Play Ball by James Dietz

Play Ball by James Dietz

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Play Ball

"The Western Task Force Assault on Morocco, November 8, 1942."

Operation Torch began November 8, 1942, and was the first major Allied land-sea-air offensive during World War II. The Campaign Plan called for three naval task forces to invade North Africa.

Operation Torch was a joint operation requiring close cooperation between the U.S.

Army and the U.S. Navy in an era when interaction between the two services was uncommon.

Operation Torch further required close cooperation between British and American land, sea, and air forces and constituted the first major combined Anglo-American offensive of World War II. Like most forcible entry situations, Operation Torch was extremely risky as opposing Vichy French forces had powerful land, sea, and air capabilities, and Allied forces came ashore far from supporting friendly bases.

The Western Task Force, commanded by Rear Admiral Henry K. Hewitt and Major General George S. Patton, assaulted Morocco directly from Norfolk, Virginia. Using a code word from the nation's pastime, baseball, the command to "Play Ball" was issued and the invasion landing began. American Navy and Army units engaged French Vichy Forces to open the North African Campaign.

As the sun rose the morning of November 8, soldiers from the U.S. 2nd Armored Division and the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division disembarked the ships of Admiral Hewitt's Task Force. Admiral Hewitt's flagship, the USS Augusta, sailed just off shore. Overhead, U.S. Navy F4F Wildcats flew in close air support. Vichy French Infantry were captured and led to landing craft.

Infantrymen from the 3rd Infantry Division came ashore armed with M1 Garand rifles, Browning Automatic Rifles, and M1 Carbine rifles. M3 light tanks from the 2nd Armored Division rallied and prepared for battles to come. A battalion command group assessed the situation in a Willy's Jeep, while a Military Policeman prepared to move out on a Harley-Davidson WLA. This print commemorates the men who responded with courage and tenacity as they took the fight to the Axis forces in North Africa in response to the uniquely American command - "Play Ball."