Both Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt knew that they had to make some tangible moves against the Germans in 1942. And despite Josef Stalin’s insistence that western allies open a second front, Churchill knew that would end in disaster.

So the powers decided that they’d first pacify North Africa, where the British Eighth Army and the German Afrika Korps had been fighting back and forth since 1940. After much disagreement, it was decided to invade Morocco and Algeria and establish a base where the supply lines for the Germans in the Mediterranean could be cut. This would open as Mr. Churchill called it the “soft underbelly of Europe.” But this first foray for the Americans into the war against Nazi Germany was a victory, not so much militarily but politically as the allies were treading on a slippery slope dealing with the Free French as well as Vichy and the inexperienced Americans.

President Roosevelt had wanted to execute “Operation Sledgehammer”, the joint Allied invasion of Western Europe into France, but Field Marshal Rommel’s attack in Egypt had come with 120 miles of Alexandria. General Marshall and Admiral King of the US had argued that the British didn’t want to invade France or Belgium in either 1942 or 1943. But they were ordered by the President to go along, one of only two times during the war years that he so invoked that privilege.

The Plan: The Allies decided on the operation to be done with three separate task forces. The overall commander was General Eisenhower with his deputy of General Mark Clark. Clark would come ashore by submarine early and in a bit of cloak and dagger, try to convince the French not to fight.