U.S. Ambassador to Morocco Puneet Talwar, Polish Ambassador Krzysztof Karwowski and British Ambassador Simon Martin joined today the High Commissioner for Former Resistance and Former Members of the Liberation Army, Mustapha El Ktiri, the governor of Kenitra province, Fouad M’Hamdi, and Kenitra mayor, Anas Bouanani, for the inauguration of a mural commemorating the 80th anniversary of Operation Torch, the first major U.S. military operation of the European-North Africa theater during World War II and a milestone in the deep, historic ties between the United States, Poland, the United Kingdom and Morocco.
The Operation Torch mural, a joint project of the Polish and the U.S. embassies in Morocco, was made possible by the support of the Rabat-Sale-Kenitra Wilaya and Kenitra municipal authorities.
“Today, we look back at the events of November 1942 with reverence, and we express our deep gratitude to the allied soldiers, sailors and airmen for the role they played in securing the foundation for peace and security in the region,” Ambassador Talwar said. “Our commitment to working to secure that peace with our close allies – especially Morocco and Poland – is stronger than ever.”
“I am happy and moved to see that this magnificent and impressive mural, which links the history of Morocco, the United States and Poland, in Kenitra, a key location for Operation Torch,” Ambassador Karwowski said. “This mural is a tribute to the known and unknown heroes of World War II, to whom we owe our freedom. I am particularly proud to be able to pay tribute to Poland’s great hero, Major “Rygor” Słowikowski, whose role in the success of Operation Torch is gradually being revealed by American, British and Polish historians.”
Context of the mural
On Nov. 8, 1942, more than 30,000 U.S. troops from the Western Naval Task Force landed in Safi, Mohammedia, and near Kenitra as part of Operation Torch, which was, at that time, the largest amphibious military landing in history. The operation’s success relied heavily on a spy network headed by Polish Army Major Słowikowski, who provided the British and Americans with more than 1,200 secret reports on Morocco and Algeria, which was then under the control of the French government headquartered in Vichy.
Operation Torch Mural
The Operation Torch Mural is more than 35 meters high and covers a total area of more than 500m2. It is located in the center of Kenitra, in front of city hall. Polish artist Ewa Potocka, who lives in Fez, designed the mural, and pained it in December alongside Anna Troczyńska and Daria Makarewicz, who came from Poland for the project.
The mural depicts the following images:
- A map of the main Operation Torch landing sites in North Africa
- Major Słowikowski, the head of Polish Intelligence in North Africa
- Anfa Conference. On Jan. 22, 1943, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and then-Sultan Mohammed V met in Casablanca to discuss the war.
- A U.S. ship of the coast of Kenitra, which was called Port Lyautey in 1942, and was one of three landing sites for American troops in Morocco.
The mural inauguration is one of the closing events for several months of outreach efforts about Operation Torch, informing Moroccans about the depth of the ties connecting Morocco and the United States – as well as our British and Polish allies – dating to this turning point in world history.
A permanent exhibition about the history of the U.S.-Morocco relationship during World War II is now open at the Tangier American Legation Museum.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Morocco.