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A long voyage home

But one day the Gestapo caught up with Malevergne, whisked him to Rabat for two months of questioning and solitary confinement, then flew him to France to stand trial. Somehow, he managed to convince the court that no one could guide a small boat through the mountainous surf off Mehdia. A few months later, the Germans shipped him to Casablanca on parole. Two American Office of Strategic Services (OSS) agents approached Malevergne and he quickly agreed to serve the Allied cause.

"The problem", former OSS Col Corney Ford later wrote, "was how to smuggle him past the French and Spanish border-control posts into Tangier. Two OSS (agents) volunteered to run the gauntlet in their ancient Chevrolet, carrying Malevergne secreted in the trailer … stashed behind some gasoline drums, covered with a Moroccan rug and a heavy canvas tarpaulin.

"They passed the French border post without incident, but at the Spanish post the sentry demanded to know what was in the trailer. While one of the agents was examining the gasoline drums in the rear, the other noticed to his dismay that the sentry's dog was sniffing at the front of the tarpaulin and bristling suspiciously. With rare presence of mind, he produced a tin of canned meat from his lunch box to distract the dog's attention. The sentry was overwhelmed by this generosity to his pet, and motioned them through the control post gates with a sweeping gesture. Safe at last in Tangier, Malevergne was helped out of his cramped hiding place, slightly stiff but otherwise intact, and flown to Washington by way of Gibraltar."

There his extensive knowledge of wind, tide, current and surf were used to help plan Operation Torch - the invasion of North Africa.
Port Lyautey
The key to the African invasion was the airfield at Port-Lyautey, located 12 miles up the Sebou River from Mehdia. The field, the only concrete, all-weather strip in Morocco, would have to be captured, then stocked with high-octane gasoline, bombs and ammunition so that an American fighter group, catapulted from an escort carrier, could land and provide cover for bombers to be flown in from Gibraltar.

The Dallas
The first step would be to cut the wire net and boom which the Vichy French had installed to block the Sebou. After that, a pilot would be needed to guide two ships up the shallow, winding river. The first, the destroyer Dallas, would land a raider detachment at Port-Lyautey to help capture the airfield. Then a cargo vessel - identity still unknown - would steam up the river and deliver gasoline, bombs and ammunition.

Malevergne agreed to pilot both vessels.