Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Photographs: Imperial War Museum - N. Africa, 1942 (5)

Operation TORCH, Invasion of N. Africa, Nov. 1942.

Caption: A12802. British troops landing equipment on a beach near Algiers. 
Photo Credit - Royal Navy Photographer Lt. L. Pelman
and Imperial War Museum (IWM)


About 200 Canadians were sprinkled among landing craft crews during the invasion of North Africa in 1942. Before the invasion they passed Gibraltar and entered the Mediterranean Sea aboard an assortment of troop carriers, e.g., converted oil tankers and passenger liners, etc. The Allied convoy was made up of about 500 ships and was destined to arrive off the coast of Oran and Algiers on November 8, 1942.

Many excellent photographs - revealing the troop carriers in convoy and flotillas of landing craft in subsequent action - related to the Allied cause during WW2, are part of a vast collection belonging to the Imperial War Museum, U.K.

Several RN photographers, for example, worked aboard troop ships, landing craft and on the beaches creating valuable still photographs and newsreels that inform us of many details pertaining to the invasion.

I encourage readers to browse IWM collections at their leisure. By adjusting the number of the top photograph (e.g., changing A12802 to A12803), one will see the next photo in the collection. Copies of rare photographs can be purchased, if desired.

Please link to Search Our Collections.

Displayed below are a few pictures taken by Royal Navy photographers during World War 2. They are now archived at IWM and may assist those searching for more information about the role of Canadians in Combined Operations - and many other divisions, regiments, etc. - during Operation TORCH.

The accompanying captions are found with the photos as well:

A12803. British troops landing equipment on a beach near Algiers. 
Photo Credit - Lt. L. Pelman and IWM.

A12804. US troops in a landing craft putting off for the beach. 
Lt. L. Pelman and IWM.

A12805. US troops* in a landing craft putting off for the beach. 
Lt. L. Pelman and IWM.

A12806. US troops* in a landing craft putting off for the beach.
Lt. L. Pelman and IWM.

*Editor: The caption attached to the above two photographs may be incorrect. The helmets on the soldiers appear to be those worn by British troops. Compare helmets with those in third photo above, i.e., A12804. "US troops in a landing craft putting off for the beach (and wearing U.S.-style helmets)."

A12807. Landing craft full of British troops on their way inshore near Algiers.
Lt. L. Pelman and IWM.

A12808. British troops landing on the beach from the landing craft.
Lt. L. Pelman and IWM.

A12814. A US Army band plays to the troops aboard the REINA DEL PACIFICO,
en route for Gibraltar. Lt. F.A. Hudson and IWM.

A12820. Landing craft and transports on Arzeu beach near Oran.
Lt. F.A. Hudson and IWM.

My father, Doug Harrison (RCNVR, Combined Operations) recalls the following incident that involved the Reina Del Pacifico:

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. I then had to climb hand over hand up a large hawser (braided rope) to reach the hand rail of Reina Del Pacifico and here my weakness showed itself. 

I got to the hand rail completely exhausted and couldn’t let one hand go to grab the rail or I would have fallen forty feet into an LCM bobbing below. I managed to nod my head at a cook in a Petty Officer’s uniform and he hauled me in. My throat was so dry I only managed to say, “Thanks, you saved my life.”

The Reina was a ship purposely for fellows like me who were tired out, and I was fed everything good, given a big tot of rum and placed in a hammock. I slept the clock around twice - 24 hours - then went back to work. In seven days I went back aboard the Reina Del and headed for Gibraltar to regroup for the trip back to England. During the trip I noticed the ship carried an unexploded three inch shell in her side all the way back to England. (Page 25-26, "DAD, WELL DONE")

Reina Del Pacifico - Link to Photo Credit

Please link to more information about the Reina Del Pacifico, the Queen of the Pacific: Short Story re Combined Ops, "N. Africa and Reina Del Pacifico"

A12821. American troops in their landing craft alongside a transport near Oran.
Lt. F.A. Hudson and IWM.

A12822. American troops leaving one of the transports in a landing craft.
Lt. F.A. Hudson and IWM.

A12823. A landing craft alongside a transport.
Lt. F.A. Hudson and IWM.

Heading with photographs at Imperial War Museum (IWM) - Combined Operations off the North African coast. November 1942.

A12824. Landing craft on their way inshore from transports.
RN Photographer Lt. F.A. Hudson

A12825. Landing craft on their way inshore from transports.
RN Photographer Lt. F.A. Hudson and IWM.

A12882. HMS ARGUS operating off the North African coast
during combined operations for the 'Torch' landings.
RN Photographer Lt. R.G.G. Coote and IWM.

Unattributed Photos GH.

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