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Operation Dragoon

Some 70 km of coastline, between Cavalaire-sur-Mer (17 km from St Tropez) and Saint Raphaël, are regularly intersperced with monuments that commemorate the Allied landings in Provence during World War II.

Ten weeks after the Normandy landings, the Allies launched a second invasion of Nazi-occupied France, this time from the Mediterranean Sea. Unlike Operation Overlord in Normandy, the airborne and seaborne assault of August 15, 1944 — code-named Operation Dragoon — was launched in an area with relatively few German soldiers, and consequently, General Alexander Patch's one French and three American divisions (1000 ships, 3000 aircraft, and 300,000 troops) encountered little opposition and suffered few casualties and setbacks.

The landing areas secured, the Americans and French captured Toulon and Marseille within two weeks. They then swiftly headed North, up the Rhône Valley (capturing Lyon on September 3), to join with the larger Overlord armies in a pincer movement (on September 11, less than a month after the landings). From there, the combined Allied armies set out to strike against the Siegfried Line which defended Hitler's Third Reich.

© Erik Svane