St. Tropez, 15 August … 1944 – what happened?

On 15 Aug 1944, the landing troops sailed from Corsica surprised the German and Vichy French defenders at the French Riviera (Cavalaire-sur-Mer, Saint-Tropez, and Saint-Raphaël beaches). Within the first two days 13,000 men and 18,000 vehicles were transported ashore, and the port cities of Toulon and Marseille were under Allied control by the end of the month. With the intelligence information provided by local French Resistance, the Dragoon landers were able to connect with Patton’s American forces near Dijon by 15 Sep. (II World War database)

rivieraddayships_small The Allied invasion of southern France in the late summer of 1944, an operation first code-named ANVIL and later DRAGOON, marked the beginning of one of the most successful but controversial campaigns of World War II. However, because it fell both geographically and chronologically between two much larger Allied efforts in northern France and Italy, both its conduct and its contributions have been largely ignored. Planned originally as a simultaneous complement to OVERLORD, the cross-Channel attack on Normandy, ANVIL actually took place over two months later, on 15 August 1944, making it appear almost an afterthought to the main Allied offensive in northern Europe. Yet the success of ANVIL and the ensuing capture of the great southern French ports of Toulon and Marseilles, together with the subsequent drive north up the Rhone River valley to Lyon and Dijon, were ultimately to provide critical support to the Normandy-based armies finally moving east toward the German border. (History of Army)

In conducting Operation Dragoon, the Allies sustained around 17,000 killed and wounded while inflicting losses numbering approximately 7,000 killed, 10,000 wounded, and 130,000 captured on the Germans. Shortly after their capture, work began to repair the port facilities at Toulon and Marseille. Both were open to shipping by September 20. As the railroads running north were restored, the two ports became vital supply hubs for Allied forces in France. Though its value was debated, Operation Dragoon saw Devers and Patch clear southern France in faster than expected time while effectively gutting Army Group G. (Military History)


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