Yesterday     Tomorrow

November 8th, 1942 (SUNDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: Aircraft carrier HMS Ocean laid down.

   During the night of 8/9 November, seven RAF Bomber Command aircraft lay mines in the Heligoland Bight, the arm of the North Sea extending south and east of Heligoland Island.

ASPIDISTRA becomes operational today. ASPIDISTRA is the codename given to the powerful 600 kilowatt medium wave transmitter which was purchased from the U.S. for use in broadcasting propaganda on the German controlled wave-lengths. It cost UK£111,801, 4 shillings and 10 pence to buy the apparatus from the Radio Corporation of America (RCA). Another sum of UK£16,000 is spent to prepare the site and erect the masts near Crowborough, Essex, England. The transmitter is not only the biggest and loudest radio in Europe at that time, it is also the nippiest. It has been specially designed to be able to make lightning changes of frequency. As Joseph Goebbels, German Minister of Propaganda, had noted in his Diary, "it hopped all over the waveband." First it broadcast on its own regular frequency, then it switches suddenly to that of the Deutschlandsender, when that station went off the air, or to that of Radio Frankfort or Radio Munich. The station engineers could accomplish a frequency switch in less than 30 seconds, something which it would take an ordinary transmitter hours to make, if not days. This faculty came in handy when the German jammers which were now devoting more and more of their strength to howling down the transmitter.

NETHERLANDS: During the night of 8/9 November, 21 RAF Bomber Command aircraft lay mines in the Frisian Islands.

FRANCE: Paris: Anti-semitic newspaper Au Pilori carries a headline from the paper's political editor Maurice de Séré, "The Jewish question must be resolved immediately by the arrest and deportation of all Jews without exception."

A joint American-British Declaration is broadcast to the people of Metropolitan France stating that the landing of American troops in French North Africa, is the first step toward the liberation of France, and had as its object the destruction of Axis forces there. "The hour of national uprising has not sounded. We have already promised you that we will warn you when this hour shall have come. Today that moment is closer."

   The USAAF Eighth Air Force's VIII Bomber Command flies Mission 17: 53 B-17 Flying Fortresses are dispatched to hit two targets; one B-17 is lost: 11 B-17s bomb Drucat Airfield at Abbeville while 31 B-17s bomb the Atclier d'Hellemmes locomotive works at Lille.

   During the night of 8/9 November, 24 RAF Bomber Command Stirlings drop leaflets over many towns in France. Additionally, Bomber Command aircraft lay mines off five seaports: four each lay mines off Brest and Lorient and three each lay mines off Gironde, the Gironde Estuary and St. Nazaire with the loss of two aircraft.

VICHY FRANCE: Ministers announce that the US, by "carrying the war to French territory, had by that very fact broken off diplomatic relations."

GERMANY: Munich: In his traditional speech on the anniversary of the Beercellar Putsch, Hitler says that Stalingrad has fallen "apart from some very small parts" and victory is certain.

     During the night of 8/9 November, two RAF Bomber Command aircraft lay mines in the River Elbe Estuary.

DENMARK: During the night of 8/9 November, nine RAF Bomber Command aircraft lay mines in Little Belt, the 30 miles (48 kilometer) strait between Fyn Island and the mainland of Denmark. Three other aircraft lay mines in the 40 miles (64 kilometers) long Great Belt between Sjaelland and Fyn Island.

U.S.S.R.: Soviet forces have begun an attack on the Terek front in the  Caucasus. This threatens to cut off some units in the German III Panzer  Corps.

PORTUGAL AND SPAIN: The British Foreign Office issues a statement announcing that the Ambassadors in Madrid and Lisbon have been instructed to inform the Spanish and Portuguese Governments that the British Government is at one with the United States Government regarding the American landings in French North Africa. The conversations take the form of solid bids for confidence from which it is hoped would come trade, agreements long sought by the United Nations.

NORTH AFRICA: Operation Torch begins. There are three sectors for landings.

Casablanca is  the Western Area, sailing from the United States there are 35,000 troops of the US 2nd  Armoured, 4rd Infantry and part of the 9th Infantry Divisions. They will  land on three beaches around Casablanca with a 200 mile front. General George  Patton is in command of the Ground Forces. Admiral Hewitt commands the  naval forces which include two battleships, one fleet carrier, five escort  carriers and escorting cruisers and destroyers.

Oran is the Centre Area.  General Gredendall commands 39,000 troops of the US 1st Infantry and 1st  Armored Divisions. Commodore Troubridge commands the naval forces of two  escort carriers and escorting cruisers and destroyers.

The Eastern Area is  Algiers. Major General Charles W. Ryder commands 33,000 troops of the US 34th Infantry and  parts of the US 9th Infantry and US 1st Armored Divisions. The British 78  Division is part of this force. Admiral Burrough commands the Eastern Naval Task Force, consisting of two British aircraft carriers, three cruisers, 13 destroyers and 40 other warships, escorting the 33 auxiliaries carrying the landing force. Force H at Gibraltar, under Admiral Syfret has 3  battleships, three fleet carriers and escorting cruisers and destroyers, is  on guard against the still formidable Italian Fleet.

The Eastern Assault Force (Regimental Combat Team 39, U.S. 9th Infantry Division; Regimental Combat Team 168, U.S. 34th Infantry Division; 11th and 36th Brigades, British 78th Division; British 1st and 6th Commando Battalions), lands east and west of Algiers at 0100 hours.

The US 11th Brigade and US Regimental Combat Team 168 go ashore west of Algiers near Castiglione and Sidi Ferruch. US Regimental Combat Team 39 lands east of Algiers near Cap Matifou.

 Algiers landings make good early progress capturing the town of Algiers and  French Admiral Darlan. The Oran landings are not so successful, but by  nightfall the landing is well established and the Tafaraiu Airfield is in Allied hands and operational following a military combat parachute jump by the US 509th PIB (Parachute Infantry Brigade) to seize the airfield. (Mike Yared) The French battleship Jean Bart, armed and  anchored, fights a gunnery duel with the USS Massachusetts. She had some near misses but not hits. MASSACHUSETTS hit her five times in return and damaged her, then the JEAN BART was hit by American dive bombers. The JEAN BART is only 80% complete and has one four-gun forward turret  installed. The French  destroyers also put up a fight. The landings at Safi go well, those at  Port Lyautey are resisted. Escort sloops HMS HARTLAND and HMS WALNEY (ex USCG SEBANGO) are lost attempting to storm Oran harbour. WALNEY is fired on by shore batteries and ships in the harbour as she attempts to come alongside the jetty. She drifts out of control and is later abandoned, before exploding. Ex-US coast guard cutter Hartland receives similar treatment as well as firing from the destroyer Typhoon and drifts out into the harbour where she is later abandoned.  

V and W class destroyer HMS Broke manages to get alongside the Quai de Falaise at Algiers, lands her US Rangers but has to recall them when her position is made untenable by light field guns. Broke leaves harbour on fire, and is then taken in tow by Zetland until she founders in heavy weather on 9 November. 

Flower class corvette HMS Gardenia collides with the trawler Fluellan and sinks in fog off Oran at 35 49N 01 05W. There are no casualties. (Charles R. Gregory and Alex Gordon(108))

 There is some help from the French, most helpful is General Mast at  Algiers. While the troops are mostly US, the shipping is mostly British;  this is an effort to present Torch as a US operation to pacify the French.  General de Gaulle makes a suitable approving broadcast at the last minute, since he was not told in advance of the landings.

The 70th tank battalion is split with B Company and the 47th Infantry Regiment landing at Safi, French Morocco, C Company and the 60th at Port Lyautey, French Morocco , and A Company and the 39th at Algiers, Algeria. Combat is over in a day except at Port Lyautey where it lasts three days. (Mike Yared)

The ground echelon of the USAAF 31st Fighter Group land at the Arzeu beach in Algeria, and the pilots fly their aircraft to Tafaraoui, Algeria, to join the 52nd Fighter Group.

Light cruiser HMS Jamaica assisted in the invasion of North Africa. She was part of the Center Task Force (Oran area).

Ships lost (by James Paterson).

EPERVIER, Vichy French Destroyer Leader, 5.45am Damaged off Oran by 6in Gunfire from the cruiser HMS Aurora and two destroyers, and beached

TRAMONTANE, Vichy French Destroyer, 5.40am, sunk off Oran (35-55N 01-05W) by 6in gunfire from the cruiser Aurora. The first broadside swept the bridge of TRAMONTANE and disabled half of her armament. She runs aground under the cliffs off Cape Aiguille.

TORNADE, Vichy French Destroyer, 5.40am, damaged by gunfire from Aurora sank at 7.30am.

TYPHON, Vichy French Destroyer, Scuttled in Oran harbour following damage from Aurora.

LA SURPRISE, Vichy French Aviso, sunk off Oran by 4.7in gunfire from HMS Brilliant

BROKE, HMS, RN Destroyer, 8.30am damaged by Vichy shore batteries, abandoned and scuttled at 7pm.

Submarine FS Argonaute sunk off Oran during the Allied landings in North Africa by destroyer HMS Achates.

Destroyers FS Boulonnais, Brestois, Fougeaux, Frondeur, sunk by gunfire from Allied warships off Casablanca.

Destroyer FS Milan ran aground at Casablanca after being damaged by American naval gunfire and American aircraft.

Submarines FS La Psyche and Oreade sunk in Casablanca by US aircraft during Allied landings. Raised 1944 and not repaired.

OPERATION TORCH: The invasion of North Africa. F4F Wildcats of VF-41 from the USS RANGER down 13 Vichy French fighters over Cazes Aerodrome, French Morocco. Five other French warplanes are destroyed by pilots from other fighter squadrons in the area.

1700 hours: The 308th FS and 309 FS of the 31st FG arrive at Tafaraoui Airdrome, south of Oran, Algeria after staging through Gibraltar from England. One 309th FS Spitfire is shot down in the landing pattern by Vichy French fighters and its pilot is killed. 

The survivors shoot down three of the four Dewoitine D.520 fighters. 

(Skip Guidry)

FRENCH MOROCCO: The Western Naval Task Force, consisting of three USN battleships, one aircraft carrier, four escort aircraft carriers, seven cruisers, 38 destroyers and 16 other warships, escorts 36 auxiliaries and merchant ships carrying 35,000 U.S. troops of the Western Task Force (Major General George S. Patton). These troops will land at three points along a 200 mile (322 kilometer) front. The landings are scheduled to begin at 0400 hours, but they are delayed at least an hour in landing the Casablanca assault forces; they engage the French fleet at Casablanca. The French force (Rear Admiral Gervais de Lafonde in destroyer leader Milan) makes a valiant attempt to disrupt the landings, but is overwhelmed by gunfire from covering USN ships. U.S. ships damaged are the battleship USS Massachusetts (BB-59), heavy cruiser USS Wichita (CA-45), light cruiser USS Brooklyn (CL-40), destroyers USS Ludlow (DD-438) and Murphy (DD-603), and high speed minesweeper USS Palmer (DMS-5) by

  French shore batteries; high speed minesweeper USS Stansbury (DMS-8) by mine; and transport USS Leedstown (AP-73) by German aerial torpedo. French ships sunk area merchant passenger liner and a cargo ship by USS Massachusetts; destroyer Fougueux by USS Massachusetts and heavy cruiser USS Tuscaloosa (CA-37); destroyer Boulonnais by light cruiser USS Brooklyn (CL-40); destroyers Brestois and Frondeur by U.S. ships; submarines Sidi-Ferruch, Oréade, Amphitrite, and Psyché by U.S. Navy carrier-based planes; and a merchant passenger liner, a tanker and a cargo ship i. French ships damaged are battleship Jean Bart by battleship USS Massachusetts; submarine Le Tonnant by U.S. Navy ships; submarine Meduse by aircraft; and light cruiser Primaguet, destroyer leader Milan, and destroyers Albatros and Alcyon by naval aircraft. French sloops Grandiere, Commandant Delage, and Gracieuse sortie during the afternoon and pick up survivors from the French warships sunk in battle that morning. The latter two sloops will repeat the operation on 10 November. (Ron Babuka, Alex Gordon, Skip Guidry, Jack McKillop and James Paterson)

   The Northern Attack Group Task Force (60th Infantry Regiment of 9th Infantry Division and 1st Battalion of the 66th Armored Regiment, 2d Armored Division) under Major General Lucian K. Truscott, Jr., USA, lands on the beaches north and south of the Sebou River at Mehdia; they attempt to reach Port Lyautey and the airfield 2 miles (3,2 kilometers) north but meet considerable opposition and cannot reach their objective. The Task Force of the Center Attack Group (3d Infantry Division and 1st Battalion of 67th Armored Regiment, 2d Armored Division) under Major General Jonathan W. Anderson, USA, lands northeast of Fedala, sustaining serious loss of landing craft (242 or 64 percent), and takes their D-Day objectives. The surprised Vichy French Fedala garrison surrenders and the advance is continued toward Casablanca. The Southern Attack Group's landing force (47th Infantry Regiment of the 9th Infantry Division; 2d and 3d Battalions of the 67th Armored Regiment, 2d Armored Division; and special units) under Major General Ernest N. Harmon, USA, secures a 5,000-yard (4 572 meter) beachhead in the Safi area and takes Safi. Two USN destroyers, with Companies K and L of the 47th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division, and a naval contingent aboard, enter Safi Harbor ahead of the landings; after silencing batteries with gunfire, land the assault force, which takes harbor facilities without opposition. (Ron Babuka, Alex Gordon, Skip Guidry, Jack McKillop and James Paterson)

   F4F Wildcats of Fighting Squadron Forty One (VF-41) in the aircraft carrier USS Ranger (CV-4) down 13 Vichy French fighters over Cazes Airdrome. Five other French warplanes are destroyed by pilots from other fighter squadrons in the area. (Ron Babuka, Alex Gordon, Skip Guidry, Jack McKillop and James Paterson)

   USAAF Twelfth Air Force C-47 Skytrains of the 60th Troop Carrier Group attempting to land troops at La Senia Airfield find the French unexpectedly hostile and have several aircraft shot down by fighters and antiaircraft; several other C-47s are damaged when trying to land on the dry lakebed of Sebkra d'Oran. (Ron Babuka, Alex Gordon, Skip Guidry, Jack McKillop and James Paterson)


FRENCH NORTHWEST AFRICA: Brigadier General Charles de Gaulle, Commander in Chief Free French Forces, broadcasts a message calling on all Frenchmen in North Africa to rise without reserve and join the Allies. "Our Algeria, our Morocco, our Tunisia are to be made the jumping-off ground for the liberation of France."


ALGERIA: Oran: Capt. Frederick Thornton Peters (b.1889) took HMS WALNEY into Oran harbour under blistering fire; of 17 on the bridge, only he survived. He died in an air crash on 13 November. (Victoria Cross)

TUNISIA: The Bey of Tunis received a message from U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt explaining the arrival of American troopsin Northwest Africa, and asking passage of these troops through Tunisia. Roosevelt states that "The troops were arriving with, no aim but the "early destruction of our common enemies." The Axis Powers were seeking to occupy and dominate Tunisia, and to impose on its people a "condition of misery to which I am sure they will never submit." "

LIBYA: Rommel's army retreats back across the border from Egypt.

EGYPT: The British Eighth Army, although still delayed by rainfall, clears opposition in the Mersa Matruh area.

NEW GUINEA: In Papua New Guinea, USAAF Fifth Air Force A-20 Havocs hit Japanese forces in the Oivi area in the Owen Stanley Range as Australian ground forces push over the mountains toward the Gona-Buna area. USAAF transports fly the final elements of Task Force Warren (1st Battalion of 128th Infantry Regiment, U.S. 32d Infantry Division) from Port Moresby to Wanigela; from there are move forward by boat.

SOLOMON ISLANDS: In the action east of the Lunga perimeter, on Guadalcanal, Col Puller  suffers multiple wounds.

The 7th Marine Regiment and 2d Battalion of the Army’s 164th Infantry Regiment, latter being attached to 7th Marine Regiment as reserve, move east along the coast to surround the Japanese now disposed astride Gavaga Creek, west of Tetere. 1st and 2d Battalions of 7th Marine Regiment take up positions on the west and east banks, respectively, of the creek. (John Nicholas)

     The "Tokyo Express" has been landing reinforcements along the coast from Kokumbona to Cape Esperance during the period 28 October to date. A run of the "Express" is located too late in the day for interception by the Cactus Air Force.

During the day Admiral Halsey lands to observe  conditions for himself. Halsey is treated to a demonstration of why the  Marines referred to the waters north of the island as "Sleepless Lagoon" by  a shelling from the Tokyo Express.

BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO: USAAF Fifth Air Force B-25 Mitchells bomb the radio station and airfield at Gasmata on New Britain Island.

PACIFIC OCEAN: On her seventh war patrol, USN submarine Seawolf (SS-197) sinks a Japanese gunboat about 50 nautical miles (92 kilometers) south-southeast of Davao, Mindanao, Philippine Islands, in position 06.22N, 126.02E.

CANADA: The Government of Canada severs relations with Vichy France stating that "there no longer existed in France any government with "effective independent existence." "

U.S.A.: The Bogue class auxiliary aircraft carrier (ACV) USS Card (ACV-11) is commissioned; the USN now has 13 ACVs in commission. The ACVs will be redesignated escort aircraft carriers (CVEs) on 15 July 1943. (Jack McKillop & Dave Shirlaw)

MEXICO: The Government severs diplomatic relations with France. President Avila Camacho broadcasts the announcement that the Government of Mexico has broken off diplomatic relations with Vichy stating "Mexico cannot continue relations with a nation failing to cooperate with the democracies. We are sure that all Frenchmen will understand our move. . . ."

CARIBBEAN SEA: British patrol boat rescues 34 survivors of US freighter WEST KEBAR , sunk on October 29, and transports them to Barbados, British West Indies. (Rodney Sanders)(83)

CUBA: The Government severs diplomatic relations with France.


U-128 sank SS Maloja.

U-154 sank SS D´Entrecasteaux.

U-161 damaged SS Benalder and sank SS West Humhaw.

U-181 sank SS Plaudit.

U-67 damaged SS Capo Olmo.

While refuelling U-454 on 8 Nov Leutnant zur See der Reserve Helmut Schwenzel from U-117 was washed overboard.

Top of Page

Yesterday             Tomorrow