The Provence landings

  • French National Day, 14th July, Champs-Elysées

    French National Day, 14th July, Champs-Elysées

    © ATOUT FRANCE/Pascal Gréboval

The Provence landings toulon fr

Provence in August 1944: a new front opened up following the landings of 6 June 1944.

15 August 1944 was the date chosen for the launch of the operation code-named "Dragoon" on the coastline of Provence. The objective was to open up a second front on French soil and it would involve 2,000 warships and as many aircraft.
The 7th American Army under General Patch, which incorporated the B-section of the French Army under the command of General de Lattre de Tassigny, arrived within sight of the coastline during the night of 14 to 15 August. The resistance fighters in Provence had been warned of the attack by BBC announcements. A little after midnight, whilst the US Rangers were landing on the islands of the Levant, the first French commandos seized Cap Nègre and established a vital beachhead base near Le Lavandou.
During the night, over 5,000 allied paratroopers were dropped over the Argens valley to secure access to the landing zone. They were supported by the interior French forces.
At dawn, an aerial and naval bombing offensive crushed the German batteries. At 8am, the 3rd, 36th and 45th US Infantry Divisions (U.S.I.D.) landed on the beaches of the coastline between Cavalaire and Saint-Raphaël.
The bulk of the French forces began to land on the 16th. Whilst the American forces moved north towards the Durance and the Rhone Valley, the French Army's B-section was assigned the task of taking Toulon and Marseilles, both vital ports for the Allies' strategy. On 20 August, the encircling of Toulon began. Whilst the elite French Commandos and Chocs were seizing enemy batteries, the Free-French, Algerians, Colonial Army "Marsouins" (marines) and Senegalese were all displaying outstanding bravery in taking the town. The 9th Colonial Infantry Division (D.I.C.) then finished off liberating Toulon from the occupying force. On 28 August, the German garrison surrendered. At the same time, de Lattre launched his troops on Marseilles.
Aubagne was taken by the Moroccans. The 3rd Algerian Infantry Division (D.I.A.) under General de Monsabert took up position on the outskirts of Marseilles where an uprising had already began. On 23 August, infantry and cavalry joined the resistance forces.
It took five days of violent combat to break down the German defences. The two ports were conquered a month ahead of schedule. The French armies could then head up the Rhone valley to help push back the enemy.

The Provence Landings Memorial 
Mont Faron - 83200 TOULON
Tel: + 33 (0)4 94 88 08 09 / +33 (0)4 94 88 13 35

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