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An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 (World War II Liberation Trilogy, #1)
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THE SECOND WORLD WAR > INTRODUCTION - ARMY AT DAWN (SPOILER THREAD)

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This is the Introduction thread for An Army At Dawn: The War In North Africa, 1942 - 1943 (Volume One of the Liberation Trilogy).

An Army at Dawn The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 by Rick Atkinson by Rick AtkinsonRick Atkinson



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An Army At Dawn: The War In North Africa, 1942 - 1943 (Volume One of the Liberation Trilogy)


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An Army At Dawn: The War In North Africa, 1942 - 1943 (Volume One of the Liberation Trilogy)

An Army at Dawn The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 by Rick Atkinson by Rick Atkinson Rick Atkinson

Synopsis:

In the first volume of his monumental trilogy about the liberation of Europe in WW II, Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Atkinson tells the riveting story of the war in North Africa

The liberation of Europe and the destruction of the Third Reich is a story of courage and enduring triumph, of calamity and miscalculation. In this first volume of the Liberation Trilogy, Rick Atkinson shows why no modern reader can understand the ultimate victory of the Allied powers without a grasp of the great drama that unfolded in North Africa in 1942 and 1943. That first year of the Allied war was a pivotal point in American history, the moment when the United States began to act like a great power.

Beginning with the daring amphibious invasion in November 1942, An Army at Dawn follows the American and British armies as they fight the French in Morocco and Algeria, and then take on the Germans and Italians in Tunisia. Battle by battle, an inexperienced and sometimes poorly led army gradually becomes a superb fighting force. Central to the tale are the extraordinary but fallible commanders who come to dominate the battlefield: Eisenhower, Patton, Bradley, Montgomery, and Rommel.

Brilliantly researched, rich with new material and vivid insights, Atkinson's narrative provides the definitive history of the war in North Africa.

An Army at Dawn is the winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for History.


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Reviews:

“A splendid book . . . The emphasis throughout is on the human drama of men at war.”
—The Washington Post Book World

“Exceptional . . . A work strong in narrative flow and character portraits of the principal commanders . . . [A] highly pleasurable read.”
—The New York Times Book Review

“A master of the telling profile . . . This vivid, personality-driven account of the campaign to drive Axis forces from North Africa shows the political side of waging war, even at the tactical level.”
—Chicago Tribune

“Brilliant . . . This is history and war in the hands of a gifted and unflinching writer.”
—Kansas City Star

“A monumental history of the overshadowed combat in North Africa during World War II that brings soldiers, generals, and bloody battles alive through masterful storytelling.”
—citation for the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for History

“A book that stands shoulder to shoulder with the other major books about the war, such as the fine writing of Cornelius Ryan and John Keegan.”
—Associated Press

“Atkinson’s writing is lucid, vivid . . . Among the many pleasures of An Army at Dawn are the carefully placed details—shells that whistle into the water with a smoky hiss; a colonel with ‘slicked hair and a wolfish mustache’; a man dying before he can fire the pistols strapped in his holster.”
—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“One of the most compelling pieces of military history I’ve ever read, An Army at Dawn will become a military history and strategy studies classic. Atkinson writes with incredible insight and mastery of the details, and he is always mindful of the larger picture. He goes from the highest political levels to the deepest foxhole without missing a beat. This is history at its finest.”
—General Wesley K. Clark, U.S.A. (ret.), former NATO supreme commander

“An engrossing narrative . . . Atkinson has an impressive command of words, a flair for simplifying complex issues, and a vast reservoir of information . . . This is a fascinating work which any reader can enjoy, and professional historians will find perusal of it eminently worth their while.”
—Arthur L. Funk, Journal of Military History

“A masterpiece. Rick Atkinson strikes the right balance between minor tactical engagements and high strategic direction, and he brings soldiers at every level to life, from private to general. An Army at Dawn is history with a soldier’s face.”
—General Gordon R. Sullivan, U.S.A. (ret.), former Army chief of staff

“What distinguishes his narrative is the way he fuses the generals’ war . . . with the experience of front-line combat soldiers.”
—Raleigh News & Observer

“Atkinson’s book is eminently friendly and readable, but without compromising normal standards of accuracy and objectivity. More than a military history, it is a social and psychological inquiry as well. His account of the Kasserine Pass disaster alone is worth the price of the book and stands as an exciting preview of the rich volumes to come. I heartily recommend this human, sensitive, unpretentious work.”
—Paul Fussell, author of Doing Battle and Wartime

“Rick Atkinson’s An Army at Dawn is a superb account of the Allied invasion of North Africa. From the foxhole to Eisenhower’s supreme headquarters, Atkinson has captured the essence of war in one of the most neglected campaigns of World War II.”
—Carlo D’Este, author of Patton and Eisenhower

“Given his success with modern military history, the penetrating historical insights Atkinson brings to bear on America’s 1942-43 invasion of the North African coast are not surprising . . . The most thorough and satisfying history yet of the campaigns in North Africa.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“This is a wonderful book—popular history at its best. It is impressively researched and superbly written, and it brings to life in full detail one of the vitally important but relatively “forgotten” campaigns of World War II. What Bruce Catton and Shelby Foote did for the Civil War in their trilogies, Rick Atkinson is doing for World War II in the European Theater.”
—Professor Mark A. Stoler, author of Allies and Adversaries

“Atkinson’s book puts him on a fast track toward becoming one of our most ambitious and distinguished military chroniclers . . . [He] has unpacked facts that will lift many eyebrows.”
—Bookpage

“For sheer drama, the Tunisian campaign far overshadowed any other phase of the Second World War. Rick Atkinson has told the story with zest and brutal realism. His account will be a monument among accounts of World War II.”
—John S. D. Eisenhower, author of Allies and The Bitter Woods

“An Army at Dawn is an absolute masterpiece. Atkinson conveys both the human drama and historical significance of this campaign with a power and intensity that is nothing short of electrifying. This book is storytelling—and history—at its most riveting.”
—Andrew Carroll, editor of War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars

“Rick Atkinson has done a beautiful job of research and writing in An Army at Dawn. This is the North African campaign—warts, snafus, feuding allies, incompetents, barely competents—unvarnished. It whets my appetite for the rest of the Liberation Trilogy Atkinson has promised us.”
—Joseph L. Galloway, coauthor of We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young

“Rick Atkinson combines meticulous research and attention to detail with an extraordinary ability to tell a story. It is a rich and powerful narrative which is certain to become a classic.”
—Ronald Spector, author of At War at Sea and Eagle against the Sun

“An Army at Dawn may be the best World War II narrative since Cornelius Ryan’s classics, The Longest Day and A Bridge Too Far.”
—Wall Street Journal

“…precise …sparkling, Atkinson’s research is extensive. An Army at Dawn also includes new and fascinating materials.”
—Los Angeles Times Book Review

“. . . intellectually convincing and emotionally compelling narrative.”
—Publishers Weekly

“Atkinson’s book puts him on the fast track toward becoming one of our most ambitious and distinguished military chroniclers.”
—Alan Prince, Army veteran and lecturer at the Univ. of Miami

“Atkinson tells a fascinating story of the North African campaign that is hard to stop reading . . . the perfect combination of biographical information and tactical considerations, and eyewitness accounts give readers an idea of what the average soldier must have endured.
—Library Journal


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Publisher's Overview:

AN ARMY AT DAWN
The War in North Africa, 1942-1943

VOLUME ONE OF THE LIBERATION TRILOGY

Winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for History

Winner of the 2002 AHF Distinguished Writing Award for U.S. Army History 1899-2002

In the first volume of his monumental trilogy about the liberation of Europe in WWII, Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Atkinson tells the riveting story of the war in North Africa.

The liberation of Europe and the destruction of the Third Reich is a story of courage and enduring triumph, of calamity and miscalculation. In this first volume of the Liberation Trilogy, Rick Atkinson shows why no modern reader can understand the ultimate victory of the Allied powers without a grasp of the great drama that unfolded in North Africa in 1942 and 1943. That first year of the Allied war was a pivotal point in American history, the moment when the United States began to act like a great power.

Beginning with the daring amphibious invasion in November 1942, An Army at Dawn follows the American and British armies as they fight the French in Morocco and Algeria, and then take on the Germans and Italians in Tunisia. Battle by battle, an inexperienced and sometimes poorly led army gradually becomes a superb fighting force. Central to the tale are the extraordinary but fallible commanders who come to dominate the battlefield: Eisenhower, Patton, Bradley, Montgomery, and Rommel.

Brilliantly researched, rich with new material and vivid insights, Atkinson’s narrative provides the definitive history of the war in North Africa.


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This is Chapter One: you can even download Chapter One free.

http://liberationtrilogy.com/books/ar...


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MAJOR FIGURES FROM AN ARMY AT DAWN

Lieutenant General Dwight D. Eisenhower



Commander, Operation TORCH. Despite never having commanded even a platoon in combat, Eisenhower found himself leading perhaps the boldest military expedition ever launched by the United States. His inexperience plagued him for months in North Africa, both as a battle leader and as the head of a fractious international coalition; even before the debacle at Kasserine Pass in February 1943, he feared that he was about to be relieved and sent home. The campaign in North Africa would test Eisenhower’s abilities as a leader, much as it would test American aspirations to be a world power.


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MAJOR FIGURES FROM AN ARMY AT DAWN

Field Marshal Erwin Rommel




Commander, Panzer Army Africa. “Rommel, Rommel, Rommel!” Prime Minister Churchill had exclaimed. “What else matters but beating him?” Like most of history’s conspicuously successful commanders, he had an uncanny ability to dominate the minds of his adversaries. The son and grandson of schoolteachers from southwest Germany, he had rocketed from lieutenant Colonel to field marshal in four years. His successes in Africa showed the audacity, tactical brilliance, and personal style that won him the sobriquet of Desert Fox; but Africa would also reveal the limitations of his generalship and his influence on his political master, Adolf Hitler.


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MAJOR FIGURES FROM AN ARMY AT DAWN

Major General George S. Patton, Jr.



Commander, Task Force 34 and U.S. II Corps. As the charismatic commander of the American force that invaded Morocco during Operation TORCH, Patton quickly became a national hero in demonstrating his most conspicuous attributes: energy, will, a capacity to see the enemy’s perspective, and bloodlust. Further combat in Tunisia would burnish his reputation while revealing his defects: a disregard of logistics; a penchant for bullying subordinates; and an archaic tendency to assess his own generalship on the basis of personal courage under fire. “On reflection, who is as good as I am?” he asked his diary. “I know of no one.” He was, a British officer concluded, “smart, blasphemous, fit, and glamorous…but born in the wrong century.”


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MAJOR FIGURES FROM AN ARMY AT DAWN

Major General Terry de la Mesa Allen



Commander, U.S. 1st Infantry Division. Even his name swaggered, an admirer once wrote. Allen surely embodied the unofficial motto of his unit, the Big Red One: “Work hard and drink much, for somewhere they’re dreamin’ up a battle for the First.” If he was “the fightingest man I ever met,” as one aide averred, Allen also was innovative, tactically gifted, and devoted to both his men and to God. His penchant for provoking superiors would cause trouble, in Tunisia and again in Sicily. “The most difficult man with whom I have ever had to work,” Lieutenant General Omar N. Bradley said of him, “fiercely antagonistic to any echelon above that of division.”


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SLIDESHOW OF MAPS THAT GO ALONG WITH ARMY AT DAWN

http://liberationtrilogy.com/books/ar...

List of Maps

1. Mediterranean and European Theaters in World War II
2. Operation TORCH, Invasion of North Africa, November 1942
3. Seizure of Oran, November 8–10, 1942
4. Landings in Algiers, November 8, 1942
5. Landings at Fedala, November 8, 1942
6. The Capture of Casablanca, November 8–11, 1942
7. Attack on Mehdia and Port Lyautey, November 8–10, 1942
8. First Allied Attempt to Reach Tunis, November 15–30, 1942
9. Tébourba Engagement, December 1–3, 1942
10. German Attack on Medjez-el-Bab, December 6–10, 1942
11. Battle for Longstop Hill, December 22–26, 1942
12. The Winter Line in Tunisia, February 1943
13. Battle of Sidi bou Zid, February 14–15, 1943
14. Battles of Kasserine Pass, February 19–22, 1943
15. Battle of Mareth, March 16–28, 1943
16. Battle of El Guettar and Maknassy Pass, March 16–25, 1943
17. Continuing Fight near El Guettar, March 28–April 1, 1943
18. Battle for Fondouk Pass, April 8–9, 1943
19. Final Victory in Tunisia, April 22–May 13, 1943
20. Battle for Hill 609, April 27–May 1, 1943


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MAPS & TIMELINE
Interactive Timeline for An Army at Dawn


http://liberationtrilogy.com/maps-tim...


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The commander-in-chief of Allied forces in North Africa, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, photographed in Algiers in early 1943.


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Rear Admiral H. Kent Hewitt, commander of Task Force 34, during the American invasion of Morocco in November 1942. At fifty-five, with a high, bookish forehead and a mild demeanor, Hewitt was nevertheless a formidable fighting admiral.


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General Henri Giraud inspects spahi cavalrymen and colonial riflemen in Algiers. Intrepid and brave, with a knack for escaping from German prisons, he also possessed what one Frenchman described as the uncomprehending eye of a porcelain cat.


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Colonel Robert R. Moore, a druggist from Villisca, Iowa, rose from the “Boy Captain” of his National Guard company to command the 2nd Battalion of the 168th Infantry Regiment during the German counteroffensive east of Kasserine Pass. (Courtesy of the Moore family)


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"Four days before the American landings in Morocco, Signal Corps soldiers aboard ship initiate another member into the Bald-Head Club. All troops were ordered to shower before the invasion to lessen the chance of wounds becoming infected."


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Men from the 1st Ranger Battalion review a map of Arzew aboard ship, November 7, 1942, hours before they captured the Algerian harbor at the beginning of the TORCH invasion.


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The harsh sound of steel on whetstone could be heard throughout the convoys as soldiers put an edge on their bayonets and trench knives during the passage to Morocco and Algeria. This photograph was taken on November 7, 1942, invasion eve.


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LIFE in WWII: Photos From the North African Campaign, 1943

Read more: http://life.time.com/history/world-wa...


Eliot Elisofon—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images "A tank-artillery team stands on alert. This kind of unit -- a 105mm. howitzer mounted on a half-track -- has proved a 'winning combination,' according to Army experts, in ground warfare in Tunisia."

So many World War II battlefields have been immortalized in histories, memoirs, novels and films that the names alone can conjure stark and stirring images for even the most casual history buff.

Saipan. Stalingrad. Bastogne. Normandy. Okinawa. Leyte Gulf. The details of each and every battle might be hazy for most of us — but if pressed, we could at least locate the site of the combat in the Pacific or European theater of war.

But how many of us recognize names like Sidi Bou Zid? El Guettar? Seden? Wadi Akarit? To a lesser or greater degree, these and other battles with now long-forgotten names also helped to determine the course and the outcome of the Second World War. That they were fought not in Europe or on one of the Marshall or Mariana islands in the Pacific, but instead in the deserts and towns of North Africa, might come as something of a shock to people who never knew in the first place that Allied and Axis troops fought — and fought for years — in Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and other countries along the northern rim of the African continent.

Here, 70 years after the end of the bleak and largely forgotten North African Campaign, LIFE.com presents a series of photos — many of which never ran in LIFE magazine — made in Tunisia by photographer Eliot Elisofon in 1943, as the campaign was nearing its end. The number of dead, wounded and missing in North Africa didn’t come close to the millions lost in Europe and the Pacific during the war — but neither side got off easy. Close to 100,000 troops were killed, the grim total split almost evenly between the Allies (British, American and Free French, for the most part) and Axis powers (Italian, German and Vichy French). Among the Allies, the British were the hardest hit, with more than 200,000 men killed, wounded, captured or missing.

In May 1943, LIFE noted to its readers:

The Allies’ final push caught the Germans completely off base. Thousands of German officers and soldiers were obliviously promenading the streets of Tunis when four British armored cars rolled into the city on May 7. When LIFE’s correspondent Will Lang entered Tunis’ Majestic Hotel to register for a room, German officers were still drinking at the bar.

Allied pressure never relaxed. Audacious columns streamed to the coast from all directions, cutting the enemy into hundreds of hopeless, helpless units. The disintegration was complete. German motorized elements simply decorated their vehicles with white flags and drove into the Allied lines. Gasped one British general: “These last three days have been fantastic, unbelievable. The Germans may have witnessed scenes of wholesale surrender like this, but we never have.”

After North Africa, Allied eyes in the Western hemisphere were trained on Europe: by July 1943 American, British and Canadian troops had landed in Sicily and had begun the long, brutal push toward Mussolini’s Rome, Nazi-held Paris and ultimately, two years later, Berlin.


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Inside the walls of the “Kasbah,” the old Portugese fort overlooking the mouth of the Sebou River in Mehdia, Morocco, where French troops fought the Americans for three days in November 1942. “The final assault,” an Army account acknowledged, “had touches of Beau Geste.” (Chapter 3)


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Main entrance of the Hotel Miramar in Fedala, Morocco, where Patton made his first headquarters in November 1942. “Blackout drapes covered the tall windows of the Miramar’s dining room . . . Patton and two dozen staff officers dined on duck, very credibly prepared by a French chef who had been informally conscripted into the American Army hours before.” (Chapter 3)


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Looking north toward Cherqui from one of the beaches in Fedala, Morocco, where Americans landed on November 8, 1942. (Chapters 2,3)


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Remains of French coastal bunker at Cherqui, Morocco, with Fedala in the background. (Chapters 2,3)


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Monument erected by the British at Green Hill in northern Tunisia, where German troops at Jefna stopped the British advance in November 1942. Bald Hill is out of the picture to the right. “British scouts spied a few figers in field gray scurry into foxholes. The hills ‘seemed no more menacing than those previously passed that day,’ a British soldier wrote.” (Chapter 5)


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The view from atop Longstop Hill in northern Tunisia, looking west where British and American troops staged before their unsuccessful assault just before Christmas, 1942. “Longstop offered omniscience. From its crest, nothing in the Medjerda valley could move undetected — not a rabbit, not a man, certainly not a tank.” (Chapter 6)


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The view from Djebel Lessouda in central Tunisia, looking east toward Faid Pass and the Eastern Dorsal. Not far from where this photo was taken, Lt. Col. John Waters was captured in the early hours of the battle later known as Kasserine Pass, and Lt. Col. Robert R. Moore led part of his battalion to safety. “Lessouda was so steep, with such a commanding vista of the dun world below, that Americans had been bewitched by an an illusion of security.” (Chapter 9)


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Virginia (va-BBoomer) | 210 comments Even though I have more than enough on my plate, my lack of knowledge about WWII in North Africa gets brought to my attention every time I see my favorite movie, and I had recently obtained the book below to try to help. Now with Army at Dawn, I can get deeper into this segment of the war. (If I put this into the wrong posting area, forgive me please.)

Casablanca: Script and Legend Howard Koch Howard Koch


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That is fine Virginia - you are right Casablanca is a huge part of this book and this part of the War.


Casablanca Script and Legend by Howard Koch by Howard Koch Howard Koch

Excellent on the citation too - but you have the link in the first position and there was a cover - everything else is great.


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Virginia (va-BBoomer) | 210 comments Sounds like I'll enjoy this book very much - and get my knowledge enhanced.
Sorry about missing the cover - it's one of my favorite photos from the movie. Very iconic.


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It really is.


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Here is a photo of a "young Hewitt":




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And as we know him during the time period of this book: (Admiral Henry Kent Hewitt)


Admiral, United States Navy commander of amphibious operations in north Africa and southern Europe

Born :11-02-1887, Hackensack, New Jersey.Nationality :USA.

Died :15-09-1972, old age 85, Middlebury, Vermont

Buried :United States Naval Academy Cemetery, Annapolis Anne Arundel County, Maryland, Plot Section, 2 Lot 209.


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About Admiral Henry Kent Hewitt:

Henry Kent Hewitt, born 11-02-1887 in Hackensack, New Jersey, was a naval officer who directed important amphibious landings in Europe during World War II.

A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md., in 1906, Hewitt commanded the destroyer “Cummings” during World War I.

When World War II broke out, he was put in charge of naval forces first assigned to assist Allied landings in North Africa. Hewitt was promoted to rear admiral in 1939 and commanded Atlantic Fleet Task Groups in neutrality patrols and convoys from 1941 until becoming Commander, Amphibious Force, Atlantic Fleet, in April 1942. This force, also called Task Force 34, became the U.S. component of the Operation Torch landings in November 1942. Hewitt was then assigned as Commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Northwest Africa Waters. His flagships included USS Augusta while he commanded American naval forces at the Battle of Casablanca, Monrovia while he commanded the western task force during the invasion of Sicily and Ancon while he commanded all Allied amphibious forces during the invasion of Italy and later Anzio landings and invasion of southern France. Coordinating the action of warships and dive-bombers, he won a violent and decisive battle off Casablanca, November 1942, for which he was promoted to the temporary rank of vice admiral.

He commanded similar successful operations with the landings on Sicily, July 1943, Salerno, September, and in southern France, August 1944. Hewitt became commander of U.S. naval forces in Europe on 16-08-1945, retaining this post for more than a year. He subsequently served as U.S. naval representative on the military staff committee of the United Nations from 1947 until his retirement as admiral in 1949.

Living in Middlebury, Vermont Hewitt died at the old age of 85, on 15-09-1972 and is buried with his wife Floride, born Hunt, who died age 86 in 1973, on the United States Naval Academy Cemetery, Annapolis Anne Arundel County, Maryland.
(Source: http://ww2gravestone.com/general/hewi...)


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Patton and Rear Admiral H. Kent Hewitt aboard USS Augusta, off North Africa, 8 or 9 Nov 1942
(Source: United States National Archives)


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American troops aboard a landing craft en route to the beaches near Oran, Algeria, 8 Nov 1942
(Photographer - F. A. Hudson and Source: Imperial War Museum)


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Operation Torch
8 Nov 1942 - 16 Nov 1942


Contributor: C. Peter Chen

As the United States Army was becoming ready for war, although the Americans had wanted a direct assault on occupied Europe, American President Franklin Roosevelt lost the "the transatlantic essay competition" to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, resulting in the attention being placed on eliminating Axis forces from North Africa rather than a direct assault on continental Europe.

The long term goal was to relieve the pressure on the Allied forces in Egypt and to establish a base for a future invasion of Southern Europe.

The operation was to be placed under the overall command of US Lieutenant General Dwight Eisenhower, who would issue orders from Gibraltar. He had approved an attack plan that called for simultaneous landings at several ports along the Casablanca-Oran railway. Although the operation targeted territory under Axis influence, politically it was not as straight-forward, as it was Vichy French territory. Although the Vichy government had aligned with Germany, the Allies took the assumption that the 125,000 French and colonial ground troops would put up no more than token resistance.

The potential response of the French Navy, however, was more difficult to predict, as the British attacks on French naval forces at Mers-el-Kébir and Dakar in French West Africa, with the deaths of over 1,000 French servicemen, had severely strained British-French relations.

Initially the planners wished to strike east of Gibraltar to directly threaten Tunisia, which with Tunis and Bizerte represented two of the best deep water ports in North Africa, but ultimately the Allies conservatively chose landing sites much further west due to the threat of Spain potentially allowing the Germans to cross Spanish territory to invade Gibraltar, which might cut off any Allied contingents between Gibraltar and Tunisia.

Two weeks before the attack, on 21 Oct 1942, Eisenhower dispatched Major General Mark Clark aboard British submarine HMS Seraph (under disguise as an American submarine) to meet with Vichy French officers in an attempt to gain support, while Eisenhower also conducted several rounds of persuasion at Gibraltar. Among the high ranking French officers was General Henri Giraud, who was offered the post of commander-in-chief of French forces in North Africa after a successful operation should he choose to support it. Giraud demanded the position as overall commander of the operation in return, which was something that cannot be fulfilled by the Allies; nevertheless, he pledged to remain inactive at Gibraltar once the invasion began, thus eliminating him as a potential enemy. The influential French Admiral François Darlan, on the other hand, was offered by Eisenhower the position of overall French chief in French North Africa should he choose to join the Allies. This was met with fury by the Free French and the French Resistance as this represented a Vichy French-controlled North Africa rather than a Free French one. French General Antoine Béthouart was persuaded to join the Allies; at the eve of the invasion, 7 Nov 1942, he would attempt a failed coup d'etat, which, instead of causing confusion among French leadership, it actually alarmed those in command, who ordered defenses be bolstered.

Casablanca, French Morocco
8-16 Nov 1942


Sailing toward Casablanca was the Western Task Force under the overall command of US General George Patton, with US Rear Admiral Henry Hewitt as the naval commander of the fleet of 102 ships. Aboard, the 35,000 Americans organized in two infantry divisions and one armored division were shipped directly from the United States. US Army Major General Jimmy Doolittle's aircraft covered the operation, while naval aircraft from carrier USS Ranger also provided air cover.

The French defenses at Casablanca were formidable, as the port was a major French Navy base. The coastal batteries contained four 194-millimeter guns, four 138-millimeter guns, three 100-millimeter guns, and two 75-millimeter guns; the incomplete battleship Jean Bart, acting as a stationary gun platform, added four 380-millimeter guns mounted in one turret to the defensive armament. One light cruiser, two flotilla leanders, seven destroyers, eight sloops, eleven minesweepers, and eleven submarines were present on the day of the invasion.

The invasion fleet arrived at Casablanca to unprepared French defenses despite the French had detected this large fleet passing by the Strait of Gibraltar. The fleet broke up into three groups as follows.

Northern group (Operation Goalpost): Battleship USS Texas, cruiser USS Savannah, six destroyers, six troopships, and two cargo ships; 9,000 men of US 60th Infantry Regiment and 65 light tanks; assigned to attack Port Lyautey and its airfield

Southern group (Operation Blackstone): Battleship USS New York, cruiser USS Philadelphia, six destroyers, four troopships, and two cargo ships; 6,500 men of US 47th Infantry Regiment and 90 medium and light tanks; assigned to attack Safi

Center group (Operation Brushwood): Battleship USS Massachusetts, many cruisers, many destroyers, fifteen troopships, many cargo ships; 19,500 troops of US 3rd Infantry Division with 79 light tanks; assigned to attack Fedala 15 miles northeast of Casablanca
At 0000 hours, center group troopships dropped anchor 8 miles off of Fedala, which was 15 miles northeast of Casablanca. At 0210 hours, French troops manning the battery at Pont Blondin reported the presence of American naval activity off Fedala, and an alert was ordered at 0325 hours. American guide boats set out at 0145 hours and they were all in place by 0500 hours. At 0357, French personnel at Safi reported the sighting of enemy destroyers. At about 0400, American aircraft began dropping propaganda leaflets over Casablanca. At 0420 hours, French fleet at Morocco, Marine Maroc, ordered submarines to patrol off Casablanca. At 0430 hours, French auxiliary sloop Estafette was boarded by the Americans, and the crew's distress signal led to a general alert issued by Marine Maroc. At 0505 hours, French Admiralty ordered the Marine Maroc to sortie against Allied shipping traffic west of Gibraltar. The first wave of American landing craft approached the landing beaches at 0545 hours, before daybreak. French coastal guards illuminated the American vessels by searchlights, but the lights were quickly destroyed by machine guns mounted on Allied ships. By dawn, 3,500 American troops had already landed. Just before 0700 hours, two French aircraft approached the fleet, but they were driven off by anti-aircraft gunfire. At 0700 hours, French submarines Amazone, Antiope, Meduse, Orphee, and La Sybille began maneuvering to defensive positions. Shortly after 0700 hours, the coastal batteries opened fire, damaging destroyers USS Ludlow and USS Murphy. Although Patton had been instructed not to conduct any pre-invasion naval bombardment to minimize the bloodshed on the defenders as to achieve a better political standing with the French, at 0720 hours, Admiral Hewitt authorized returned fire on the French guns. Destroyers USS Ludlow and USS Wilkes were successful in silencing the French guns at the Point Blondin battery, while cruiser USS Augusta silenced the guns at the Fedala battery. At 0750 hours, French fighters engaged the oncoming American bombers with escorting fighters, with 7 French and 5 American fighters lost in the ensuing fight, but the French fighters were unsuccessful in stopping the American bombers, which dropped bombs on Casablanca harbor at 0804 hours, sinking French submarine Amphitrite, and at least 12 other civilian and military ships.

Patton landed on the beach at 0800 hours to personally lead the invasion from the front lines.

Shortly after, battleship USS Massachusetts and cruisers USS Wichita and USS Tuscaloosa, with a screen of four destroyers (USS Mayrant, USS Rhind, USS Wainwright, and USS Jenkins), joined the attack on the French coastal batteries. The guns of the El Hank battery straddled USS Massachusetts with its first salvo at 0804 hours, while a salvo from Jean Bart also landed 600 yards off the starboard side of the American battleship at 0808 hours and then another to port shortly after. USS Massachusetts chose to target Jean Bart, hitting her with the 5th salvo at 0825 hours (7 minutes after Jean Bart was hit by an aerial bomb), which jammed her turret rotating mechanism, rendering her guns useless. Between 0835 and 0836 hours, shells from Massachusetts, although missing Jean Bart, caused damage. Massachusetts ceased fired between 0840 and 0848 while attempting to find out Jean Bart's condition, and after spotter aircraft reported that Jean Bart remained operational, Massachusetts opened fire again at 0848 hours.

While the American and French ships exchanged shells, American aircraft bombarded the port. Passenger ships Porthos, Savoie, and Lipari, some still under the process of being evacuated of their civilian passengers from Dakar, were hit as well.

At 0900 hours, off Fedala, seven ships of the French 2nd Light Squadron sortied, making smoke as they approached the American ships. At 0918 hours, a F4F Wildcat fighter launched from USS Ranger spotted the French column; the pilot reported the findings via radio and expressed his intention to strafe the French ships with other fellow pilots. Two minutes later at 0920 hours, French destroyer Milan, leader of the attack with Contre-Amiral Raymond de Lafond aboard, spotted the American ships, but at the same time the American F4F Wildcat fighters struck, injuring Lafond and killing the executive officer of destroyer Brestois. At 0925 hours, Milan led the other French destroyers in attacking destroyers USS Wilkes, USS Swanson, and USS Ludlow; the American ships fled northward amidst geysers of missed rounds, though Ludlow was hit once. At 0930 hours, Milan's guns turned and fired at the Higgins boats carrying American troops toward the shore; one boat was sunk and another was damaged; this was the only time that an American amphibious assault was attacked by hostile forces from the sea. 0934 hours, French destroyer Albatros hit USS Ludlow, blasting a hole in the main deck and wounding four men. At 0940 hours, Milan spotted USS Augusta and USS Brooklyn; outgunned, Lafond turned around in the hope that he would be able to lure the American cruisers closer to the coastal guns at El Hank, but the Americans did not follow. Three minutes later, USS Augusta opened fire, followed by USS Brooklyn a moment later. At 1115 hours, USS Brooklyn hit French light cruiser Primauguet, causing minor damage. Five minutes later, Primauguet was hit three more times, but none of the American shells detonated. At 1140 hours, Albatros was damaged at the bow by a near miss. At 1145 hours, tug Lavandou approached the battle-damaged Milan to evacuate the wounded, while Contre-Amiral Lafond relocated his command to the sloop Commandant Delage. Milan was beached to prevent sinking shortly after. At 1146 hours, Albatros hit USS Brooklyn's No. 1 5-inch gun mount, wounding 5, but the shell failed to detonate thus the American cruiser avoided worse damage. USS Massachusetts was hit by light cruiser Primauguet at 1157 hours, but it only caused minor damage. About five minutes later, the American observed that the French naval resistance was in general becoming ineffective, thus USS Massachusetts was ordered to cease fire to conserve ammunition in case the French battleship Richelieu appeared on the scene; shortly after, USS August also disengaged from battle. Although fighting continued off Casablanca, actions were not great. At 1456 hours, USS Augusta's spotter aircraft reported all surviving French ships as heavily damaged.


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Operation Torch - continued:

Between 1500 and 1600 hours, sloop Commandant Delage attempted to rescue French seamen in the sea, but it was strafed by American aircraft on several occasions. At 1605 hours, American ships withdrew. Primauguet and Albatros were beached to prevent sinking. During the fighting, French submarine Amazone fired a salvo of torpedoes against USS Brooklyn, but all torpedoes missed.

At the end of the day, the Americans believed that Jean Bart had been disabled for good, but they did not realize that French shipyard workers were on the double in the repair of the damaged turret rotating mechanism.

Safi surrendered in the afternoon of 8 Nov.

The American attack on Port Lyautey (now Kenitra, Morocco) was under the command of Major General Lucian Truscott. The landing forces easily overwhelmed the light defenses at the beach village of Mehdiya. US Colonel Demas Craw and Major Pierpont Hamilton approached Port Lyautey in the morning of 8 Nov in pursuit of a diplomatic end to the attacks, but as they approached a road fork outpost, a nervous French soldier pulled the trigger on his machine gun out of instinct, killing Craw. Hamilton proceeded with his mission, meeting French Colonel Charles Petit, only to find that Petit lacked the authority to make any decision to cease fighting. On 9 Nov, American troops continued their attack on the fort of Kasbah, which began on the previous day.

On 10 Nov 1942, French ships Commandant Delage, La Gracieuse, and La Servannaise sortied at 1110 hours to open fire on American troops advancing on the ground from Fedala to the outskirts of Casablanca, successfully driving back the American attack. USS Augusta and destroyers USS Edison and SS Tillman responded, driving the French ships back into Casablanca harbor; Commandant Delage was hit once, killing 5 men. The American ships were caught by surprise, however, as the large caliber guns of Jean Bart fired on them, driving them back. USS Ranger dispatched nine dive bombers to attack Jean Bart, hitting her with two 450-kilogram bombs, causing flooding, sinking her in shallow waters at 1600 hours. In response, French submarines Le Tonnant, Meduse, and Antiope counter attacked USS Ranger, USS Massachusetts, and USS Tuscaloosa, respectively with torpedoes, but none hit; Meduse was damaged by American gunfire during the attack and had to be beached off Cape Blanc by her crew.

On 10 Nov, the Americans captured Kasbah near Port Lyautey, which led to the fall of the port as well as the nearby airfield. Patton later praised French efforts at the Port Lyautey area, particularly at the face of overwhelming American strength.

One hour prior to the scheduled ground invasion on Casablanca on 11 Nov, the French garrison there surrendered. French submarines Amazone and Antiope escaped to Dakar, while Orphee returned to Casablanca after it had surrendered.

Also on 11 Nov, German submarines arrived to attack the American fleet. In the early morning, U-173 attacked destroyer USS Hambleton, oiler USS Winooski and troopship USS Joseph Hewes; the former two were damaged, and USS Joseph Hewes sank, taking 100 lives. Later on that day, French submarine Sidi Ferruch was sunk by TBF Avenger torpedo bombers of squadron VGS-27 from escort carrier USS Suwanee. In the afternoon of 12 Nov, U-130 sank troopships USS Tasker H. Bliss, USS Hugh L. Scott, and USS Edward Rutledge with torpedoes, killing 74 men. On 13 Nov, an American PBY Catalina aircraft detected French submarine Le Conquerant off Villa Cisneros, Spanish Morocco; Le Conquerant's crew scuttled her off Cadiz, Spain on 15 Nov. On 16 Nov, American destroyers sank German submarine U-173 off Casablanca.

Oran, French Algeria
8-9 Nov 1942


US Major General Lloyd Fredendall commanded the Center Task Force, which was tasked to invade Oran; British Commodore Thomas Troubridge acted as the naval commander. The transports of the task force carried one infantry division, one armored division, and one paratrooper regiment, totaling 18,500 American servicemen. Major General Doolittle's American aircraft also supported this invasion target, along with Casablanca.

The invasions took place on four sites, two west of Oran, Arzew to the east of Oran, and the port of Oran itself. Landings at the westernmost beach was delayed by the unexpected presence of a French convoy and the unexpected shallowness of the water that damaged some landing craft; the latter would prove to be a lesson to be learned regarding the importance of proper intelligence gathering for later amphibious operations in the European War. At Arzew, the US 1st Ranger Battalion captured the coastal battery smoothly. The landing attempt at Oran harbor, however, proved to be costly; although the French warships defending the port was driven off, damage to Allied warships caused many casualties. Proving the Allied planners wrong, French troops at Oran fought on stubbornly, surrendering only on 9 Nov after a heavy naval bombardment by British battleships.

Simultaneous to the 8 Nov amphibious invasion, an airborne assault was also conducted at Oran, targeting at Tafraoui and La Senia airfields 15 and 5 miles south of Oran. This attack conducted by the US 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment represented the first major American airborne operation. They were flown from Britain, over Spain, to the drop zone. The operation was marred by various communications and weather-related problems; because the latter, 30 of the 37 transport aircraft experienced so much trouble that they landed in the dry salt lake to deliver their loads of troops rather than having the men jump. Nevertheless, both airfields were captured to prevent French interference from the air.

Algiers, French Algeria
8 Nov 1942


The third and final major target of Operation Torch was Algiers, which fell under the responsibility of British Lieutenant General Kenneth Anderson's Eastern Task Force; British Vice Admiral Sir Harold Burrough served under him as the naval commander of the fleet of 650 ships, while US Major General Charles Ryder was to be placed in command for the amphibious operation. The 20,000 men sailing with this invasion force were of a mix of British and American servicemen, with one British infantry division, one American infantry division, and two British commando battalion-sized units. Above, British aircraft under the command of Air Marshal Sir William Welsh supported the ground and naval operations.

The invasion on Algiers was preceded by the uprising of 400 French Resistance fighters under the leadership of Henri d'Astier de la Vigerie and José Aboulker. The uprising by the resistance fighters, which began at 0000 hours, seized control of the telephone exchange, radio station, governor's house, the headquarters of French 19th Corps, and most importantly, all of the coastal artillery batteries. At the governor's house, General Alphonse Juin and Admiral Darlan (whose presence was not expected) remained under captivity by the resistance fighters until the fighters were surrounded and defeated by French Gendarmerie military police after daybreak.

The landings of Allied troops were planned to target three separate beaches near Algiers, but in the confusion some of the troops were delivered to the wrong location. Nevertheless, French coastal defense at Algiers proved to be minimal, especially with all the coastal guns under the control of resistance fighters. The only major fighting in the invasion took place in the port of Algiers (Operation Terminal), where two British destroyers attempted to land US Rangers were met with heavy artillery fire. Only one of the two destroyers was able to disembark passengers, and the 250 Rangers promptly took control of the docks.

General Juin surrendered Algiers at 1800 hours on 8 Nov 1942.


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Operation Torch - continued

Epilogue

On 9 Nov, amidst fighting, Darlan signed an armistice with Eisenhower. On the following day, Darlan distributed a message to all French forces to cease fighting against the Allies. The ease of French leaders being persuaded to remain inactive or to cooperate alarmed Adolf Hitler, who would soon decide to act against Vichy France to prevent such an occurrence should the Allies invade Southern France. The Vichy government, with Philippe Pétain at its head, also immediately moved against Darlan, dismissing him dishonorably. Darlan, embarrassed by to dismissal, felt the need to rescind his order, but he was dissuaded by Clark.

Beginning on 9 Nov, Axis forces began building up in Tunisia in response of the Anglo-American invasion to the west. French General Barré, with some delay, set up a defensive line from Teboursouk to Medjez el Bab in Tunisia to curb Axis movement, but this line was penetrated by the Axis troops under Walter Nehring after two attacks.

Sources:
John Jordan, Warship 2011
Wikipedia


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Operation Torch Timeline

8 Mar 1941
Erich Raeder warned Adolf Hitler of a possible American landing in northwest Africa should the United States enter the war.

8 Jul 1942
Winston Churchill urged Franklin Roosevelt to agree to Operation Gymnast, a plan to jointly invade North Africa, since "[n]o responsible British general, admiral, or air marshal is prepared to recommend [a cross channel attack] as a practicable operation in 1942."

14 Jul 1942
US President Franklin Roosevelt ordered the Joint Chiefs of Staff to abandon major offensive operations in the Pacific Theater and instead direct planning efforts on the invasion of North Africa.

24 Jul 1942
With the US High Command threatening to withdraw entirely from the European theatre of war, President Franklin Roosevelt interceded and informed Prime Minister Winston Churchill that he now accepted the British point of view regarding delaying the opening of a Second Front in North West Europe until 1943 or 1944. At the same time he agreed to a proposed Anglo-American landing in French North Africa later in the year.

9 Oct 1942
Galeazzo Ciano noted in his diary that Italian intelligence had learned that the Allies were planning on invading North Africa, and it concerned him as a successful Allied campaign there would put Italy in danger.

15 Oct 1942
Alfred Jodl suggested to Adolf Hitler to order Vichy France to strengthen its defenses in North Africa as intelligence indicated a possible Allied attack; Hitler rejected the suggestion as he thought the Italians would object to any moves that strengthened France.

21 Oct 1942
US Major General Mark Clark, aboard British submarine HMS Seraph (which was under disguise as an American submarine), began negotiations with Vichy French commanders in North Africa in preparation of Operation Torch.

23 Oct 1942
Allied convoy UCF 1, containing troops and equipment for the invasion of French North Africa, departed Chesapeake Bay, United States.

26 Oct 1942
Allied convoy UCF 1, containing troops and equipment for the invasion of French North Africa, was met by a covering force of battleships and cruisers which had sailed from Casco Bay, Maine, United States.

28 Oct 1942
Allied convoy UCF 1, containing troops and equipment for the invasion of French North Africa, was met by carriers Ranger, Sangamon, Suwannee, Chenango, and Santee which had sailed from Bermuda. Task Force 34 now contained the full invasion force of 102 ships, carrying 35,000 American troops; the force sailed for Casablanca.

5 Nov 1942
German intelligence reported that a large Allied fleet had departed Gibraltar.

7 Nov 1942
Vichy French General Antoine Béthouart attempted a failed coup d'etat in North Africa, which alarmed defenses.

8 Nov 1942
Allied forces attacked French ports of Casablanca, Oran, and Algeria in North Africa during Operation Torch. The French garrison at Safi, near Casablanca, surrendered to the Americans; meanwhile, Algiers surrendered at 1800 hours.

9 Nov 1942
American troops continued to attack the French fort of Kasbah, French Morocco. Meanwhile, in French Algeria, the French garrison at Oran surrendered in the face of overwhelming British naval power and American airborne attack in its rear. French Admiral Darlan signed an armistice with American General Eisenhower, but fighting would continue for two more days. Finally, in Tunisia, Axis troops under Walter Nehring attacked Vichy French positions as Vichy French forces in North Africa were apparently switching sides to aide the Allies.

10 Nov 1942
French submarine Le Tonnant attacked USS Ranger off French Morocco at 1000 hours; all four torpedoes missed, and the American counterattack was equally ineffective. On land, American troops captured the French fort of Kasbah, which led to the fall of Port Lyautey. At Casablanca, American ships sortied to respond to an attack by French sloops only to be surprised by an operational Jean Bart; aircraft from USS Ranger was launched to sink Jean Bart in shallow water by bombing.

11 Nov 1942
Germany withdrew 25 submarines from the North Atlantic to attack the Allied shipping off North Africa; on the same day, submarine U-173 damaged destroyer USS Hambleton, oiler USS Winooski and troopship USS Joseph Hewes near Casablanca, French Morocco, sinking Joseph Hewes and killing 100. On land, the French garrison at Casablanca officially surrendered to the Americans.

12 Nov 1942
German submarine U-130 sank troopships USS Tasker H. Bliss, USS Hugh L. Scott, and USS Edward Rutledge with torpedoes, killing 74.
13 Nov 1942 US Navy pilot Lieutenant H. S. Blake detected Vichy French submarine Le Conquerant 700 miles off Casablanca, French Morocco, which refused to answer recognition signals when challenged. Blake attacked, blowing off the conning tower, and sank the submarine with all aboard lost.

16 Nov 1942
American destroyers sank German submarine U-173 off Casablanca, French Morocco.


message 42: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Sep 09, 2013 02:31PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
Soldiers were met with new challenges on the North African front during World War II.

World War II in North Africa. (2013). The History Channel website. Retrieved 5:28, September 9, 2013, from http://www.history.com/videos/world_w...


message 43: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
This is an interesting video from ContinentalTV - some great footage:

World War II In HD "The Mediterranean And North Africa"

http://youtu.be/RlltXEfZWss


message 44: by Michael (new) - added it

Michael (michaelbl) | 407 comments Where is the discussion of the trilogy at right now. Have I missed real time discussion of all three books?


Bryan Craig We finished number one, and the second one will be sometime this year, I imagine. We will keep you posted.


message 46: by Michael (new) - added it

Michael (michaelbl) | 407 comments Thanks Bryan. I am actually on the third book but this is my opinion one of the best works available on the European Theater of WW2


message 47: by Bryan (last edited Sep 02, 2014 06:02AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bryan Craig Great Michael, I bought the third one myself and I am looking forward to reading the next two. They really are great works of history here.

The Day of Battle The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 by Rick Atkinson The Guns at Last Light The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945 by Rick Atkinson by Rick Atkinson Rick Atkinson


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