Notes for Troops Proceeding to North Africa


The following has been taken from a pamphlet issued to troops on their way to North Africa. I will cover only a few issues.

I-North and Northwest Africa

Your present journey will be taking you to new parts of the world where the people, their customs and manner of living and the geography of the country will be, for the majority of us, completely strange and foreign.

You will, of course want to know and respect the people in whose country we are stationed. They will judge us by our conduct as individuals. You are, in a very real sense, an ambassador of our nation.

You may be asked this question by the inhabitants:

“Why have you come?”

The answer is straightforward and simple. We have come to drive out the common enemy. We seek no territory or material gains. The people of this area are our traditional friends. We want to keep them as friends. We have come to help them, not to oppress them.

IV-Geography

The country of Algeria and French Morocco is generally of the same type and consists of a fertile coastal strip, in rear of which rise three mountain ranges which in general run parallel to the coastal outline. Between these ranges in certain localities you will find agricultural or grazing lands. Large sections of these three mountain ranges are barren, rocky, and practically inaccessible. In rear of the innermost of these ranges lies the Sahara Desert.

The climate of these countries varies considerably depending where you are. The coastal towns are apt to be damp and oppressive in summer, and though the winters are cold, they do not compare to our English winters. But it is apt to turn chilly at sundown, which is the time when cold may easily be caught after the heat of the day.

In the mountain areas, the climate is mild in summer; the days may be hot, but the nights cool. Winter in the mountains is in general cold with light North winds and occasional snow. Rain is infrequent in these areas.

During the entire year a strong North wind called the SIROCCO may sweep the country. This wind is dry and hot, usually carries fine sand and dust and is very trying. In addition, dust storms are fairly frequent during the summer and may occur during the winter.

Mirage is of fairly frequent occurrence in Desert Regions. It generally occurs early in the morning. These mirages are apt to be very confusing to troops not used to them, for as a result of images, ranges are hard to estimate and objects take on a deceptive appearance. But it should not be imagined that Mirage-as the cinema leads us to suppose-invariably presents visions of Dorothy Lamour or Hollywood palaces. The usual Mirage is a distortion of distant views, such as hilltops floating in the air or suppressed completely by heat haze, and a general confusion of perspective.

Careless Talk

Finally a word to the wise. The whole of North Africa has been flooded, in the last two years, with Axis agents who will be eager to obtain all information possible about our plans, our strength, our troop dispositions; in fact, any type of information. A clever agent may get the complete plan by piecing together small scraps of conversations. Remember silence will save your life and the lives of your fellow soldiers, so DON’T talk or let your friends talk about military affairs.

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