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18 November 1942
War in the Air
Eighth Air Force Heavy Bomber Mission No. 21: 65 aircraft dispatched to attack U-boat base at La Pallice, and 26 on a diversionary sweep. 19 aircraft attack La Pallice, 13 attack Lorient and 19 attack the U-boat base at St. Naizaire. One aircraft lost.
British 8th Army enters Cyrene
1942 — Nov 18, Sodium fluoride poisoning, patients/staff, OR State Hosp., Salem, OR– 47
Clements. “467 Poisoned at Oregon State Hospital November 18, 1942.” Salem Online History.
Greenberg, Michael I. Disasters: Terrorist, Natural and Man-Made. 2006, p. 35.
UP. “Oregon Hospital Poisoning Kills 47.” Stanford Daily, CA, 11-20-1942, p. 12.
Nov 19: “Salem, Ore., Nov. 19.–(AP)–Forty-four insane inmates of Oregon State Hospital have died from an unidentified poison — possibly contained in frozen eggs — and a corps of physicians struggled today to save the lives of more than 400 other men and women.
“The poison struck swiftly, and within 15 minutes after dinner last night, at which the eggs were served scrambled, the victims began complaining of violent cramps. Within an hour the poison had caused the first death. By 10 p.m., five hours after the meal, 10 had died. By midnight, the toll had reached 32. Early today the total was reported to have reached 44.
“Dr. J. C. Evans, hospital superintendent, said: ‘They had nausea, vomiting blood and showed evidence of an acute toxic condition. Respiratory paralysis and violent cramps in the legs preceded death. Those who were not strong passed out immediately and died. Doctor Evans expressed the belief that the eggs, obtained from the Federal Surplus Commodities Corporation, contained some poison, or were toxic because of some chemical reaction. L. E. Barrick, Marion County coroner, called for an immediate investigation.
“All the deaths, 38 men and six women, occurred in four wards. Inmates of a fifth were ill, Doctor Evans said, but an attendant there tasted the eggs before they were served and allowed only a small amount to be eaten….
“Dr. Evans told the Board [of Control] that he was much worried that if some patient had poisoned the food, there might be future attempts at poisoning. “Some patients who have furlough privileges could have slipped some poison into the food,’ Dr. Evans said. “On the other hand, since many such eggs are shipped to the Army, there is the possibility that some saboteur poisoned a can. Two employes who tasted the eggs said they tasted salty, and that tends to confirm the theory that poison was placed in the food. But another employee said they tasted soapy, so I don’t know what th think.’
“The Agriculture Department at Washington, D.C., today ordered an immediate investigation into the handling of eggs believed responsible for the deaths….” (Associated Press. “Food Poison Kills 44 in Salem, Ore.” Oakland Tribune, CA, 11-19-1942, p. 1.)
Nov 19: “Chicago, Nov. 19.–(U.P.) — The poisoning which affected 460 patients at the Oregon State Hospital for the Insane took effect too quickly for the eggs to have been the cause, Arthur Doell, president of the National Egg Products, Inc., said today. ‘If eggs were bad enough to cause such violent poisoning, no one would ever have cooked them,’ Doell said. He remarked that it was ‘rather abnormal’ to hold frozen eggs in storage for six months, as the Salem Hospital had done before serving a scrambled egg dinner last night, which resulted in at least 44 deaths. Frozen eggs, he explained, must be kept at temperatures from five to 25 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. At five to 10 degrees above eggs soften and spoil. ‘The Oregon tragedy sounds like chemical poisoning to me,’ Doell said.” (United Press. “Eggs Not to Blame, Produce Head Says.” Oakland Tribune, CA, 11-19-1942, p. 1.)
Nov 19: “Salem, Ore., Nov. 19 (U.P.)–The poison introduced into scrambled eggs served at a fatal dinner last night at the Oregon State Mental Hospital, swiftly claiming at least 47 lives and leaving 400 patients violently ill, was sodium fluoride, common cockroach poison, pathologists reported tonight. The sodium fluoride, which never before in the annals of medical science had brought such widespread destruction, was not contained in the original shipment of frozen eggs, from which the dinner was prepared, Dr. Frank Menne, University of Oregon pathologist, said.” (United Press. “Oregon Hospital Poisoning Kills 47.” The Stanford Daily, 11-20-1942, p. 12.)
Nov 21: “Salem, Ore., Nov. 21 (AP)–A few inmates of the Oregon state hospital for the insane remained in critical condition today from poisoning that killed 47 others. The poisoning was traced to roach exterminating powder, which somehow became mixed with scrambled eggs… The insecticide, containing lethal sodium fluoride, was stored in a cellar room. The insecticide resembles powdered milk, which is used in scrambling eggs at the hospital. The milk is stored in another cellar room. Police were investigating possibilities that: (1) the poison was put in the food in a deliberate murder attempt, perhaps by an inmate (2) it was mixed in accidentally in a manner not yet determined.” (AP. “400 still ill of Poisoning.” Ogden Standard Examiner, UT, 11-21-1942, p. 1.)
Nov 21: “Salem, Ore., Nov 21.–(AP)–The mystery of the poisoned scrambled eggs in the Oregon state hospital which killed 47 patients was virtually cleared up tonight. Dr. John C. Evans, hospital superintendent, said A. B. McKillop, assistant cook in the institution, admitted that instead of bringing powdered milk from a storeroom himself to put into the eggs, because of the rush of work he had sent a trusted patient, giving him his keys, and that the patient evidently entered the wrong store-room, getting the roach poison….” (AP. “Oregon Poison Egg Mystery is Solved.” Joplin Globe, MO, 11-22-1942, p. 1.)
Associated Press. “400 still ill of Poisoning.” Ogden Standard Examiner, UT, 11-21-1942, p. 1. Accessed 11-1-2017 at: https://newspaperarchive.com/ogden-standard-examiner-nov-21-1942-p-1/
Associated Press. “Food Poison Kills 44 in Salem, Ore.” Oakland Tribune, CA, 11-19-1942, p. 1. Accessed 11-1-2017 at: https://newspaperarchive.com/oakland-tribune-nov-19-1942-p-2/
Associated Press. “Oregon Poison Egg Mystery is Solved.” Joplin Globe, MO, 11-22-1942, p. 1. Accessed 11-1-2017 at: https://newspaperarchive.com/joplin-globe-nov-22-1942-p-1/
Clements, Kathleen Carlson. “467 Poisoned at Oregon State Hospital November 18, 1942.” Salem Online History. Accessed 11-1-2017 at: http://www.salemhistory.net/brief_history/state_hospital_poisoning.htm
Greenberg, Michael I. Disasters: Terrorist, Natural and Man-Made. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2006.
United Press. “Eggs Not to Blame, Produce Head Says.” Oakland Tribune, CA, 11-19-1942, p. 1. Accessed 11-1-2017 at: https://newspaperarchive.com/oakland-tribune-nov-19-1942-p-2/
United Press. “Oregon Hospital Poisoning Kills 47.” Stanford Daily, CA, 11-20-1942, p. 12. Accessed 11-1-2017 at: https://newspaperarchive.com/stanford-daily-nov-20-1942-p-12/
 Cites: Ferrer A., Cabral R. Recent Epidemics of poisoning by pesticides. Toxicology Letters, 82-83, pp. 55-63.
 Clements notes that “Five grams–the size of an aspirin–would have been fatal…”
 Clements notes that “Despite McKillops’s insistence that O’Hare [another cook] bore not responsibility for the poisoning, and over the objections of the State Police…District Attorney M. B. Hayden ordered both cooks arrested. A grand jury declined to indict them the patient…was never charged….”
Born This Day In History 18th November
Celebrating Birthday's Today
Celebrating Birthday's Today
Born: 18th November 1923 East Derry, New Hampshire
Died: 21st July 1998 Monterey, California
Known For : Alan Shepard is best known as the First American In Space on 5th May 1961 23 days after the first man in space Yuri Gagarin of the Soviet Union . On 31st January 1971 he once again became the center of attention during the Apollo 14 mission when he lived every golfers dream using a makeshift six-iron to strike golf balls from the moons surface which travelled miles and miles. For his services to the Space Program he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor (Space).
Born: 18th November 1942 Hartford, Connecticut
Known For : American Actress who won Golden Globe ( Dynasty 1982) and an Emmy nominated American actress, she has been on many well know TV shows including The Big Valley 1965-1969 , Dynasty playing Krystle Carrington 1981-1988. The cat fight between Linda Evans ( Krystle Carrington ) and Joan Collins ( Alexis Carrington ) is a classic in TV history.
Sapulpa Herald (Sapulpa, Okla.), Vol. 28, No. 67, Ed. 1 Wednesday, November 18, 1942
Daily newspaper from Sapulpa, Oklahoma that includes local, state, and national news along with advertising.
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- Main Title: Sapulpa Herald (Sapulpa, Okla.), Vol. 28, No. 67, Ed. 1 Wednesday, November 18, 1942
- Serial Title:Sapulpa Herald
Daily newspaper from Sapulpa, Oklahoma that includes local, state, and national news along with advertising.
six pages : ill. page 22 x 16 in.
Digitized from 35 mm. microfilm.
Published daily except Sunday.
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- Volume: 28
- Issue: 67
- Edition: 1
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The Sapulpa Herald was founded on September 14, 1914, by John W. Young, previously the business manager of the Sapulpa Evening Democrat, and O. S. Todd. The word “daily” was dropped from the title in 2017, and in 2019 Wednesday and a weekend edition were published.
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(1) Anthony Eden, letter to General Archibald Wavell (12th June, 1940)
The uncomfortable truth, however, remains that our Air Force in Egypt and in the Sudan is even at present heavily outnumbered. You will recall how great, perhaps decisive, was the part played by the German Air Force against the French Army in May. Proportionately, aircraft will, I believe, prove even more important in fighting in the Desert in Africa. Dive-bombing may be an unpleasant experience for troops fighting in comparatively enclosed country it must be still more difficult to endure where cover or concealment is so much harder to contrive.
This letter is, therefore, a plea to you to consider whether, despite the very heavy calls upon you for the Battle of Britain, it might not be possible for you to spare some further reinforcements for the Middle East.
(2) Winston Churchill invited Claude Auchinleck to London after he had been appointed commander in chief of the forces in the Middle East in July 1941.
Auchinleck spent a long weekend with me at Chequers. As we got to know better this distinguished officer, upon whose qualities our fortunes were now so largely to depend, and as he became acquainted with the high circle of the British war machine and saw how easily and smoothly it worked, mutual confidence grew. On the other hand, we could not induce him to depart from his resolve to have a prolonged delay in order to prepare a set-piece offensive on November 1. This would be called "Crusader", and would be the largest operation we had yet launched.
(3) Claude Auchinleck, dispatch to Winston Churchill on Operation Crusader (24th November, 1941)
Since the Panzer divisions now seemed to be committed to battle and were supported to be losing a considerable number of tanks, General Cunningham allowed the signal to be given for the Torbruk sorties to begin and the XIIIth Corps to start operations. On November 21 however our difficulties began. The enemy, as was to be expected, reacted at once to the threat to Sidi Rezegh, and his armoured divisions evaded the 4th and 22nd Armoured Brigades. The whole of the enemy armour then combined to drive us from the vital area and to prevent help reaching the Support Group and the 7th Armoured Brigade, which were isolated there. Neither of these formations was designed to carry out a prolonged defence, and it is greatly to their credit that they managed to do so, unaided, throughout the 21st.
Next day all three armoured brigades joined in the defence of the area. But our tanks and anti-tank guns were no match for the German, although they were fought with great gallantry, and on the evening of November 22 the XXXth Corps was compelled to retire, having lost two-thirds of the tanks and leaving the garrison of Tobruk with a huge salient to defend.
The enemy rounded off his success in spectacular fashion. In a night attack he surprised and completely disorganized the 4th Armoured Brigade, whose hundred tanks represented two-thirds of our remaining armoured strength. On the 23rd he practically annihilated the 5th South African Infantry Brigade, one of the only two infantry brigades General Norrie had under command - there was no transport for any more - and then on the 24th with his armoured divisions he made a powerful counter-stroke to the frontier.
(4) Statement issued by the British Army in Cairo (11th December, 1941)
Throughout the day our mobile forces continued successfully to attack the enemy, whose general trend of movement in north-west. A number of engagements took place, but owing to the wide area covered and the the difficulties of communication detailed reports have not been received.
Enemy troops and transport sheltering behind defences immediately west of El Adem were attacked by British armoured units, while farther to the west British and South African mobile columns pressed the enemy back all day in a north-westerly direction.
Small pockets of enemy infantry and armoured cars left in the area north of Bir Hacheim are being dealt with.
In the late afternoon our armoured forces attacked and drove off a number of German tanks which were endeavouring to interfere with operations being carried out west of El Adem by Sikhs, Punjabis, and the Royal Sussex Regiment.
Some miles south-west of Acroma British armoured units shelled a concentration of enemy motor transport, burning some and damaging others.
At Tobruk itself, Polish units, maintaining pressure on the enemy, captured two posts on the western defences. Enemy air action against Tobruk yesterday was on a somewhat increased scale, but ineffective.
Further east South African troops continued to clear up the area north of the Trigh Capuzzo, where a few enemy stragglers are still being captured. New Zealanders are also engaged in mopping-up operations in the area immediately east of Tobruk.
Supporting ground forces, our air forces carried out continual sweeps over the whole area of operations. Enemy concentrations and motor transport were attacked and near Acroma, in particular, a number were damaged and set on fire. Ground troops shot down one German Me. 110.
(5) The Manchester Guardian (13th December, 1941)
Bad weather in the desert is making any clear picture of the operations difficult to obtain. For two days heavy sandstorms have blown incessantly, but in this thick, greyish pall which overhangs everything the British advance continues.
Under continual pressure Rommel's men are withdrawing quickly westwards. Our advance is three-pronged. New Zealanders from Tobruk have struck rapidly along the coast and have now reached the eastern outskirts of Gazala, while Indian and British troops have pushed up from the south-east and have reached the other side of Gazala. On the southern flank our columns continue their slow but steady advance, mopping up enemy positions as they go. Finally, hard pressure on the central sector has not been lifted since the attack opened last week. Should the northern and southern prongs advance more rapidly than the enemy withdraws and eventually meet the encircling movement will be complete.
Because we have succeeded in pushing on our advance and there are not any particular reports of enemy opposition it should not be imagined that the enemy is not fighting back strongly. Rommel is still full of fight, but he clearly does not think the present conditions favourable. While withdrawing his troops he is putting up strong resistance and every mile of ground we take has to be fought for.
(6) Anthony Eden, diary (1942)
7th June: Winston rang up twice in morning. First about Libya battle, as to which we agreed that reports were disappointing. We were both depressed by extent to which Rommel appears able to retain offensive. "I fear that we have not very good generals," said Winston.
14th June: Libyan battle is raging fiercely. Rommel still seems to have the initiative and either his resources are much greater than our people judged, or his losses have been considerably less than they estimated. On their calculation he should have few tanks left, yet he always comes up strong.
(7) Hugh Dalton, diary entry (27th August, 1942)
In the Middle East the morale of all our people was most deplorable. Auchinleck had completely lost confidence in himself. Everybody was always looking over their shoulders towards prepared positions to which to retreat. The units at the Front were hopelessly mixed up, and there was no evidence of good staff work. Auchinleck had 180 Generals on his staff. This number has now been reduced to 30 by his successor. We should, of course, have hit Rommel hard when he reached his furthest point of advance. Winston Churchill and Sir Alan Brooke both went up to the line and followed different routes, and met that evening to compare notes. "Both", said Morton, "came back with faces like boots." They were both convinced that drastic and speedy action must be taken. Already there had been a very great improvement. But it was only just in time. Alexander, Auchinleck's successor, has hitherto been in charge of brilliant retreats. He was the last man off the beaches at Dunkirk and since then he has done Burma.
(8) Bernard Montgomery met Claude Auchinleck just before he was replaced by Harold Alexander in August 1942.
Auchinleck took me into his map-room and shut the door we were alone. He asked me if I knew he was to go. I said that I did. He then explained to me his plan of operations this was based on the fact that at all costs the Eighth Army was to be preserved "in being" and must not be destroyed in battle. If Rommel attacked in strength, as was expected soon, the Eighth Army would fall back on the Delta if Cairo and the Delta could not be held, the army would retreat southwards up the Nile, and another possibility was a withdrawal to Palestine.
I listened in amazement to his exposition of his plans. I asked one or two questions, but I quickly saw that he resented any question directed to immediate changes of policy about which he had already made up his mind. So I remained silent.
(9) General Harold Alexander decided that when he took over control of British troops in Egypt he needed to restore morale. He explained his strategy in his book, Memoirs: 1940-1945 (1961)
My first step in restoring morale, therefore, was to lay down the firm principle, to be made known to all ranks, that no further withdrawal was contemplated and that we would fight the coming battle on the ground on which we stood. General Montgomery fully concurred in this policy, and communicated it to the Eighth Army H.Q. staff at a meeting held on the second evening of his arrival and it went out to him as a written directive when I formally took over the Middle East command.
There is no doubt at all that Montgomery, during his address, gave brilliant emphasis to the agreed policy. He informed his audience that he had ordered all withdrawal plans to be burnt, that the defence of the Delta meant nothing to him, that all resources earmarked to that end were to be used to strengthen the Eighth Army.
(10) The Manchester Guardian (13th November, 1942)
The Eighth Army continue to advance all alone the line in hot pursuit of Rommel's force, which, on the coast road in particular, are being relentlessly attacked by our aircraft and artillery.
It has not been disclosed how far back the enemy has moved. Our correspondent in Cairo reported last night that in the north the old front, has been left far behind and the Italians yesterday spoke of "bitter and bloody fighting between El Alamein and Fuka" and of a subsequent Axis withdrawal "to new lines to the west." Fuka is 60 miles west of El Alamein and 40 miles from Mersa Matruh. There are isolated pockets holding out in the desert twenty to thirty miles from the coast.
A British United Press war correspondent cabled last night that the artillery and armoured screen behind which the enemy were retiring to the north had been pierced at many points and that our fighting columns had pushed ahead.
Rommel is giving priority to the Germans in the attempt to escape and his Italian allies are being largely used - and sacrificed to cover his withdrawal.
Recovery in the style of which Rommel has shown himself a master in the past will now be rendered difficult by a shortage of transport and a shortage of petrol. Another convoy, including a tanker, was stopped yesterday between Greece and Tobruk. For the past few weeks not a single tanker has got through to the ports of Cyrenaica.
(11) Statement issued by the German government (6th November, 1942)
During Monday night, unnoticed by the enemy, Rommel carried out a regrouping of his forces behind a more than thin security chain. But even after the last regrouping had been completed in full daylight early yesterday and the bulk of the Axis forces had calmly taken up positions on newly prepared defence lines and settled down there - that is 48 hours afterwards - the British High Command still did not believe their reconnaissance.
Only when the security chain had to leave its position owing to shortage of ammunition did the British penetrate into the Axis defence system which had already been evacuated by us. The fact that this operation as daring in its planning as in its execution could be carried out in almost parade-ground order without losses worth mentioning in men and material and without the British being able to intervene is principally due to German and Italian troops holding the security chain and fighting against the overwhelmingly superior enemy to their last hand-grenade and the last bullet.
When the foremost German security lines were spent all their ammunition and were impotently facing the enemy, who was attacking in mass formation. General Ritter von Thoma, at the head of a small tank unit, pushed deep into the enemy formations and fought a fierce battle with a number of heavy British tanks, lasting for several hours.
Although, in view of the enemy's superiority the issue of the battle was not in doubt the British penetrated the already evacuated positions only after the last shell had been fired and the few German tanks had been put out of action. Von Thoma fell into enemy hands far in front of the German lines.
The battalion commanded by Colonel Borchardt with equal gallantry held a large sector of the security screen. Without tank support and without anti-tank guns, the battalion covered the regrouping for two days against the attacking mass of British tanks which, in spite of repeated attacks was unable to dislodge the tank grenadiers. Their task completed, the remnants of this battalion fought their way through to the German lines.
Here, as well as in the adjoining sector held by an Italian tank unit, the British were made to pay for their penetration with enormous losses in men and material. The Italians fought to the last man.
(12) General Brian Horrocks fought in the British Army during the Desert War. In his autobiography he compared the merits of Bernard Montgomery and Erwin Rommel.
One of the most fascinating studies of the last war was the contrast between these two great commanders, Montgomery and Rommel, each in his own way an outstanding general, yet utterly and absolutely different in almost every respect. Rommel was probably the best armoured corps commander produced by either side. Utterly fearless, full of drive and initiative, he was always up in front where the battle was fiercest. If his opponent made a mistake, Rommel was on to it like a flash, and he never hesitated to take personal command of a regiment or battalion if he thought fit. On one occasion he was found lifting mines with his own hands. His popularity with the soldiers was immense, but a great many officers resented his interference with their commands.
All this reads like the copybook general but, in point of fact, this is not the best way to control a swift-moving, modern battle. Very often at a critical moment no one could find Rommel, because he was conducting personally some battalion attack. He tended to become so involved in some minor action that he failed to appreciate the general picture of the battlefield.
Monty was not such a dashing, romantic figure as his opponent nor would you find him leading a forlorn hope in person, for the simple reason that if he was in command forlorn hopes did not occur. He had an extraordinary capacity for putting his finger straight on the essentials of any problem, and of being able to explain them simply and clearly. He planned all his battles most carefully - and then put them out of his mind every night. I believe he was awakened in the night only half a dozen times during the whole war.
Their handling of the battle of Alam Haifa makes the contrast clear. Having made the best possible plan to win the battle, yet at the same time to husband his resources, Monty dismissed Alam Haifa entirely from his mind and concentrated on the next one.
While Rommel was leading his troops in person against strongly-held defensive positions on the Alam Halfa ridge, Montgomery was planning the battle of Alamein. That was the difference between the two.
(13) The Manchester Guardian (13th November, 1942)
Tobruk is again in our hands. Last evening's reports that our heavy and medium bombers on the way to attack the Tobruk area on Armistice night found the target already lit by scores of fires confirmed the conclusion, based on estimates of his losses, that the enemy's remnants could not attempt to stand on that position. Our troops, continuing their
pursuit, the pace of which is illustrated by the fact that they recently covered 130 miles in two days - almost twice Rommel's best speed, - took Sollum and Bardia yesterday and this morning entered Tobruk.
Inland our forces were in touch with the rearguard of the enemy yesterday in the El Adem area south of Tobruk. The next hurdle is the Gazala line, but it is realised now that though the Axis retreat was orderly as far as Ghazal, twelve miles east of Daba it has since grown more precipitate, The capture o£ some eighty Ariete tanks in running order in that area, of railway trucks loaded with guns for Matruh, of several large intact ammunition dumps, and in the frontier zone of men of the motorised Italian Pistoia Division without their transport tells a tale of unseemly flight at least on the Germans' part, who nevertheless are fighting spiritedly when brought to battle. !
Our constant day and night air attacks ensure that the enemy will be unable to regain his cohesion. West of Tobruk his columns have been bombed and machine-gunned, and farther west still where the coast road curves sharply round Gazala Bay, hemmed between sea and cliff so that vehicles have no escape an enemy concentration of trucks were heavily punished.
One low-flying aircraft, after good work with machine-guns, ringed the transports with incendiaries. The effect on the enemy's moral of these constant air attacks can be imagined when it is realised that his harassed troops are not provided with any fighter screen whatever.
(14) Denis Falvey, A Well-Known Excellence (2002)
Raw troops in tropical kit were fit subjects only for music-hall jokes. We looked, and felt, ridiculous. The authorities were terrified their charges would contract heatstroke, so we always had to wear 'coal-scuttle' helmets in the heat of the day, and the buttoned-up portions of our shorts had to be turned down to protect our delicate knees. How it was possible for our authorities to rule a country like Egypt for generations and persist in believing in a myth like that of sunstroke defies explanation. The helmets, which were heavy, were soon replaced by light pith topees, and these, in turn, soon disappeared in favour of the familiar forage cap. The comic shorts were also replaced by more modern ones, with the result that we looked and felt much smarter. On active service in the desert many men went further, particularly those of
dark complexion, and were bare to the waist, with perhaps a handkerchief to protect the back of the neck. Hats were rarely worn in action.
(15) In Italy in 1943 Bernard Montgomery commented on the importance of air support during modern battles.
I believe that the first and great principle of war is that you must first win your air battle before you fight your land and sea battle. If you examine the conduct of the campaign from Alamein through Tunisia, Sicily and Italy you will find I have never fought a land battle until the air battle has been won. We never had to bother about the enemy air, because we won the air battle first.
The second great principle is that Army plus Air has to be so knitted that the two together from one entity. If you do that, the resultant military effort will be so great that nothing will be able to stand against it.
The third principle is that the Air Force command. I hold that it is quite wrong for the soldier to want to exercise command over the air striking forces. The handling of an Air Force is a life-study, and therefore the air part must be kept under Air Force command.
The Desert Air Force and the Eighth Army are one. We do not understand the meaning of "army cooperation". When you are one entity you cannot cooperate. If you knit together the power of the Army on the land and the power of the Air in the sky, then nothing will stand against you and you will never lose a battle.
(16) Wilhelm von Thoma fought against Bernard Montgomery in the Desert War. After the war he was interviewed by Basil Liddell Hart for his book The Other Side of the Hill (1948)
I thought he (Montgomery) was very cautious, considering his immensely superior strength, but he is the only Field-Marshal in this war who won all his battles. In modem mobile warfare the tactics are not the main thing. The decisive factor is the organization of one's resources to maintain the momentum.
(17) Harold Alexander and Bernard Montgomery were criticized for not being more aggressive after the Allied victory at El Alamein. He defended his actions in his autobiography published in 1961.
At Alamein Rommel was utterly defeated but not annihilated: Alamein was a decisive victory but not a complete one. It is easy to look back after eighteen years and suggest that the Afrika Korps could have been destroyed by a more vigorous exploitation after the breakthrough, but let us remember the realities of the time.
Monty had his first big command. He was new to the desert. He was fighting a great battlefield tactician in Rommel, whose troops were seasoned warriors: he and they had won some remarkable victories whereas the Eighth Army had only recently been reformed and given the material to take on the Axis at better odds many of our fresh reinforcements were new to desert conditions and although our Intelligence was good we couldn't know accurately what punch the Germans were still nursing.
(18) Studs Terkel interviewed General William Buster of the US Army about his experiences during the Second World War for his book, The Good War (1985)
The ships were combat-loaded in Norfolk for the African invasion. Everything was put on backwards, to be taken off and go onto the beach in proper order. For example, the vehicles were put on last, so they could come off first.
The invasion was in three groups. The Western Task Force, the one I was in, attacked Morocco. The Central landed at Oran. The third, at Algiers. Actually we were opposing the Vichy French at the time. It's absolutely remarkable that in two years an American army could organize such an invasion force. The boys on the ship had no idea where they were going. It was a strongly kept secret none of us really knew. I didn't know until we were at sea.
The ship was loaded with all these crates of weapons that nobody had ever seen before. Bazookas. We didn't know what bazookas were. We had no training with them at sea. There were a lot of things we didn't know about them. You'd fire it, and unburned powder grains would hit you in the face as the projectile went out. The first guy that pulled that trigger had red spots all over his face. We found out that you had to wear goggles and keep your face covered.
The French capitulated very quickly after some desultory fighting. We went into intensive training, not knowing why they didn't send us up into Tunisia. Here, early on, the American forces got the heck kicked out of them at Kasserine Pass. Here we were, the best armored division in the world, we thought, sitting back three hundred miles from the action, not being used. We found out afterwards we were keeping French Morocco from getting involved in the war. We were also a strategic threat to Spanish Morocco and keeping the Nazis or the Italians from using it as a base.