Jump to content


Operation Dragoon

  • Please log in to reply
12 replies to this topic

#1 DomR67



  • Sergeant
  • 62 posts

Posted 28 July 2003 - 05:40 AM

Hi everybody,

We have all in mind the landing in Normady. But there will be another anniversary in August 2004 : the landing in Provence, the 15th of August 1944 .

Originally code-named 'Anvil', the South of France invasion was planned to coincide with the Normandy landings. Since that decision was made, Britain pushed for the Allies to concentrate on the Italian campaign, but under US pressure agreed to go ahead with the now re-named Operation 'Dragoon' using forces withdrawn from US Fifth Army in Italy

August 15, 1944, a allied armada emerges to broad from the coasts of Provence. It includes/understands 10 aircraft carriers, 5 battleships, 25 cruisers, 109 destroyers and escort ships, nearly 2000 apparatuses of bombardment and hunting, including 200 embarked. Then it pours on the beaches more than 300 000 soldiers. In the previous hours, the wall threatening of barbed wires, mines, concreted works, heavy artillery was started, but remains frightening. In the night from the 14 to August 15, the commandos already achieved the goal, at the price of heavy losses. In-depth, in the mountains of the back-country of Provence, 10 000 parachutists were released. They are on the point of blocking the German reinforcements, if they would launch a counter-offensive. The French Army is back in metropolis, and represents nearly 65 % of the whole of the troops, with two armoured divisions and five divisions of infantry. They attack everywhere by taking foolish risks in impracticable sites. After inou´es difficulties, the town of Toulon is encircled as from August 18, then the operation towards Marseilles starts as of August 20. The French Army allows the luxury at the same time to carry out two battles: the engagements are completed there simultaneously on August 28. These two large ports will make it possible to make forward much more freight than the artificial harbours of Normandy, then to decide victory in the West. As of August 25, more than 500 000 men are on-site to sink towards North, in the valley of the Rhone. One month later, they will carry out their junction in Burgundy with those who unloaded in Normandy

4000 men - Americans, Canadians, English, French - left their life on these beaches to reconquer Provence and to continue the release of France started with the unloading of Normandy. A US barge was let remember it this moment on the western beach of the Cape Dramont, with little distance of the small port of Poussa´.
Posted Image
Posted Image


#2 appell8



  • + Paratrooper
  • 8,617 posts

Posted 28 July 2003 - 07:18 AM

Dominique, thank you for the essay and the photos. We have had little discussion of Anvil-Dragoon, and it is welcome. Thanks, Doug

#3 Guest_Max (UK)_*

Guest_Max (UK)_*
  • Spy

Posted 28 July 2003 - 07:59 AM

Hello Dominique

Thanks very much. I have to admit in my ignorance I had never even heard of it, which makes me feel terrible.

I wonder if it would be worth a section for....lesser known battles and deeds ? Or is there anything like that already....?

#4 DomR67



  • Sergeant
  • 62 posts

Posted 28 July 2003 - 09:02 AM

I don't know if such a section still exits, but there would be lot of unknown events to talk about.

#5 Etienne


    Honored by all who visit here. Rest in Peace.

  • Brigadier General
  • 728 posts

Posted 28 July 2003 - 10:34 AM

Great post, Dominique

This topic is worth confabulation, in length. A great operation overshadowed by the Normandy assault. The Axis forces had their hands full with the engagement to the North and West and this operation certainly took off some pressure in the Allied push towards Germany.

Italy was somewhat of a stalemate and a defensive battlefield and this was good use of forces from the Fifth Army.

On a side note: On August 29, 1944, during the invasion of southern France, Marines from the USS Augusta and the cruiser USS Philadelphia went ashore in Marseilles harbor to accept the surrender of more than 700 Germans who had fortified island garrisons. Coastal Battery fire took its toll of the Allied Fleet during the engagement.

The local: http://plasma.nation...text=Marseilles

#6 Locky



  • Sergeant
  • 55 posts

Posted 28 July 2003 - 11:17 AM

Nice Job Dominique,

I think that there is too little of this particular action known , i saw a documentary on the anzio/italy campaign on the history channel last week , and it covered the topic of "Anvil/Dragoon" very well , but left me wanting to know more...

I marked this site for anyone who wants to have a look , its quite informative


I dont know why there was so much opposition to it at the time , it makes sense to me.........and what do i know!! :D

#7 Kiwiwriter


    Lord of the Weasels

  • + Paratrooper
  • 7,603 posts

Posted 28 July 2003 - 12:06 PM

Anvil-Dragoon does get ignored, except for the controversy over its launching, which is a disgrace.

The US Army didn't come up with the official history volume for that campaign until 1992!

I intend to try to rectify that in my series, if possible.

Some trivial points I have learned:

The bombardment force included British gunboats that came all the way from the pre-war Yangtze River Flotilla.

The British escort carriers were commanded by Australia's Rear Adm. Frank Getting, who had commanded HMAS Australia in the Guadalcanal campaign.

The French battleship Lorraine and light cruisers Montcalm and Georges Leygues were on the bombardment line. The latter were at D-Day. They avoided the holocaust of Toulon because they sat out the first three years of the war with Richelieu at Dakar. Lorraine was parked in Alexandria.

Churchill, frustrated at not getting to watch D-Day, was on HMS Kimberley to watch this invasion. He wasn't happy with it, but was impressed with the professionalism of the invasion.

The "Devil's Brigade" participated in the assault.

A provisional airborne division was created for it as well, under Gen. Robert Frederick, who led the Devil's Brigade. It included the British 2nd Parachute Brigade and American parachute regiments, including one that joined the 17th Airborne in time for the Varsity drop.

The American invaders included the 45th Infantry and the famous 3rd Infantry Division.

#8 jimary



  • Court Martialed
  • 377 posts

Posted 28 July 2003 - 03:52 PM

Operation Anvil-Dragoon. Just some additions to what was already discussed.
1. The US invasion force was composed of the US VI Corps with three US divisions (3d, 36th and 45th).
2. This web site includes some discussion of what British Naval Forces were allocated to the invasion.
South, France, Landings, Anvil, Dragoon, Cunningham, RN, invasion
... Naval Control, Attack & Convoy Escort Forces, British & Allied. French. USA. Battleships, 1. 1. 3. Cruisers, 7. 5. 8. Destroyers & escorts, 27. 19. 52. Other warships, 69. 6. 157. ...
3. The US airborne units are listed below. The British airborne forces included the 4th, 5th & 6th Para Bns and 1st Indian Pathfinders.
Date: 15 August 1944
Unit: 1st Abn. Task Force (460th PFA, 463rd PFABn.; 509th PIB; 517th PCT; 551st PIB; 596th PCT Eng. Co.) (Dropping of 300 paratroop dummies, prior to landing)
Operation: Anvil Dragoon (Rugby)
Troopers: 5,607
Country: France
Dropzone: Cote d' Azur, Riviera
4. The 1st Special Service Force (Devil's Brigade) attacked and seized the islands of Port Cros and Levant which allowed the invasion force to land with minimal problems.
5. The French Commandos were responsible for seizing German gun positions to the north of the landing forces. They were successful.
6. Of interest is the 551st PIB which would later be attached to the 82d Airborne during the Battle of the Bulge. The unit suffered horrendous casualties and was deactivated in Feb 45 with the survivors being assigned to the 82d Airborne Division and the 18th Airborne Corps (US).
6. I have included some web sites about the 551st PIB (GOYA) because of what happened to it while it was attached to the 82d Airborne Division.

History for 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion
... known. Many credit the belated recognition to Gregory Orfalea, a District
resident whose father served with the 551st. Pvt. Aref ...

ARMY Article: The Last Battle, April 2001
... The campaign was buoyed by the release of a book about the 551st (Messengers of the Lost Battalion) written by Gregory Orfalea, the son of a battalion veteran. ...

Lost World War II Battalion
... as the "lost battalion." Gregory Orfalea (whose father rarely talked of his war experiences) began interviewing other members of the 551st, which suffered some ...

Nouvelle page 6
... Coming by trucks from their garrison camp at Laon (near Reims, France), the 551st
PIB arrived at Werbomont during the night of the 20th to the 21st of December ...


Edited by jimary, 28 July 2003 - 03:54 PM.

#9 DomR67



  • Sergeant
  • 62 posts

Posted 29 July 2003 - 01:44 AM

Thank you jimary for the links. Very interesting

#10 appell8



  • + Paratrooper
  • 8,617 posts

Posted 29 July 2003 - 08:07 AM

Through mutual friends, I have talked with Greg Orfalea. His is a dark, dark, take on the experience of his father's unit, the Goyas. It contrasts in tone with most first-person WWII memoirs, and he wrote it with a sense of mission. But it also takes us to some unusual settings for such memoirs, such as Panama, and the Alpine flanks of Anvil-Dragoon.

An important potential "lessons learned" from his book is the fate of "orphan" units which become attached to a divisional structure where they're strangers. Orfalea says that that outsider status caused his father's battalion to get the short end of the stick repeatedly from higher command. I don't know if that's borne out by independent history, but, if true, that would be consistent with human nature. Interesting issue for historical, and contemporary military organization, discussion.

Thanks for all the info, guys.

#11 jimary



  • Court Martialed
  • 377 posts

Posted 29 July 2003 - 02:19 PM

Both Gavin and Taylor wanted these "singular" airborne battalions eliminated and their personnel transferred to the airborne divisions. These separate battaions were a drain on the airborne pipeline and at this stage in war, the replacements for these units would be better used in the divisions. In many cases, the establishment of these separate airborne units was a knee jerk reaction to what was happening in the early phases of the war. The 551st was established and then sent to Panama to protect the canal and to be used in the Caribbean (eg. Martinique) in case they went towards the Axis side. This scenario never happened so the 551st became a unit without a real mission but no one wanted to eliminate the unit and send its personnel to other airborne divisions either in ETO or the Pacific. Before going to ETO, the 551st want to Fort Bragg and became a "test" unit. It was here that it received its first casualties when several soldiers drowned in a night training exercise. The 82d Airborne regiment that the 551st was attached too in the Bulge was commanded by a colonel who at one time was the battalion commander of the 551st (between Joerge Woods times as commander). He was disliked by the men when he was the 551st Commander. The military has always used cross transfer of units from one unit to another. Many times, some of these units are outside the normal command structure but are attached for a particular mission. What happened to the 551st was tragic but what made it worse was as if someone had just erased them from history. The unit and its personnel just disappeared as if they never existed. The unit performed its mission and was destroyed in the process (Bn Cdr killed, most of the company officers killed, wounded or sick with frost bite or trench foot, inadequate artillery support (the unit had moved out of the supporting artillery's firing fan), short rations, crappy weather and inadequate cold weather clothing). I don't think higher HQs gave the 551st the "short end of the stick" (just like Easy Company, 506th complaints). IMHO

#12 Firemedic72



  • Major
  • 215 posts

Posted 07 August 2003 - 09:51 AM

Great info on a little known operation. I have been studying it as my I will be honeymooning in the South of France. As patient as my fiance is with my hobby, she drew the line at traipsing over France and Belgium. But, when I suggested a romantic honeymoon in the lovely south of France, she happily agreed......

#13 Elly



  • Major
  • 530 posts

Posted 24 August 2003 - 06:13 PM

Wow! I'm overwhelmed by this in-depth of information of an operation I didn't know anything about! Thanks Dominique and everyone else for providing your knowledge on this interesting topic! I learn something new all the time! Also, great photos Dominique!


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users