However, there was a limit to how far east the Torch landings could be made because of the increasing proximity of Axis airfields in Sicily and Sardinia which at the end of October held 298 German and 574 Italian aircraft.Algiers was accordingly chosen for the most easterly landings.Plans were thus a compromise and the Allies realised that an attempt to reach Bizerta and Tunis overland before the Axis could establish themselves represented a gamble which depended on the ability of the navy and air force to delay the Axis build-up.
No Axis ships sailing to Tunis were sunk in November but the Allied naval forces had some success in early December sinking seven Axis transports.
However, this came too late to affect the fighting on land because the armoured elements of 10th Panzer Division had already arrived.
The chronic difficulty in the supply of military forces in the desert led to several indecisive victories by both sides and long fruitless advances along the coast.
The Italian invasion of Egypt by the 10th Army in 1940, advanced 97 km (60 mi) into Egypt and more than 1,600 km (1,000 mi) in a straight line from Tripoli, 600 km (370 mi) from Benghazi and 320 km (200 mi) from Tobruk.
An Allied occupation of the whole of the North African coast would open the Mediterranean to Allied shipping, releasing the huge capacity required to maintain supplies around the circuitous route via the Cape of Good Hope.
On 8 November, Operation Torch landed Allied forces in Algeria (at Oran and Algiers) and Morocco (at Casablanca) with the intention that once Vichy forces in Algeria had capitulated, an advance would be made to Tunis some 800 km (500 mi) to the east.The Tunisian Campaign (also known as the Battle of Tunisia) was a series of battles that took place in Tunisia during the North African Campaign of the Second World War, between Axis and Allied forces.The Allies consisted of British Imperial Forces, including Polish and Greek contingents, with American and French corps.This would ensure the success of the initial landings in spite of uncertainty as to how the incumbent French forces would react.Once Algiers was secured, a small force, the Eastern Task Force, would be projected as quickly as possible into Tunisia in a race to occupy Tunis, some 800 km (500 mi) distant along poor roads in difficult terrain during the winter rainy season, before the Axis could organise.With the arrival of the German Afrika Korps the Axis counter-attacked in Operation Sonnenblume and in April 1941 reached the limit of their supply capacity at the Egyptian border but failed to recapture Tobruk.