM).

Please link to the following newsreels, as found at the University of South Carolina:

1. The U.S. Invasion of (North) Africa - Volume 25, Number 22, from Nov. 21, 1942.

Includes scenes of the world's largest armada up to that date; busy landing crafts; landings.

Film and audio quality is very good at full screen.

2. A Year of War Since Pearl Harbour - Volume 25, Number 24, from Nov. 28, 1942.

Includes video from which the top still photo was taken.

3. Rickenbacker Alive After 24 Days on Raft - Volume 25, Number 21, Nov. 18, 1942.

Includes the launch of three Landing Craft, Tanks (LCTs).

Landing craft off the coast of Arzeu, North Africa. November, 1942
Photo as found at IMW.

Please link to Video: Canadian Army Newsreel - Sicily

Unattributed Photos GH

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