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Title: Meeting the Fox: The Allied Invasion of Africa, from

Operation Torch to Kasserine Pass to Victory in Tunisia Author: Orr Kelly ISBN: 0-471-41429-8

1 The Longest Reach

f modern visitors to the North Africa American Cemetery should ask why the United States, which had been at war with Nazi Germany for nearly a year, chose to make its first move against the enemy more than 1,400 miles from Berlin, in a part of Africa where, except for a few diplomatic person- nel, there weren’t any Germans, they would be echoing the very question America’s Joint Chiefs of Staff had at the time. I

The military leaders had a clear-cut and logical plan: They would use the British Isles as a gigantic staging base for a direct assault on Germany, with large-scale daylight bombing raids and preparations for a thrust across the En- glish Channel into France in 1943. Meanwhile, support in the form of bombers and fighters would be sent to help the British in their fight against Rommel’s Afrika Korps. U.S. troops would not otherwise be involved in Africa.

As part of that plan, the 34th Infantry Division, the last of the National Guard units to be called to federal service, was the first sent to Northern Ireland, in the late winter and early spring of 1942, to spend at least a year training for the cross-Channel attack. The 1st Armored Division and the 1st Infantry Division followed soon after. About the same time, the B-17 Flying Fortresses of the Eighth Air Force began what were billed as precision bombing attacks on German


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