On Memorial Day, Reminders of 1942 Allied Landings

This November will mark the 70th anniversary of Operation Torch, when Allied forces converged on North Africa and eventually drove Axis forces from the continent.


TALIM Operation Torch US Military Cemetery

US Army Photograph by Sgt. Robert A. Edwards, Signal Corps, week of January 17, 1943. From the papers of OSS officer Gordon Browne, Tangier American Legation


The barely legible caption stamped on the reverse reads:

PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT'S VISIT TO CASABLANCA – A Presidential wreath decorates an American cemetery in North Africa.  Near the entrance to the Kasbah Mahdia is the "U.S.A. Military Cemetery," so designated by an entrance sign in French, English, and Arabic.  Against the flagpole President Roosevelt's party placed a wreath during the President's tour in North Africa.  Close to the flagpole appear white crosses, marking the graves of American soldier dead; behind them are French graves.

Roosevelt, in a joint press conference with Winston Churchill at the January 1943 Anfa (Casablanca) Conference, mentions the cemetery visit…

… at the mouth of Port Lyautey where the very heavy fighting occurred and where a large number of Americans and Frenchmen were killed. Their bodies, most of them, lie in a joint cemetery – French and American. I placed a wreath where the American graves are, and another wreath where the French graves are.

The American dead from this and other battlefield burial places associated with Torch and the ensuing campaign against Rommel's Afrika Korps in Tunisia were later moved to the American Battle Monuments Commission North Africa Cemetery in Carthage, outside Tunis.

There remains a monument to the Americans of Operation Torch at the French Military Cemetery in the Casablanca neighborhood of Ben M'Sik, which also has a small Commonwealth War Graves cemetery.

Gerald Loftus

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.