The government of Vichy promptly broke off diplomatic relations with Washington. Pétain remained true to his pledge to ‘defend the empire.’ In truth, he was trying to placate the Germans and he soon dispatched a secret message to the Vichy High Commissioner in Algiers, Admiral Jean-François Darlan, telling him he had a free hand in negotiating with the Allies. (Pétain stopped short of following the advice of General Maxime Weygand, which was to line up with the British and Americans.)By the time German high command appreciated what was taking place and had responded by orderings its U-boats to head towards Morocco, it was already too late. Despite spirited resistance by Vichy forces, Algiers fell that same evening. Casablanca and Oran surrendered a day or so later.
Hitler responded by ordering his troops to occupy the whole of France. The Unoccupied Zone existed no longer. He also ordered his forces to take over the French fleet, anchored in Toulon, but the French navy scuttled every one of its ships before the Germans arrived.
Churchill, who had strongly advocated Operation Torch, was vindicated. The operation was a success. It put a strong Allied force behind the Afrika Korps’s rear, would be a bridgehead for offensive action against Italy, and threatened the possibility of opening a second front by invading German-occupied Greece.