I can give details about Morocco e.g. where there were sometime several Renault FT17 tanks included in the defense of several beaches. I am then only aware of several tanks (probably Renault R35 / Hotchkiss H35 or H39 tanks from the 1e RCA) facing M5 Stuart tanks. There were also several old armored cars.
Not in Morrocco this time, but there were also old Renault D1 tanks that faced US tanks IIRC ... but of course all these tanks were no match for the M4 Shermans. Nonetheless, the Renault D1 tanks saw then action agains the Axis troops in 1942-1943.
Here are elements I can bring about the Moroccan part of operation Torch but there is little about tank fighting.
FRENCH ORDER OF BATTLE - MOROCCO – 8th November 1942
GROUND FORCES : French forces in Morocco were organized into four divisions plus coastal defenses.
Division de Fez - General Salbert
- 4e Régiment de Tirailleurs Marocains (4e RTM), in Taza and Boured
- 5e Régiment de Tirailleurs Marocains (5e RTM), in Oujda and Guercif
- 11e Régiment de Tirailleurs Algériens (11e RTA), in Fez and Gafsaï
- 1 battalion of the 3e Régiment Etranger d'Infanterie (3e REI - Foreign Legion), in Fez and Ksar-el-Souk
- 1 battalion of the 6e Régiment de Tirailleurs Sénégalais (6e RTS), in Fez
- 1e Régiment Etranger de Cavalerie (1e REC - Foreign Legion), in Fez, Oujda and Guercif
- 63e Régiment d'Artillerie Africain (63e RAA)
Division de Meknès - General Dody
- 7e Régiment de Tirailleurs Marocains (7e RTM), in Meknès and Midelt
- 8e Régiment de Tirailleurs Marocains (8e RTM), in Meknès and Ouezzan
- 1 or 2 battalion(s) of the 3e REI - Foreign Legion), in Hel Hajeb, Meknès and Kénitra
- 3e Régiment de Spahis Marocains (3e RSM)
- 10e Groupe d'Escadrons Autonome Portés de Chasseurs d'Afrique (10e GACA - motorised battalion)
- 64e Régiment d'Artillerie Africain (64e RAA)
Division de Casablanca - General Béthouart
- 1e Régiment de Tirailleurs Marocains (1e RTM), in Port-Lyautey and Souk-el-Arba
- 6e Régiment de Tirailleurs Marocains (6e RTM), in Casablanca, Kasbah Tadla and Mazagan
- Régiment d'Infanterie Coloniale du Maroc (RICM), in Rabat, Casablanca and Mazagan
- 1 battalion of the 6e Régiment de Tirailleurs Sénégalais (6e RTS), in Casablanca
- 1e Régiment de Chasseurs d'Afrique (1e RCA) (about 22 Renault R35 and 22 Hotchkiss H35 / H39 tanks)
- part of the 3e Régiment de Spahis Marocains (3e RSM), in Rabat
- Régiment d'Artillerie Coloniale du Maroc (RACM)
Division de Marrakech - General Henry-Martin
- 2e Régiment de Tirailleurs Marocains (2e RTM), in Marrakech, Mogador and Agadir
- 2e Régiment Etranger d'Infanterie (2e REI - Foreign Legion), in Marrakech, Ouarzazat and Agadir
- 1 battalion of the 6e Régiment de Tirailleurs Sénégalais (6e RTS), in Marrakech
- 4e Régiment de Spahis Marocains (4e RSM), in Marrakech and Tiznit
- Régiment d'Artillerie Coloniale du Maroc (RACM)
Coastal defense batteries :
- Port-Lyautey area
Batterie Ponsot (Mehdia) : 2x 138mm Mle1923
- Fedala area
Batterie de Fedala : 3x 100mm Mle1897/1917, 1x twin 13.2mm AAMG
Batterie de Pont Blondin : 3x 138mm Mle1910, 1x single 13.2mm AAMG
Défense des Passes : 2x 75mm G
- Casablanca area
Batterie d'Oukacha : 4x 100mm Mle1897/1917, 2x twin 13.2mm AAMG
Batterie du poste d'entrée de rade : 2x 75mm G, 2x twin 13.2mm AAMG
Batterie d'El Hank : 4x 194mm Mle1902, 4x 138mm Mle1910, 4x 13.2mm AAMG
- Mazagan area
Batterie : 2x 75mm G
- Mogador area
Batterie : 2x 75mm G
- Safi area
Batterie de la Railleuse : 4x 130mm Mle1924
Batterie du Port : 2x 75 mm, 2x 13.2mm AAMG
- Agadir area
Batterie de Brougham : 4x 100mm Mle1897/1917
French air forces under General Lahoulle
Groupement de Chasse 25 (Cdt de Saint-Albin)
G.C. I/5 (19x Curtiss H-75) at Rabat et Salé
G.C. II/5 (20x Curtiss H-75 + 13x Dewoitine 520 arriving later) at Casablanca
1e flotille de chasse - Flotille 1F (LV Folliot) at Port Lyautey (25x Dewoitine 520 but only 21 aircrafts operational)
Groupement de Bombardement 11 (Colonel de Lahoulle)
G.B. I/22 (11x Lioré et Olivier 451) at Rabat et Salé
G.B. I/23 (13x Lioré et Olivier 451) at Marrakech
G.B. II/23 (13x Lioré et Olivier 451) at Meknès
G.B. I/32 (11x Douglas DB-7) at Casablanca
3e flotille de bombardement - Flotille 3F (LV Mathon) (12x Glenn-Martin 167F but only 9 aircrafts operational)
Esc. 2B at Port-Lyautey
Esc. 3B at Port-Lyautey
+ 2x Glenn-Martin 167F in Agadir
G.R. I/22 (13x Lioré et Olivier 451) at Rabat et Salé
G.R. I/52 (13x Potez 63.11) at Marrakech
G.T. I/15 (18x Potez 29, 4x Farman 222.2, 1x Farman 222.3, 1x Farman 224) at Rabat et Salé
G.T. III/15 (1x Amiot 143, 1x Lioré et Olivier 451) at Oujda
1x battleship under construction : "Jean-Bart"
1x light cruiser : "Primauguet"
2x counter-torpedo boats : "Milan" and "Albatros"
7x torpedo boats : "Fougueux", "Frondeur", "L'Alcyon", "Brestois", "Boulonnais", "Tempête" and "Simoun"
3x avisos : "La Grandière", "La Gracieuse" and "Commandant Delage"
5x patrol boats : "Chasseur II", Victoria", "Algéroise", "Sablaise", "Servannaise"
11x mine sweepers
11x submarines : "Sidi-Ferruch", "Le Tonnant", "Le Conquérant", "Orphée", "Méduse", "Oréade", "Psyché", "La Sybille", "Amazone", "Antiope" and "Amphitrite".
No real match for the numerous destroyers, aircraft-carriers, cruisers and battleships of the US/UK fleet.
THE US/UK INVASION FORCE FOR OPERATION TORCH CONSISTED OF :
- Escort Force H provided by the Royal Navy : 27+ ships
2 aircraft carriers
+ submarine screen
- The Center Task Force, destination Oran in Algeria :
Commanders : Admiral Troubridge (Royal Navy) and General Fredendall (US Army)
37 ships + transport ships
About 39,000 soldiers for the landing
- The Eastern Task Force, destination Algiers in Algeria :
Commanders : Admiral Burrough (Royal Navy) General Ryder
34 ships + transport ships
23,000 British soldiers + 10,000 US soldiers for the landing
- And since we are here interested in Morocco, the Western Task Force (TF34), destination Fedhala, Mehdia and Safi for the landings.
The objectives are to take Safi (an important port on the Atlantic), Casablanca (and its port) and Port-Lyautey (and its airbases).
Commanders : Admiral Hewitt (US Navy) and General Patton (US Army)
77 ships + 29 transport ships
35,000 US soldiers
250 tanks (55 are M4 Shermans whose destination is Safi, the other are mainly M5 Stuarts)
28x Grumman Avenger
36x Douglas SBD Dauntless
108x F4F-4 Wildcat
76x P-40 destined to be ground based in Port Lyautey
The US provided 172 planes (the P40 are only transported) and the Royal Navy provided :
35x Martlet IV
51x Seafire IIc
39x Sea Hurricane IIc
total : 345 US/UK planes in the area.
TF34 is divided into :
- Northern landing group (9,000 men) : landing in Mehdia, objective Port Lyautey
- Center landing group (19,000 men) : landing in Fedhala, objective Casablanca and its harbor
- Southern landing group (6500 men) : landing in Safi harbor, next to Marrakech
Total superiority of the US/UK forces in both sea and air.
On the ground, the French forces in November 1942 have still the same equipments than in 1939-1940 and about 120,000 men in the whole North Africa.
To this OOB can be added 6 supply convoys with 84 transport ships and 42 escort ships sailingfrom Britain to Gibraltar between 14th October and 10th November :
KMS 1 (slow) : 47 transports, 18 escorts
KMF 1 (fast) : 39 transports, 12 escorts
KMS 2 : 57 transports, 14 escorts
KMF 2 : 18 transports; 8 escorts
NOTES ABOUT THE BATTLES IN MOROCCO :
1) Landing in Fedhala (next to Casablanca) and Cherqui
Allies: 19,000 men and 1,701 vehicles.
The French beaches are defended by :
- 3x 100mm
- 2x 75mm
- 4x 138mm
- the 102nd costal infantry company
- 3 Renault FT17 tanks- about 100 Moroccan tirailleurs
A real tiny force in face of the whole fleet support and the men landing there.
On the evening of 7th November, the General Béthouart sent a liaison officer to give orders not to resist to the landings (behind the military stuff there were intricate political discussions and they wanted to join the allies) but only the infantry was informed, not the sailors in the costal batteries.
A French convoy at sea met TF34 and was captured but could warn the French HQ.
A French searchlight spotted a US destroyer which opened fire and destroyed it.
At 7h13 the French opened fire.
The CL-40 Brooklyn and 4 destroyers attacked the 138mm guns. A huge number of shells were fired on them but they achieved only 2 hits on the French position. 1x 138mm gun and the observation post were destroyed.
The DD-603 Murphy was hit and forced to retreat.
At 9h30 the French battery was captured by an infantry assault.
The 100mm battery damaged the destroyer but it was hardly bombarded by the 203mm guns of the CA-31 Augusta. This battery is also assaulted by the US infantry but they lost about 100 KIA in front of it. The battery surrendered at 14h00 after having scuttled its guns. Only 15 French soldiers were still alive.
A small auxiliary ship, the "Abbé Desgranges" still resisted with only a few LMGs and 5 revolvers; the crew resisted until the ship sank. During the operation 150 landing ships (LCMs) out of 347 were destroyed by the French defenses.
In front of Casablanca there was a small naval battle, small because the French fleet is there really small compared to the US/UK combat fleet in the area.
From the ground the El Hank battery supported the naval battle, as did the "Jean-Bart" battleship which is immobilized in the harbor - the ship is only under construction - but with one operational turret of 4x380mm guns. A half-completed ship fighting an armada! But, the really good part of the story is after the working turret was jammed by a hit and the French repaired it, but left it in train to simulate that the damage was permanent. That was a great trick, it sure surprised a lot of people on the Massachusetts.
First there was an artillery duel between the "Jean-Bart" + El Hank and the
1 light cruiser, a few torpedo and counter-torpedo boats as well as several subs tried to sail out from the harbor to attack the US/UK fleet.
UK/US losses after the naval battle :
- 5x ships damaged (including the Admiral ship)
- 1x transport ship sunk
- 1x SBD Dauntless destroyed
French losses after the naval battle :
- 6x torpedo or counter-torpedo boats sunk
- 4x submarines sunk
- 4x ships damaged
- 490 KIA, 969 WIA
2) Landing at Mehdia, objective is Port Lyautey
The Admiral Michelier and the staff of General Noguès clearly cancelled the orders of Béthouart who told not to fight. 3 Renault FT17 tanks + infantry counter-attacked and pulled the US troops back on the shores. The US General Truscott requisitioned the landing boats crews to fight as infantry men. Finally after huge naval artillery support, the 138mm battery was captured, but after 48 hours of fighting the US beachhead is still very thin and unsecured.
3) Landing at Safi (200 km South of Casablanca)
2 ships entering the harbor with commandos at night captured the harbor installation and the 2nd Armored Division was able to disembark its 55 M4 Shermans in Safi. The other beaches allowed only the landing of M5 Stuart light tanks.
AERIAL BATTLE OVER MOROCCO :
The USN air fleet wanted to destroy the French planes based in Morocco. As indicated in the previous post, the French air force is small compared to the 172 US planes (not counting all the UK planes) and except the Dewoitine D-520 only composed of Curtiss H-75 fighters. The 108 USN Wildcats will have to face 86 French fighters but only 40 were rather modern. Despite the surprise and the fact that most of the aircrafts were at ground when then air raids were launched, the French air force reacted.
Over Casablanca the Wildcats of the VF-41 encountered the old Curtiss H-75 of the GC II/5. 4x Wildcats, 3x Dauntless and 7x H-75 were shot down. 5x bombers of the GB I/32 and the whole GB I/33 were destroyed on the ground.
In Port Lyautey about 10 D-520s and 6 bombers are destroyed on the ground. At least 2 Wildcats are destroyed by a D-520 but it was also hit and the pilot had to crash its plane and to evacuate it.
During 8th November morning French fighters strafed the landing beaches at Fedhala and several landing boats were destroyed. At 12h30 a few French bombers attacked the beachheads without losses.
On 9th November, 5x H-75s from GC II/5 strafed again the beaches. Later a bigger attack involving 10x bombers from GB II/23, 3x bombers from GB I/32 escorted by 15x H-75 from GC I/5 was launched. Several transport and landing boats were destroyed but no really important ship is hit. The Wildcats from VF-9 intercepted the French aircraft, the bombers went back safely but 4x H-75 were destroyed, as well as 1x Wildcat.
At 14h00 an important US raid surprised on ground 4x DB-7s, 5x H-75s and 6x D-520s. The small French air force in Morocco was then finally neutralized.
At Safi, the US planes were provided by the ACV-29 Santee whose crews were very green. From 31 aircrafts, 21 lost themselves and were forced to emergency landings on the ground.
Finally, on 11th November, the US had lost 44 planes from 172 available at the beginning :
The "Jean-Bart" battleship is damaged but will be repaired and will have a long post WW2 career.
After the landings on 8th November 1942, the situation on 9th November is still tricky, especially for the Mehdia beachhead which is in danger. This day is crucial both on the military level and on the political level because there are discussions between Morocco and the Vichy HQ in France (Béthouart, Darlan, Weygand, Auphan) as well as discussions between Darlan and the US HQ. Before Operation Torch all the operations were accepted by General Giraud (Free French) but the US wanted to get rid of the Free French of General De Gaulle and negotiated with the Vichy forces alone.
Darlan has to look at the same time at the situation in North Africa and at the situation in France, where the Vichy government fears an invasion of the Free Zone by the Germans if the resistance to the US/UK forces is not apparent enough.
Darlan is negotiating with the US while Pétain is convincing the Germans that the French forces in North Africa do everything to resist to the landing forces.
During 9th November there are several small fights while the US are trying to secure and increase their beachheads and while the M4 Shermans of the 2nd AD are moving from Safi towards Casablanca. Sometimes the French are defeated and sometimes not. An armored car group for example makes US POWs at two times and captures also 4 M5 Stuart tanks.
The French are organizing the defenses and roadblocks around Casablanca :
* East :
- III/6e RTS on the Rabat-Casablanca road, next to Aïn Sebaa
- II/6e RTM on the road 106
- 4x 90mm AA guns in Aïn Sebaa firing in AT role
- reinforcement of Aïn Sebaa by 4 platoons of surviving sailors (each man issued with a carbine, each squad with 1 LMG, 1 MMG and 10 grenades).
* South : III/6e RTM on the Marrakech road
* South-West : II/RICM
* West, near El Hank : I/6e RTM and 4x 90 AA guns firing in AT role
On 9th November the positions are attacked by SBD Dauntless attack planes without significant results.
The US troops who landed at Mehdia are in a difficult position and have to face many French counter-attacks which reach the beaches. The 1st Bn, 60th Infantry Rgt supported by M5 Stuart tanks is facing the III/1e RTM supported by few Renault R35 / Hotchkiss H35 tanks. 4 M5 Stuarts and 2 R35/H35s are destroyed, but the US troops are saved by the intervention of the USN air fleet which blocks the French attack.
4 times the US troops take Mehdia and 4 times they are pulled back.
On 11th November the French infantry counter-attacks and takes back the 138mm battery lost on 8th November, the Lighthouse and part of the beach but finally thanks to an important tank offensive the US are able to capture Mehdia and Port Lyautey. At 11h30 there are still several French pockets but the first P-40s are landing on the captured airbase. In Mehdia there were about 89 US and 133 French KIA.
AÏN SEBAA BATTLE (east of Casablanca) :
On 10th November at dawn, the US infantry supported by M5 Stuarts attack the II/6e RTS and the sailors in Aïn Sebaa. The French 90mm AA guns causes many KIA by firing on US mortar positions which have to be changed frequently but the French guns are neutralized by heavy naval artillery fire. At 11h00 the French are forced to leave Aïn Sebaa and to move to the main resistance line. Two sailors platoons have sustained 50% losses and encircled are forced to surrender. The other units manage to retreat properly.
2 French avisos, the "Commandant Delage" and the "Gracieuse" block the US offensive with their 100mm guns but are forced to flee in front of the cruiser "Augusta" and the destroyers "Edison", "Boyle", "Tillman" and "Rowan". The US attack is stopped here, they are waiting for the M4 Sherman tanks who landed in Safi.
The 8th November 1942 landings at Fedhala, Mehedia and Safi were not precisely an US Army success and the day had to be saved by the excellent US Navy fire. The US troops were unable to arrive, after 3 days of fighting, in front of Casablanca (not to mention the same idea to occupy that town) and were allowed to enter there only on 12th November after the French Admiral Darlan had signed a truce with General Clark which led him to power in French North Africa. The French orders during the cease-fire were to go back to the barracks, to preserve the integrity of all the facilities, equipments and armaments and to exchange the POWs.
The consequences of operation Torch for the French are :
- invasion of the Free Zone by the Germans
- scuttling of the high sea fleet based in Toulon to prevent its capture by the Germans (there were even skirmished between the French sailors and the Germans from the 7.PzD in Toulon)
- but also the beginning of a new mobilization of the whole French forces in North Africa on the allied (US, UK and Free French) side. After that, in 1943 there is no distinction anymore between Free French and Vichy French, there is only a French Army. The bulk of the Army of Africa will constitute the 1st French Army that will fight in Italy and land in Southern France during operation Anvil/Dragoon.