5.1 Operation Torch
On November 7, 1942, on his way to celebrate the 19th anniversary of the abortive Beer
Hall Putsch, Hitler was shocked to learn that Allied fleets were entering the Strait of Gibraltar.
He ordered his staff to anticipate the fleet's direction, and due to Allied Double-Cross
misinformation, they mistakenly told Hitler that the fleet was headed for Malta.
When the Allied fleet arrived in North Africa on November 8, 1942 there were no
German troops rushing southward to confront them and the German air force was too far east to
be of any threat – the Germans were caught completely by surprise. Churchill and Roosevelt had
planned this joint US-British invasion of North Africa during the Arcadia Conference in
Washington between December 22, 1941 and January 14, 1942. Despite pressure by Stalin to
open a second front in the European continent, Roosevelt convinced Churchill that neither of
their forces was prepared for such an attack. It was agreed that they would attempt to secure
control of North Africa and the Mediterranean through a secret amphibious invasion of North
Africa. While Roosevelt's acceptance of this strategy was reluctant, Churchill was enthusiastic to
have the United States actively fighting against Hitler rather than focusing all their attention
against their Japanese foes in the Pacific.
American naval fleets snaked through 4,500 miles of the U-boat-infested Atlantic Ocean
and entered the Mediterranean through the Gibraltar Strait on November 7, 1942. The Germans
suspected the Allies were targeting Malta because for months Allied Double-Cross
misinformation had been playing on German fears of an Allied offensive in various places,
including Malta. Other false targets included Norway, France or the Middle East. But on
November 8, 1942, it was Vichy-held Morocco upon whose shores the US-British fleets landed.