9th Infantry Division In WWII – North-Africa
Algeria – French Morocco Campaign 8 – 16 November 1942
Images of Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa.
8 November 1942 – Safi – tanks attack
On the 8th of November, the 47th Infantry Regiment, then called the 47th Regimental Combat Team, landed at Safi, the port town in Western Morocco. As the men made their way into town they neared the area just south of the harbor where several army barracks were the main center of resistance. Company K and I were ordered to attack but were quickly pinned down by machine gun and rifle fire. French defenders in town counter-attacked them with three French FT Renault light tanks. Two of these were quickly knocked out with rifle grenades. The driver of the third tank was stunned by the explosions and action around him and drove his tank into a wall. The tanks were quickly seized by the Americans.
Captain Simpson of the 47th Regimental Combat Team’s 3rd Battalion witnessed the scene and it is described in the book Safi Adventure by Brigadier General Edwin H. Randle.
“The French Renault tanks came out of the Army Barracks. The gates opened wide and they came out. Fifteen miles is top speed for these old babies. We fired bazookas and hit them, but the bazooka shells failed to explode. By then they were gone, but not for long. Just going around the block, we were in position, ready for them with anti-tank rifle grenades“.
Two of the tanks were taken out by these rifle grenades, while a third tank tried to back out of the situation, but collided into a wall in the confusion of the action, and was taken out of action.
“Sergeant Jackson of K Company ran to one of the tanks, pulled the dead Frenchman out and got in the tank himself. He then turned the turret by hand and began firing the 37mm gun. I hollered “How much ammo have you got Sergeant?!” and got the reply that Jackson had enough to fire for a couple of hours“.
However, there was no need to fire all the ammo. A section of 81mm mortars began firing onto the army barracks and at around 15:30 the French defenders ran up a white flag. They claimed they had been trying to surrender since half past two, but the American fire prevented them from putting up the flagpole!
Here we can see a series of pictures of the attacking French Renault tanks. Several men of the 2nd Armored Division joined the 47t RCT men to admire the tanks. One of the tanks is has the number 73160 and is named “Le Champagne”, and the other tank we see is number 74553, named “La Lorraine”. The location these pictures were taken is on Rue Allal al Llan. and on the corner of Avenue Mohamed.
The shops at Ksar El Bahr
Here are two pictures taken in front of the shops at Ksar El Bahr (“The Castle at the sea”). The shops were demolished sometime in the 1970s to provide a better view of the ancient fortress in the background.