Academic journal article Military Review

Torch: North Africa and the Allied Path to Victory

Academic journal article Military Review

Torch: North Africa and the Allied Path to Victory

Article excerpt


North Africa and the Allied Path to Victory

Vincent P. O'Hara, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland, 2015, 373 pages

The North African invasion in World War II, Operation Torch, is not a new subject for historians, but Vincent O'Hara takes a fresh look and brings some new perspective. Torch was much larger than a single amphibious invasion. It was a political decision far more than a strategic one. O'Hara dissects both the American and British views in detail. He also looks at a player less commonly considered and successfully integrates the French perspective into the narrative.

Beyond the political concerns of needing to get American troops into the fight in the European theater in 1942, the British and Americans tried to convince themselves that Torch would aid the Russians by engaging German troops. At the time, 70 percent of the German forces were facing the Russians and averaging 1,706 killed per day (over four years). In twenty-six months in North Africa, German casualties averaged sixteen per day, not exactly compelling evidence for Torch helping the Russians.

O'Hara writes that the Allies feared the Germans would attack through Egypt, to connect with forces in Iraq coming down from Turkey and Iran and ultimately to connect with Japanese troops attacking across the Indian subcontinent. He argues convincingly that this was neither part of the Axis strategy nor realistic based on their logistic capabilities. What the reader does not learn was how much of this strategic fear was "Allied" and how much was British concern for the loss of their empire. …

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