September 28, 2017

1942. Berlin and Vichy Worry About the Allies' Next Moves in West Africa

Rumors of Allied Maneuvers in the South Atlantic
"United Nations Casablanca convoy moves eastward across Atlantic bound for Africa," November 1942 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS London

October 4, 1942

London is a rumor factory today. Reports about West Africa and the possibility of an Allied move there is creating a minor war of nerves—a war of nerves which apparently has Berlin and Vichy extremely worried.

Axis radio stations for the past week have been fishing for information from the South Atlantic. If there is any truth to these Axis-inspired reports—and often in the past such rumors have been based on at least a grain of truth—it would appear that something is due to happen somewhere south of Gibraltar. There is, of course, no comment and no confirmation from British quarters of these rumors.

All this week continental radio stations and Axis-controlled news agencies have marketed West African rumors. The latest one is the report that a French flotilla of twenty submarines have arrived in Dakar, which Vichy said followed a "piercing of the Strait of Gibraltar" on September 20.

Earlier the Vichy News Agency inferred that another British convoy is on its way to West Africa including fourteen British supply ships. Vichy said this convoy left Gibraltar on Friday and was escorted by "exceptionally strong forces including a battleship, two cruisers, and six destroyers."

United States Army headquarters in London have been letting Berlin worry about whether America is doing anything in West Africa. American officials said they had no comment to make on Berlin radio's assertion that an entire American division has been landed from twenty transports at Takoradi on the Gold Coast.

Many London newspapers consider these reports so newsworthy that their headlines rank in importance with the Battle of Stalingrad. But whatever is happening or not happening in the South Atlantic, it is one time when the worrying is not being done by the United Nations.

While the world is awaiting authoritative news of just what is going on in West Africa, a major diplomatic mystery is developing here. Myron Taylor, President Roosevelt's personal representative to the Vatican, today is holding secret conferences with high British government officials. Mr. Taylor undoubtedly will confer with Prime Minister Churchill.

There probably will be no official statement as to the purpose of Mr. Taylor's visit to London until he has reported to the president in Washington. But British diplomatic quarters said the fact that Mr. Taylor came to the British capital instead of going directly to Washington might be considered significant. It is expected that the position of the Vatican in relation to the war should be more definitely and strictly defined after Mr. Taylor makes his report.

It is also understood that Mr. Taylor during his recent two and one-half hour conference with the pope informed His Holiness of the United States' determination to crush the Axis.