So I finally picked up a copy of Atkinson's "An Army at Dawn" about the US Army during Torch & Tunisia. It was quite excellent as I knew it would be after accidentally reading his "Day of Battle" (Italy) first. I will re-read that now before moving on to the end of the trilogy - "Guns at Last Light" (NW Europe).
As usual with good history, it did leave me with some answers about things I didn't understand, and then new questions too.
I have always known that there was some combat with the Vichy forces; the naval battle with the USN being quite dramatic, but there was ground combat as well. But I did not know Allied casualties ran to 2,200 (half KIA), and the Vichy casualties were on the range of 3,000. The Royal Navy tried some coup-de-main assault landings in Vichy harbors using American infantry forces; these were just about wiped out by the Vichy defenders. I think the Allies at the time kept the casualty details as minimized as possible amidst the general tragedy that was Vichy France and the ongoing creation of an organized Free France. Patton thought most of the screwed-up landings would have failed completely against any other military force; TORCH was about the perfect operation for live combat training of near totally green land and naval forces.
After the landings, I have never known much about what happens until the larger battles in Tunisia a few months later. It seems to me that the Allied command had plenty of FUBAR ops going on; though I had never known the details on just how the 3 Allied armies were mixed together all through their lines, one battalion at a time here there and everywhere. In WiF terms, the Axis promptly landed a high-quality German MECH, covered by a FTR2 and a Stuka, and this was easily able to stop a couple Allied divs just after they crossed the Tunisian border. The book alludes that some of the first Axis units in Tunisia were parachute infantry plucked from training for an aborted Axis attack on Malta. One has to think that this would account for the Luftwaffe strength in the Mediterranean right then; an ATR or perhaps 2 even also operated from Sicily.
At the time of the landings, the struggle for the city center of Stalingrad was at it's peak. The Germans were busy moving 10+ divisions to the eastern front at the same time so one can't say that Torch distracted the German Army all that much from ops on the Eastern Front as Stalin regularly demanded, but I would have to think that all those Luftwaffe assets flying around Tunisia would have been a big help to Paulus (4 air missions / land impulse, for the Germans).
The book is about the American Army after all, so other operations are not covered in detail. By the end in Tunis, the Allies had solid air superiority - what is left unexplained is why the Allies did not have FTR cover as they entered Tunisia? (common rookie WiF player mistake).
I have also always wondered why the units first entering Tunisia were such small units when Allied resources were pouring ashore in Algeria - & why was Patton in Morocco all that time? Naturally, one reason was logistics but another factor was the US high command in Washington was concerned about Spain either entering the war or allowing German troops to cross Spain; strong Allied forces were held in Morocco and western Algeria for this concern. (Not a problem in WiF, with the fixed diplomatic state of the neutrals).
I also learned that during the last few days of combat in Tunisia, both Montgomery and US General Terry Allen (1st Infantry), launched pointless attacks on their fronts in a final attempt to share in the glory of entering the city of Tunis itself. Each cost several hundred Allied casualties for no point at all - Allen's attack was even in direct contradiction of orders from his corps commander (Bradley, right then). The charge of "glory hunting" is a frequent theme in discussions of the western Alliance land operations, but this was the first I have read of it being something more than talk around a staff table. I believe Allen's decision there in Tunisia will be part of Atkinson's writing in the subsequent 2 volumes.