Staff Sergeant Allen D. Cloud
– Company M, 3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment –
Allen was born on the 2nd of June, 1914. On January 10th, 1941, Allen entered the U.S. Army in Trenton, New Jersey at the age of 26. According to Allen he was “selected” by Selective Service. He was then sent to Fort Dix, New Jersey as a Private First Class. 10 days later Allen was transferred to Fort Bragg, North Carolina for infantry training and took part in the “Carolina Maneuvers”.
In February / March 1942 he completed NCO school and had furlough visits to Delaware
when not on guard duty. A month later he met Father Tim Andrysiak, chaplain with I, K, L and M Companies of 3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment. Father Tim began his overseas duty in November 1942 with the invasion of North Africa and in the 1943 invasion of Sicily. He remained with the troops through many battles and they respected him for this. Many wrote home about him, including Allen.
After ten days as machine gun instructor at Camp Bradford, Virginia, Corporal Cloud “shipped out” with the 9th Infantry Division across the Atlantic on the Susan B. Anthony (4-tier bunks); part of a 100 ship convoy in nine column as part of Operation Goalpost, the US landing of Major General George S. Patton’s Western Task Force at Mehdia on the Atlantic coast of Morocco in ‘Operation Torch’ on 8 November 1943.
Operation Torch was the three-pronged amphibious invasion of Morocco and Algeria. Patton’s force made three separate landings—all within an hour of each other and in total darkness—to guarantee an open supply line across the Atlantic. One force would land near the port of Safi, one hundred forty miles southwest of Casablanca. The second landing (27 ships with 9000 men), Operation Goalpost, was commanded by Major General Lucian Truscott Jr. and had the mission of seizing the strategic Port Lyautey (now Kenitra), sixty miles northeast of Casablanca, and the Citadel fort (Kasbah) at Mehdia. These troops included the 9th Infantry. The third force, which Patton himself commanded, would land at Fedala, a small port eighteen miles northeast of Casablanca
M Company (in Lt. Col. John J. Toffey’s 3rd Battalion), part of Operation Goalpost, landed at Port Lyautey, Morocco, and saw its first combat on this day, for which they would receive the Combat Infantry Badge. The 3rd Battalion took heavy artillery fire on the night of November 9. M Company came under both artillery and machine gun fire. They dug foxholes with helmets and knives since they had no entrenching tools. The main objectives were protecting airfields at Port-Lyautey and at Sale, 25 miles south, near Rabat. To reach them the troops would first have to take the coastal village of Mehdia and the town of Port-Lyautey five miles inland. The troops’ landing had gunfire support from the USS Texas. The fighting ended on November 10, 1942. The three-day fight for Mehdia and Port Lyautey had cost 79 American lives, with 250 men wounded. The unit spent the next few months in the area living in tents and working with the local population, as well as doing border guard duty with Spanish Morocco to the North.
The 60th Infantry Regiment spearheaded the November 1942, invasion of French Morocco at Port Lyautey in Operation Torch, winning the arrowhead assault landing device in an action which laid the basis for its nickname ‘Scouts Out’. At the time of the invasion, there was great confusion among the Navy coxswains about the landing sites. They either placed their units in the wrong sector, or put them on the beaches very late. The 60th, for example, landed at 05:30, 40 minutes late, giving the defending Vichy French time to organize. The 1st Battalion landed 2,800 yards north of their assigned beach, and were engaged by French light tanks once ashore. The 2nd and 3rd Battalions were strafed by French planes. Company E, 2nd Battalion, was stopped completely at a strongpoint, the Port Lyautey lighthouse. The 2nd Battalion’s eventual objective was to take an ancient fortress, the Kasba. Once the landing points were completely secured, engagements were fought between small units and opposing batteries. The regiment culminated its successful North African campaigns with a defense on 18 April 1943 (Easter Sunday) against a massive German attack, and earned a Presidential Unit Citation. The Germans hit the “Go Devils” from all four sides with 2 full battalions of infantry supported by artillery. After a four hours attack that failed, the Germans threw in the towel, leaving 116 dead, 48 wounded, and many prisoners in American hands.”
By the end of January, 1943, the German 21st Panzer Division, under Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, had grown to more than 100,000 in Tunisia. To liberate Tunisia, the Allies conducted a different kind of campaign. Axis air power in Sicily made an amphibious assault too risky. The Allied troops must advance overland—into terrain much different than what they had found in Morocco and Algeria.
After defeats against Germany’s General Field Marshall Rommel, Allied forces had retreated to the two passes on the western arm of the mountains into Algeria, at Sbiba and Kasserine. The 9th infantry began moving from Oran, Algeria, to Kasserine, Tunisia on a 100-hour 900-mile forced march on slippery, winding roads. The ground in Kasserine Pass was wet and spongy from heavy rainfall. On February 19, 1943, Rommel launched what would become the Battle of Kasserine Pass. After two days of rolling over the U.S. defenders, the Afrika Korps had suffered few casualties, while the U.S. forces lost 6000 men and two-thirds of their tanks. The defeat of U.S. forces at Kasserine Pass by Rommel’s Afrika Korps in February underlined the general and specific weaknesses of U.S. troops and leaders.
Command of the new U.S. II Corps in Tunisia (six divisions, including the 9th) passed to George Patton, with Omar Bradley as assistant Corps Commander. Patton pushed his men to fight and dress like the best soldiers in the world—including neckties in the heat of North Africa. But heavy rains stopped his tanks and trucks for two days.
Pattton planned a two-pronged attack to the sea- The 9th Infantry Division (under Major General Manton S. Eddy) would makes its first attack as a unit on the south, while the 1st advanced on the north. The 9th would be making its first attack at night, a difficult tactic in the easiest terrain and in the rocky hills east of El Guettar nearly impossible for a unit with only five months’ experience. The 60th attacked the Station de Sened and the Maknassey Pass. The town of Maknassy was surrounded on three sides by mountains firmly held by Germans. The plain in between offered scant cover for the Allies.
March 29, 1943
During this time, the principal handicap was the almost complete lack of adequate maps. When the attack by the 9th Division was launched before dawn on the morning of March 28, three battalions of the 9th soon became lost, and two remained out of touch for 36 hours. For the next 11 days a bitter battle was waged for hills 290, 369, and 772. In nine days, the 9th Division alone lost 1812 killed, including 5 battalion commanders, 872 wounded, and 820 missing or ill. Nearly everyone in M Company had severe dysentery.
“At dawn on March 29 the battle was resumed. The Germans began shelling. One machine gun section captured eight German prisoners and turned them over to battalion. Two of the companies machine guns were knocked out by enemy artillery fire. The casualties began to climb. . . No ground was gained that day.” (The GI’s War).
Staff Sergeant Allen Cloud was awarded a Bronze Star for “heroism in ground combat” in Tunisia on March 29, 1943; by 2/4/44 executive order of President Roosevelt; actually not given until 2/14/51.
He also received a “Certificate of Commendation” signed by Major General Manton S. Eddy for “outstanding and especially meritorious service.” The citation stated that “During the engagement at Maknassy, Tunisia, Sergeant Cloud kept his section in position to cover patrols with his rifle company, despite intense artillery fire. He concluded his mission successfully. Such courage and devotion to duty are highly commendable.”
On June 2nd, 1943, Allen Cloud received his Purple Heart letter (on his birthday) for being wounded in action at Maknassy. He had been in Africa for 8 months. The victory in Tunisia came at a heavy cost: 70,000 Allied casualties. The US Army lost 2715 dead, 8978 wounded and 628 missing.