Meeting the Fox
Allies was what the old marshal—although he could not come out and say so—wanted them to do.
Murphy shifted his efforts from Vichy to Algiers. He got invaluable assistance from a small group of Americans who were dispatched to North Africa to monitor food and other supplies being sent to the Algerian people and prevent it being siphoned off by the Germans. This monitoring activ- ity, giving the Americans daily access to the North African ports, was an important source of intelligence for the inva- sion planners.
On October 23, 1942, a team headed by Maj. Gen. Mark Clark came ashore from a British submarine about seventy- five miles west of Algiers and met Murphy and French Gen. René Mast, chief of staff of the French Colonial Army. Mast agreed to give orders to the forces under his control not to resist the invasion. But he was not told when or exactly where the landings would be made. Similar contact was made with two officers in Morocco, who also agreed not to resist, but all they were told was the approximate date of the landings.
The discussions went beyond efforts to minimize French resistance to the invasion to the question of how much help the French could provide against the Germans if they ac- tively joined with the Allies. Everyone agreed the French would require a massive infusion of new equipment. But Mast estimated they could quickly put into the field eight infantry divisions, two armored divisions, and a number of separate units—a significant contribution to the Allied war effort.
As another part of their strategy to gain French coopera- tion, the Allies arranged for Gen. Henri Giraud to be spir- ited out of France in the hope the French forces in Africa would rally behind him. Giraud was highly respected by the French armed forces. He had fought the Germans—and had been captured and escaped—in both wars. After his escape from the Germans earlier in 1942, he had been permitted to retire near Lyon, in southern France.
Unfortunately, these diplomatic preparations all fell short of guaranteeing a peaceful landing for the invasion force. Much as most French officers might admire Giraud, he was not part of the Vichy government and could not even pre- tend to speak for Pétain. If they had had their choice, the