Also in this playlist...
This transcript is automatically generated
Tonight on war scores the first desert storm it was locked in stone and battling Hitler's desert fox Erwin Rommel was -- -- -- shale here in general path.
Of a massacre of America.
Everything was cut off the greatest -- for the American World War II but the Americans fight back.
Reward that's next on war stories.
Good evening I'm Oliver -- and -- the war stories -- is that.
National training center where America's military.
Ratings for desert warfare.
And it was never hear them -- I -- that's during World War II.
An American forces trained for their first desert war in North Africa.
Tonight we're gonna bring you the story of the North African campaign.
First allied offensive against -- -- American troops.
He's -- combat hardened German army led by Erwin Rommel the desert fox.
These were battles fought the bear and track was rated North Africa -- inexperienced leaders and law American soldiers some just weeks out of recruit train.
So the horror of war for the first time.
General George Patton understood how crucial this battle in the desert would be to defeating that was sports.
Book -- -- And on their victory defended the freedom or slavery.
Of the human race we -- surely win.
But as you'll see tonight the decisive victory pat.
-- -- -- almost diluted the allies.
This North African desert.
Vast landscape where nothing is quite what it seems it's -- -- without water.
It's mysteries of made it a land of intrigue and espionage.
Armies of -- over almost since time began.
The exotic streets of the Egyptian capital see the world apart from the storm brewing a continent away in Europe.
But in the -- alleys and alongside ancient monuments the city on the Nile was full entry and.
When war broke out in Europe it was a colony of Great Britain -- meant it wouldn't remain outside the -- The capital Cairo was the largest most important city in North Africa.
In 1939 North Africa looked very much it does today to the west of Egypt Libya.
And Morocco seventeen million people.
The combined area almost as large as the continental United States its strategic value -- Any power -- This was not lost on British prime minister Winston Churchill.
Can control North African who really control the Mediterranean.
Rick Atkinson is the author of an army at dawn the war in North Africa.
And opened up Suez Canal have access to India and the Far East Churchill vowed to hold Egypt no matter what.
He wasn't the only European leader who understood the strategic importance of North Africa.
Italians have had great imperial ambitions in the Mussolini.
The Mussolini had to.
Made an effort to expand his African empire can gobble up some -- Collins.
When Mussolini even tried to dressed like an -- For a millennium Italy been a great power in the Mediterranean.
With -- -- wanted more.
1911 Italy invaded Libya followed by Ethiopia in 1930.
When Hitler's army invaded Poland in 1930 -- it was only a matter of time for the fighting in the game.
From September 1940 Mussolini he's black shirts.
The Italian version of Germany storm troopers swept it.
Egypt and attacked the but Mussolini's troops were poorly trained and equipped and then.
Italians were quickly repulsed by a much smaller British force.
At that point Hitler recognized and could not afford to have his most important European allies Italy.
Defeated in North Africa.
He decided that he would send a very capable.
Officer and -- Erwin Rommel.
Erwin Rommel was -- -- lieutenant colonel mark Riordan is a senior military historian with the US army he was.
As well known to his opponents -- to the German people at home in his own troops one of the things Rommel did do was to basically pioneer.
The ideas combined arms warfare.
He'd done in Europe.
He tries it and in Africa he was a risk taker.
Which many jails were not.
The desert fox cut his teeth on the battlefields of World War I and became one of Hitler's most trusted warriors.
He wasn't typical German general is not a member of the Nazi party per say but.
He was loyal enough that he commanded.
Hitler's personal garbage time vision poll.
As commander of the African war Ron led the -- power in fierce fighting the British.
But while one -- and the fighting with the British legion.
The other was on North Africa where he quickly took control of the French colonies of Morocco Algeria and Tunisia.
When Germany invaded France and early summer of 1940.
And had control of the conference short order.
Hitler then offered a kind of deal with a double to the French he's so you can move your capital since -- -- Paris now to the spot on the issue.
And you may also keep -- or -- we colonies in North Africa Morocco Algeria.
To the BC government and its citizens appeared independent in truth.
They were under Hitler's direct control so we see them having agreed that they will fight anyone who tries to come ashore North Africa.
But no -- saw that the first opponents the French would face in North Africa would come from the American heartland.
As World War II spread from country to country around the world.
Back home Americans were reluctant to get involved.
The country was coming out of the Great Depression.
Most people who simply trying to make ends meet it was a long enough proud tradition of isolationism -- the American republic United States did not want to get involved.
This national sentiment was reflected an armed forces.
Far from being a super power the American army at the time -- always the seventeenth largest in the world.
Just behind Romania we still had the old bell hill -- from world war war.
And wouldn't guarantee.
Seventeen year old Joseph -- I joined the Iowa National Guard in December 31 1939.
I was living -- my sister and deployed our -- and.
I needed to gain a little money and get a little discipline in my life -- I joined the National Guard.
Joining -- not the Iowa National Guard was a farm boy named -- -- Had a good friend that was in regard then then took -- -- all are drilled him.
Got a little little children for 21 -- that one -- -- That looked awful -- Found himself another country boy wanted to get off the farm is named Jefferson white.
He hailed from Tallahassee Florida former labor -- it might be -- today -- from -- out torn off I'll get get away.
-- The despite this young and inexperienced army all things changed in the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.
December 7 1941.
I remember being able to ship bearing the -- because they threw us into up.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Trying you know for war what mission do you get that point.
-- the Pearl Harbor the bottom we've got it made it pretty I mean they hit it pretty.
Or -- day.
-- any of the sergeants or any of the trainers.
Had experience in any combat role -- copy Barbara was in World War I.
One of the squad leaders of World War I.
And that was that.
The rest of -- you don't want kids we know we're gonna combat but we didn't know more.
That was being waged in the Pacific and Europe these young green troops had no idea where -- -- -- the last place and are they thought -- be fighting.
With a remote deserts of North Africa.
American -- award comes up with a daring plan to take on the German army.
-- war stories.
But 1942 the American war effort was in full swing our -- ready to join the war.
The only problem was.
Getting them there.
Passenger ships like the queen Mary and they -- in wartime -- and quickly converted to troop transports them.
Police were luxury liners being refitted and everything was done in a hurry in I mean it was.
Done Atlanta productions -- on trucks come on the American.
Robert Green has been an RTC could -- -- Penn state university.
He became an officer when war broke out and joined the first infantry division the big red one we knew we were getting ready to go overseas we didn't know where.
We're scheduled to leave on a normal -- and it bird.
And so we were delayed two -- three -- -- ownership could be repaired.
For the spring of 42 American soldiers started pouring in to England Scotland and NORTHERN IRELAND.
Trading for what they thought would be a European war.
British army already more than two years and it's war -- Nazi Germany.
A lot of experience and not much confidence that new untested American -- On the one hand they needed us and -- -- desperately.
On the other hand there was wariness about what we can really bring to the table in terms of our military.
Prowess the suspicion was -- room.
Without -- pretty deep -- and homophobia.
In the United States in this extended into the higher ranks of the American army.
This clash of cultures was even felt among ordinary GI's.
British rationed British cigarette British area.
T what what do troops think of that not -- We're not exactly eager.
The Americans and the British -- not only over T.
But over how to defeat Hitler there was bitter disagreement over how to proceed.
Food fight first where -- fight them.
American generals including army chief of staff George C Marshall one to immediately invade Europe and strike at the heart of Hitler's empire the 34 division.
The first armored division first in division I had all gone to England because the American military players.
We're looking at invasion of France Churchill argued that the allies should attack the edges of the German empire and invade North Africa.
They don't have Hitler's fortress Europe surrounded and could strike from the south to Italy or Greece he persuaded.
One man whose vote counted for the Americans that was Franklin Roosevelt with a strategy said president Roosevelt ordered his military commanders to start planning the invasion of North Africa.
Code named operation torch.
Roosevelt also selected a young inexperienced lieutenant general to head the operation Dwight.
At this point is met a man who has never commanded a platoon in combat outpost and command army.
Also involved in the planning another little known general George S Patton to 56 year old -- was languishing in Fort Benning Georgia and watching the war in Europe.
As early as six -- seven years old.
He announced that he was going to become not just a military man -- a great military leader author Robert -- is the grandson general George Patton when general -- was given command.
In -- -- to the torch invasions.
He was primarily charged with getting an untried untested -- blooded group of American soldiers ready for -- It was completely he's a man.
-- eyes on the prize the American military leaders put aside their differences with -- British allies and together they've mapped out the details of operation -- Already in England captain Robert Green worked in the cabinet.
Our war room was down in saint James park where underground.
There's that communication often working with.
The 78 division headquarters.
So I became acquainted with the book was going wrong operation torch anticipated.
To large convoy -- Landing in Africa simultaneously on November 8 1942.
Was to proceed from East Coast United States.
They were to land in Morocco.
-- -- convoy was going from ports on the West Coast of Britain.
They were to land in Algeria.
At that point forces -- to pivot to the east.
And proceed about 500 miles to Tunisia.
The belief was that if he gets its initiative because he used to -- the capital.
You would end up controlling all of North Africa.
With the allied leaders needed intelligence to play an operation torch and the relied and -- vast underground network of spies.
And OSS operatives already in place in North Africa.
And we were allowed to have diplomats in North Africa.
That doesn't -- known as the twelve apostles.
They've gathered a lot of information about courts about rail lines about roads about the strength of Haitian forces.
The twelve apostles at the moment -- From Cairo to Casablanca.
It was after.
-- teaming -- -- you never know who's sitting at a table next to you.
We're dancing in front of him.
-- the most famous belly dancer in Egypt is accused of being the German spy.
This part of the world was immortalized in the movie Casablanca.
And liked in Rick's American cafe.
The French -- she forces were totally unpredictable -- the decision is made only in North Africa and the expectations that the French forces.
Won't opposes some of the higher level planners.
Had hoped that because these were American troops and in the leading waves at the French.
Would remember the fact that we come over to Tressel -- want.
And that helped defeat imperial Germany in 1918.
Many including general Patton didn't want to fight the French but we're prepared to do so.
At the French oppose the allied invasion.
They were the enemy and -- regarded them therefore -- the belligerents there for us.
The people that we're going to try to kill.
In the first allied offensive against -- more than a 100000 men stormed the beaches of North Africa in operation porch that's next.
On war stories.
That November of 42 an armada of 500 allied ships carrying more than a 107000.
-- from ports in the United States and Great Britain.
And -- into the North Atlantic to begin the largest allied amphibious operation to date.
For most of the American troops this would be the first time and come back.
Captain Robert green was among them and assemble -- that.
Well and from there we're going on board ship.
What were your thoughts as you're getting ready for that landing and -- -- -- to our family.
-- them to be -- we've got the word.
Vote on -- -- that we still -- your destination.
Jeff white in the second armored division left from Virginia in the convoy was general Patton payload that's that would reaffirm -- -- sobering -- Reelected back and let it happen and it wasn't just the GI's -- were fearful.
You -- -- writing in his diaries.
Wondering how he's gonna perform.
Is a man on pins and needles and doesn't know what -- Doesn't know how his own troops are gonna fight so he's a man who.
Really is kind of on the on them on the edge.
The two convoys came together -- Gibraltar off the coast of North Africa.
There they were finally given their lending workers.
And we look at and we would go with at -- if onboard this table in the field -- I'll go back.
And we were gonna go in at 11 o'clock that the table from that meeting.
But we had three air.
Very very it appropriate -- if you don't we go they wouldn't be enough there because they did not know what.
They showed us a mock up model.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- They've reaped a song on our.
-- our beach and our code name was given that the torch landings were going to take place before dawn in the dark.
Kind of password.
Was was -- -- particular call sign that was chosen was George means.
What one would shout out and patent and what one would hear and.
He was virtually.
Before the landing where it was a very broadcast propaganda leaflet drops that kind of thing told the French they were -- kind of liberating thing.
-- announcement by president Roosevelt.
That would have been broadcast Central Africa so they will inform.
The French people that they were landing pleased enough fire on the Americans.
It and -- -- your and we.
Children go back out on that -- knew little about you're wrong.
Didn't work on a man.
And believe me -- yeah and when -- made a pool.
You can't go wrong look terrible.
And -- Vietnam.
Not -- There was no certainty about what difference would do there was an effort to make differently -- -- all Americans know about 13 of the troops from Britain.
The British soldiers wore American flag.
This is one of the arm -- worn during operation torch.
Morning of November 8 off twelve years we knew -- revolt all that it reminded.
In the dark.
Any enemies their Wake -- there were a bunch of both French soldiers.
Resist would -- this fire -- The French navy I came the closest.
For a while getting killed if you.
And -- -- -- -- out of our humble and general Patton came up and a share of the heat don't get of 1942.
American tanks were nothing like this in fact there were no match for Edwards and North Africa.
So how did we win those crucial battles.
That's ahead on war stories.
Operation torch was launched at night on November 8 1942.
For the next 24 hours over a 100000 American and British soldiers stormed the shores of north that.
There -- two main landing areas one was out here is the other was wrong.
And at the same time you have about 35004000.
Soldiers and -- come.
War near Casablanca.
Machine Gunner Joseph -- not landed in Algiers with a 34 infantry division as part of the eastern task force and -- would -- children.
Atlanta is so wrong and they made -- -- -- glass room.
And you can imagine that.
Landing craft going up and down like this and you're coming down a rope ladders off the troop -- in order.
Not exactly happy campers -- that it and me I had tears coming out of mind.
44 year old captain Robert Green went -- in Iran.
Quite a -- an English -- in the French flawed.
Fascinating foreclosures they had positioned for Long Beach here to -- the war.
The French from eight to live at the November 03 days the Americans suffered several thousand -- Inflicted several thousand -- French -- people there.
Including the -- One of the great naval battles.
Atlantic war occurred.
Off the coast Casablanca.
French police and the American -- it ended badly with a friend.
When this story.
It was no match.
-- -- -- -- -- The French forces North Africa surrendered after three days of play.
-- allied army now control the French colonies of Morocco and Algeria.
And the green American army had passed its first test under fire he found a very quickly who was a good leader.
Who was not good leadership would be essential when they met their next enemy.
German general Erwin -- the desert fox.
Hitler was furious with a -- she forces after hearing about allied victory.
Three days after the -- he quickly occupied the rest of France.
From his headquarters in Berlin he vowed to push the allies out of North Africa.
And the German send.
Troops to Tunisia these new troops joined the panzer divisions already in -- under the command of general -- The desert fox live by his own -- -- -- the core of the motorized arm.
Everything turns out it's very important because -- basically.
That's the tempo of operations -- -- -- so we went to war with light tanks that weren't fit to oppose your -- text.
So when he piled on the -- 80000 fresh troops were sent them quite the German war machine in the desert.
What do these replacements was George -- into the second armored division.
-- a nineteen year old from appellation.
And we landed on Christmas Eve December 24.
-- -- -- -- On this Christmas nineteen book -- Our soldiers and then in impeachment mr.
Lewis and doesn't.
Got that together in the -- -- options -- on the pilgrims.
-- total federal some problems hundreds of thousands of miles from where.
Christmas night they had a German air raid on Harper's.
-- at the Luftwaffe to bomb allied targets.
Straight to Casablanca -- -- We set out there and hope that her what it was that it was -- -- series event of our very first.
For the allies struck back with the army -- When dashing figure -- we'll talk.
Confident aggressive -- -- but a series of daring raids and -- are these rates help because supply is safe for a summit between president Roosevelt and Churchill.
Roosevelt and Churchill converted Casablanca the history making conference was held in surroundings a picturesque romantic.
President and prime minister laid plans for grand strategy from 1943.
So the second album would they be vulnerable we would hold.
And will be escorting.
And telling -- we start.
John your buttons and clean up -- vehicles FDR became the first president ever -- in the office in the first visit after.
But now we'll -- It is -- where they divided the world.
And that would take the -- it would take -- Americans that they.
And -- soldiers from the second armored division we're guarding FDR the 34 infantry division moved east to take Tunisia.
There would be the first American soldiers to fight the German army.
We have a a range -- hills to the west of Tunisia.
A range of hills on the -- -- and Asia and the middle is that at desert area with us apartments and a lot of things and -- moral life because no booze no nothing you're.
Controversy you know exactly where you were -- you moved quite a distance.
What do we still have a lot of distance to -- Joseph Boyd not also moved east with a 34 infantry division.
He and -- stone arrived at a place called by -- act.
-- commanding officer -- Fast or.
Right out of ammunition -- we were run out of.
That -- counterattack that's correct.
I -- up irrigation ditch and but remains squad did you hear armour clothes -- you could hear them all over again.
It was a couple piper cubs -- -- -- come forward drop messages sent every man for themselves.
The battleground -- lost.
-- -- took the 34 infantry division completely by surprise.
And a good number of them became American prisoners of war.
You're staring down the barrel propelled him and Germany have the -- officer -- probably 4425.
People just as good English and anybody I heard -- life.
You gentlemen for -- who -- over.
You can go through your homeland now playing -- was a Prisoner of War -- -- of 45.
It distant or help make up their little before we get it.
Get that they have.
My dad passed would be the only setback for these combat -- soldiers the worst is still to come with 30000.
A place called the -- -- -- it's the gate.
Way central Tunisia and Algeria the past.
Is bracket and other sides by mountains about 5000 feet behind the substantial.
-- The -- is about a mile wide.
And it had been the path -- invasions.
Into and out of we should Tunisia.
For centuries we Americans were dug in deep there was still no match for the German answers.
Joseph tell me tell radio what you saw during the cancer and passed.
We will work on -- like very long we were brought up and we lost.
People in person -- that ballot but the main thing various.
We didn't have any.
Any support from -- -- like field hospitals that take care of our -- Basically they just outplayed the Americans think -- and the Americans extend their defensive line Germans -- move over and the momentum of the German tax.
Such that the Germans.
Under Ronald swept into the pass.
It was -- it was real bad.
That tree Fella called Al guitar -- American tankers -- their first victory against German fans.
-- -- By February 25 1943.
The fight for has -- pass was over.
Some called it a massacre.
Americans spent the next.
Month licking their wounds.
They had more than 6000 casualties.
It had units completely destroyed the 34 infantry -- pretty well.
In terms of yardage lost it was the greatest tradition in America and.
The Americans did a test -- pass from its.
Possession of -- It would be -- last big victory in North Africa.
At that point Romo ran out of steam -- seemed mentally as much as anything else he was exhausted.
We recognize it didn't have the strength of the fuel -- -- the ammunition to proceed after two years of fighting the desert fox tried to persuade him to abandon North Africa.
You know upset and angry and he called roll home on sick leave does -- was making his final -- General George Patten arrived in Tunisia and took center stage.
Commander of the American forces at the time was the major general and -- -- and -- -- clearly over his head.
He was relieved of command sent home.
George Patton was still in Morocco summoned by Eisenhower take over the American second -- But his first order of business was personal my grandfather's son -- -- John Waters was very severely wounded.
During the period of Kathryn -- and was missing in action he had been positioned.
Ill advisedly -- superiors.
Hill -- German forces -- Around -- will eventually -- Germans began to infiltrate you know working their way.
German swirl around fire.
From hearing the news early on my grandfather fear the worst.
Thought it was dead after hearing about John Waters disappearance of battles to go to the site.
We try to uses intuitive powers to sort of imagine what might have happened about two weeks after.
-- -- John Waters went missing they did receive word that he was alive although very seriously wounded.
And he would remain in German captivity until nineteen point five.
General Patton had an early adage about leadership and -- said leadership should depend on visible personality.
And this was really kind of his motto and putting himself together visually.
Two two faces and then he was impeccable dress he did not believe that.
An army that looked.
It's sort of you know without the heels could fight well.
Had about 70000 Americans hold you to that point news that.
It was a core that was dispirited just the -- And -- first job was to drive it in spirit the troops and he tried to put some discipline back to the -- British were wearing shorts and -- they shot -- pop mail issues we had the world would be.
-- Was general -- second core he had to where America in combat in combat.
You love is so you'd be looked like soldiers dressed like so you act like -- very very strict -- -- time.
This album on I got a fifteen dollar fine for not having my helmet on.
And you had to keep the oil that -- slick and shiny and if advisors soldiers mr.
Naturally I did.
-- methods of leadership did inspire its troops on March 23 1943.
-- the treeless rocky valley called -- guitar.
He told his commanders gentlemen tomorrow we attack if we're not victorious.
Let no man come back alive.
To court during -- fight it -- Qatar which is where the Americans first defeated.
Panzer division and in the flat out battle.
That we really want to set up for -- it first and divisions -- that again.
The Germans detectives first.
It was a surprise attack.
The Americans world.
Ready for -- this time unlike -- some battle lasted for several days.
Fifty German dancers ambushed the allies improve frightening thing to -- -- and this big massive tanks.
Townsend was headed for our division command post.
A detective Italian troops give up very quickly and that the Germans retreated.
And so -- -- over time it ended in the tenth panzer division being severely loopholes.
And they're retreating back across the desert.
With about half the tax laws as the soldiers said after they left the battlefield victory they had taken on finally Germany's best.
Like the hard -- American victory -- -- general George Patton finds himself embroiled in controversy.
On war story.
The German -- -- to the battle -- -- the card support for general Patton celebrated their hard fought victory.
Many said it was patents finest hour.
Others say it wasn't the plan that he executed.
Hold it broke apart.
General Lloyd -- ball -- -- just that we -- basically inherited the plan which resulted in the first clear cut.
American victory in Tunisia.
With the American if condition fighting.
But Ringo wasn't the leader -- old blood and guts and then and no one questioned patents ability -- -- soldiers to victory he's very very.
It was a good commander.
And a final push the allies launched operation strike.
A massive attack in the remaining German forces in Tunisia.
There have winds tore through this -- -- working toward dessert and we all that about the first week and me in Tunisia.
Fights his work in some of the toughest battles.
Outside of -- -- -- would dreams that commanding.
That was more -- and was -- here.
We called desert in North Africa the German war machine was minding to a halt.
So everything was cut off.
There are Arianna manpower -- -- supplies took a bunch of prisoners to just read it around 200 some would you do with the we put him in.
-- -- enclave who had a round of that particular weapons.
May thirteenth 1946.
Months after the women's an operation -- The streets of -- were filled with -- -- were soldiers and liberated civilians.
With the victory in North Africa came with a cost 70000.
From the war in the desert.
But the American army was forever transform.
With that's all.
Filter by section