Seafires and Fulmars subsequently flew recon
missions, coordinating with ground forces, breaking even against Dewoitines later in the day.
But the Germans responded. Early that morning, after putting troops ashore at Algiers, the
transport USS Leedstown (AP-73) was attacked by
Junkers Ju 88s. One put a torpedo into her stern,
leaving her largely immobile. The next day, she
survived a bombing attack, but she was finished
by a U-boat on the 11th.
By midday on the 10th, the Algiers airfields
were operating Allied fighters, while the Oran
bases accepted other aircraft.
At sea that day, HMS Argus was protecting convoys offshore, where she drew attention from Ju
88s, which damaged her flight deck. That night,
a U-boat narrowly missed her with torpedoes.
Then on the 11th, she shrugged off both air and
submarine attacks, only being strafed by an Italian SM-79.
HMS Avenger was not so fortunate. On the 15th,
she took a torpedo from yet another U-boat,
exploding with merely 17 survivors. In the press
of wartime operations, she had not received pro-
tective modifications of some of her sisters.
Axis submarines were active and successful.
Between the 8th and the 12th, they sank four
U.S. transport ships and shared another with tor-
Formidable and Victorious Albacores, however,
exacted some revenge by sinking two U-boats,
including U-331 that destroyed the 32,000-ton
battleship Barham a year before. The latter repre-
sented a missed opportunity because the carrier
aircrews did not know that the sub was crippled
by an RAF Hudson and was unable to dive.
(A postscript: After covering the Algerian land-
ings, the U.S.-built escort carrier HMS Avenger
was en route home when torpedoed by a U-boat
off Gibraltar on the 15th. She sank with 516 of
Five American and seven British carriers had
supported widespread Allied landings along a
700-mile front on the Atlantic and Mediterra-
nean coasts. Operation Torch thus delivered an
ominous message to the western Axis powers:
Allied sea power and airpower would only grow
in strength and capability.
Invasion ground commanders
for the Western Assault
Force’s objective of Casa
blanca, Gen. George S. Patton
and his deputy, Gen. Geoffrey
Keyes, embark from the
cruiser USS Augusta (CA 31)
on December 12 to establish
their headquarters in Casa
blanca. (Photo courtesy of