First Days in North Africa:
Excerpts from "The Blue Devils in Italy", The Story of the 88th Infantry Division.
by John P. Delaney
(page 35): Plans to close in the entire Division at the Oran staging area were changed with the arrival of
General Sloan and it was decided to move the units to a larger training area approximately four miles south of
Magenta, Algeria. Division Headquarters in the field was set up here and as the various increments landed at
Casablanca and Oran they were routed to the new area. Here a rigid training program was instituted with
emphasis on mountain climbing, demolitions, mines, marksmanship, physical hardening and the operations of small
units at night. In the cold, rocky hills regiments hiked and climbed and fought mock battles. On the plains
near Bedeau, artillery units used the ranges of the famous French Foreign Legion for dry runs and practice
barrages. The pressure was on.
A favorite division sport in Africa, which also came under the head of
training, was the almost daily Arab roundup conducted by MPs and infantrymen to clear bivuoac sites of the
peddlers and camp followers infesting the Division area.
Training however, was not the only activity. For one thing there were parties and celebrations on New Year's
Eve -- lacking the color and glamour of a Times Square blowoff but nonetheless noisy and moist.