3rd Infantry Division – (Anvil-Dragoon) – Aug 15 44 / Sep 1 1944


The preliminary planning for Operation (Anvil) Dragoon (note : Operation code named ‘Anvil’ was later changed to Operation code named ‘Dragoon’ because it was believed that the original name had been compromised), was for an operation to be conducted in conjunction with Operation Overlord which was scheduled for early May, 1944. The plan envisaged a lift for an assault of either two or three divisions with a planned build up to a total of ten divisions.

The forces involved were to be American and French, but no definite strengths of units were defined. Initially, the headquarters planning the operation was designated [Force 163]. The preliminary planning was based on several assumptions. These assumptions were :

– (1) – the Italian campaign would be the only offensive operation that the Mediterranean Theater would be involved in;
– (2) – the internal security of North Africa would not limit the number of American and French Divisions available;
– (3) – Overlord would take place prior to any other amphibious landing.

The initial planning for Operation Anvil stressed the need for the planners to remain flexible. A lot of questions remained unanswered such as the assault divisions available, the influence of the Italian Campaign and the objectives in Southern France after the landing. Priorities at this time were concerned with Operation Overlord. At times it appeared that Operation Anvil would not go at all. Initial outline plans were developed by Allied Force Headquarters, however, no commitments were made and no orders had been issued. The initial outline plans called for the early capture of a major port. The port of Toulon was considered temporarily adequate, but the port of Marseilles was to be the major base.

Initially, the areas of beaches considered most desirable were those of the Rade d’Hyères with the beaches of Cavalaire as the alternative site. However, after Gen Alexander Patch assumed command of the Seventh Army on March 19 1944, several key changes were made to the AFHO Outline Flans. The key objective was to make a successful landing and then secure a beachhead that would facilitate further operations as dictated by the mission. The joint planners considered the Rade d’ Hyères as undesirable and agreed that an assault in the area located between Cavalaire and Agay as the most desirable. Among the several reasons for this change were : that the Rade d’Hyères area was heavily defended, the assault beaches would be within range of coastal guns around Toulon, approaches were heavily mined and this congested area would hinder the maneuverability of our gunfire support ships. The Cavalaire – Agav area, because of the enemy defenses and dispositions, fewer enemy mines and coastal batteries, its good to moderate beaches, and its ability to support our forces, was selected.

Initial Plan

US VI CorpsUS 3-IDDuring the entire planning process, the enemy situation continued to change; thus, plans were altered as required. The planning process, as far as resources available, was often confused because of changes in target dates, ports to be used and units to be available. The Italian Campaign and logistical considerations were the key factors for not arriving at firm plans. AFHO directed on February 29 1944 that planning proceed on the assumption that forces available would be three US infantry divisions, five French infantry or mountain divisions, and two French armored divisions; and that the operations would be postponed a month until approximately July 1 1944. Gen Eisenhower recommended that Anvil-Dragoon be launched no later than August 30 with a preferable target date of August 15. Three assault divisions were nominated by June 24, with the US VI Corps to be the assault Corps headquarters.

US 36-IDUS 45-IDThe American units were to be the 3-ID, 36-ID, and the 45-ID. The participation of French forces in Operation Anvil was an interesting facet. The French believed that they should command the southern invasion. A key element here was national pride and honor for the French Army. However, after meetings between Gen De Gaulle and Gen Wilson, a satisfactory agreement was found and a French Army Headquarters was worked into the Anvil-Dragoon Operation. A primary factor in the initial planning was that with lack of definite guidance and decisions the joint planners were about to develop detailed plans covering a variety of assumptions. The planners were extremely flexible, which allowed them to react to many changes.

Final Plan – Choice of the Landing Areas

Because of the detailed planning performed initially, there was little confusion or delay in the final planning once higher headquarters gave the go-ahead for the Operation. It was during the final planning phase that the code name was changed from Anvil to Dragoon. The final plan called for VI US Corps (Kodak Force), consisting of three US divisions and the French Armored Combat Command Sudre, to assault the beaches at H-hour on D-day and to capture Le Muy. They would extend the beachhead and secure the airfield sites in the Argens valley against ground observed artillery fire. They were then to continue the attack to the north and northwest, after reorganization.

The First Airborne Task Force (Rugby Force) was to land in Le Muy at about first light on D-day and prevent any enemy movement into the assault area from Le Muy and Le Luc. The 1st Special Service Force (Sitka Force) was to assault the islands of Port-Cros and the Ile du Levant during darkness at H minus 1 on D-day, with particular emphasis to destroy the enemy coastal battery on the east end of Ile du Levant. The French Commando Group (Romeo Force) was to land in darkness on H minus 1 on D-day to destroy coastal defenses in the vicinity of Cap Nègre, block the coastal highway, and then seize the high ground in the vicinity of Biscarre (La Môle). A demolition party from the French Naval Assault Group (Rosie Force) was to land near Le Trayas on the night of D minus 1 and execute demolitions on the Cannes – Saint-Raphaël and Cannes – Fréjus roads. The II French Corps (Garbo Force) was to debark after D-day within the established beachhead area then pass through Kodak Force, capture Toulon and prepare to advance to the north and northwest.
The naval plan called for the establishment of the Seventh Army ashore and to support its advance westward. It was to be responsible for the army build-up and maintenance on the beaches until after the capture and utilization of ports. The air plan was broken down into four phases : air offensive operations prior to D minus 5; the period D minus 5 to D-day minus 0350 hours; the period D-day minus 0350 hours to H-hour, and the period after H-hour.

Logistic Planning

As Erwin Rommel is said to have observed, the battle is fought and decided by quartermasters before the shooting begins. This thought was never closer to being applicable than in the case of Operation Dragoon. The logistics planning was plagued with the uncertainty of the operation and was characterized by insufficient, changing information on which to base requirements. In order to gain a flavor of the planning of the operation and establish a base line for comparison, we can begin in mid-December 1943, as the Service of Supply, North African Theater of Operations United States Army (SOS-NATOUSA) is informed of a proposed operation. The operational concept was for 450.000 men of three US infantry divisions, five French infantry divisions, and 2 French armored divisions to invade Southern France on 1 Jun 1944.

The planning staffs found themselves facing uncertainty and a lack of time. After receiving information as to the impending operation, the Commander SOS-NATOUSA first warned his supporting logistic organization. New York Port of Embarkation (NYPOE) of anticipated requirements on 15 Jan 1944. Three days later, actual requisitions for bulk supplies were submitted. This action was virtually imperative since the conservative estimate of order-arrival time was 98 days. The June 1 target date just allowed sufficient time for the accumulation of necessary stores. Supply requirements were based solely on the initial guidance of force structure and composition. A troop list with any details would not be available for another two months. Almost from the beginning, shipping plagued the planners. Dragoon as an operation had been relegated a distant backseat to Overlord, but of equal priority with the Italian Campaign. On several occasions, the type forces and the date of attack would be changed or cancelled because of a lack of shipping of landing craft. Of continuing concern was the requirement to increase the number of Liberty ships involved because of a lack of assault shipping.

On April 14, the entire operation was cancelled by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, resulting in the cancellation of all outstanding requisitions with the NYPOE; however, 208.000 long tons had been received of the 260.000 requisitioned prior to this. At this time, SOS-NATOUSA. with the concurrence of the Seventh Army, froze those stocks that had been received for use in Special Operations. The theater operated as if these supplies did not exist for the most part. Needless to say that the War Department took exception to this and ordered the release of stocks for normal consumption.
This was not complied with in time for it to have any practical adverse effect. Dragoon and Task Force 163 remained top priority within the theater. The Combined Chiefs of Staff made the decision to conduct Operation Dragoon on June 12. Field Marshall Wilson. the Theater Commander, received his instructions on July 2. SOS-NATOUSA received the responsibility to support the US Seventh Army when activated. In fulfillment of this mission, all loading instructions for the first six, phases of the operation (30 days) were prepared in detail to enable requisitions to be distributed by sub-task force, on the proper ship, for the designated beach. Each increment of supply was five days, based on a shipping turn around cycle of five days.

Operation Dragoon – Dramont Beach

The maintenance of two large operations in the same theater (Fifth Army in Italy and Seventh Army readying for Southern France) certainly caused conflicts in support. For example, nearly everything, from communications to service troops had to be shared by the two armies, frequently in a manner unsatisfactory to both. However, the fact remains that only telephone wire was considered critical and not likely to be on hand at the time of the invasion. As is the case in all plans, the planner must make some assumptions from which to establish a framework for other actions. Dragoon was no exception The Ports of Toulon and Marseille were seen as required before any northward exploitation. This was estimated to happen by D plus 40 and subsequent progress north would be slow. These assumptions certainly affected both logistic planning for the assault and its execution. Again, with time growing short, the troop list had grown to 521.858 troops and 100.576 vehicles. These were scheduled for landing prior to D plus 60. This resulting 14% increase caused SOS-NATOUSA to effect increased shipments in order to maintain a twenty day reserve and a ten day operating level.

Logistical support for all forces was planned to come over the beaches until D plus 20. This mission was in the hands of a beach group attached to each assault division. A beach group or Special Engineer Brigade organizationally corrected faulty unsatisfactory operation of beach unloading encountered during earlier amphibious operations. It was conceived by the Engineer School in the United States and successfully used in the Pacific Theater of Operations. The beach group used for Dragoon was a direct descendant of these specialized organizations. Their organization consisted of an Engineer Combat Regiment as a nucleus with necessary service troops and naval personnel attached. This placed responsibility for beach organization, operation, and coordination with a single unit and enabled the rapid receipt and onward movement of men, material, and equipment. In addition to the normally discerned tasks it also unloaded shims, operated supply dumps, evacuated casualties, and handled prisoners of war.

Note about the sources of this Dragoon Assault Group Order of Battle. Historians knows how difficult it is to compile all the data to create an exhaustive Order of Battle. This first shot of this roster has been made while using my own archives. Also to be cited is a large part of Rahul Sharma’s Roster which I added to mine Listing. Rahul is working hard to gain his MBA and is a publisher on Alchetron. Some Information also comes from the Wikipedia Platform were lot of writers and historians goes to pick up the last coma.

Troop List – Operation Dragoon,
Organization for Combat

Seventh Army

Lt Gen Alexander Patch
Detachment, Army HQ & HQ Company & Special Troops
Detachment, HQ Seventh Army (Beach Control HQ)

1st Airborne Task Force

Brig Gen Robert T. Frederick
HQ & HQ Company, 1st Airborne Task Force
517th Parachute Infantry Regiment
509th Parachute Infantry Battalion
550th Airborne Infantry Battalion (Glider)
1/551st Parachute Infantry Regiment (Reinforced)
460th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion
463rd Airborne Field Artillery Battalion
602d Glider Field Artillery Battalion (75-MM How)
596th Airborne Engineer Company
887th Airborne Engineer Aviation Company
512th Airborne Signal Company
552nd AT Company
Able, 2d Chemical Mortar Battalion
Able, 83d Chemical Mortar Battalion
645th Tank Destroyer Battalion
676th Medical Collecting Company
Provisional Airborne MP Platoon
Provisional Pathfinder Detachment
172nd Detail Issues Depot British Heavy Aerial Resupply Company
334th Quartermaster Depot Company(-)
3358th Quartermaster Truck Company
Detachment, 3rd OD Company (Medium Maintenance)
British 4th Parachute Battalion
British 5th (Scottish) Parachute Battalion
British 6th (Royal Welch) Parachute Battalion
British 127th (Parachute) Field Ambulance
300th Air Landing AT Battery Royal Artillery
64th Air Landing Battery Royal Artillery
2nd Parachute Squadron Royal Engineers
2nd Independent Parachute Brigade Group Signal Company Royal Signals
1st Independent Glider Squadron Army Air Corps
23rd Independent Platoon Army Air Corps (Pathfinders)
2nd Independent Parachute Brigade Group Company Royal Army Service Corps
751st Parachute Brigade Company Royal Army Service Corps
T Company Royal Army Service Corps
2nd Independent Parachute Brigade Group Workshop Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
2nd Independent Parachute Brigade Group Provost Section Royal Military Police
US-Canadian 1st Special Service Force(-)
French Groupe de Commandos (-)


Dog, (rem Map Plat), 378th Engineer Battalion (Separate)
697th Engineer Petroleum Distribution Company
Mobile Laboratory, 701st Engineer Petroleum Distribution Company
Survey Platoon, 649th Engineer Topographic Battalion
Able, Engineer Camouflage Battalion
1202nd Engineer Fire Fighting Platoon
1204th Engineer Fire Fighting Platoon
1711th Engineer Map Depot Detachment
Special Platoon, 460th Engineer Depot Company

Military Police

204th Military Police Company
372d Military Police Escort Guard Company
377th Military Police Escort Guard Company (-3 Sections)
504th Military Police Battalion (-2 Companies)
HQ & HQ Detachment, 759th Military Police Battalion


1st Advance Section, 7th Medical Depot Company


94th Quartermaster Railhead Company (-2 Platoons)
138th Quartermaster Truck Company
144th Quartermaster Truck Company
Detachment, 202nd Quartermaster Car Company (-)
HQ & HQ Detachment, 528th Quartermaster Battalion
3357th Quartermaster Truck Company


Army Signal Battalion
226th Signal Operation Company
Detachment, 163rd Signal Photo Company
982nd Signal Service Company


Detachment, 72nd Liaison Squadron
11th Postal Regulating Unit
Special Service Staff (OSS)
28 Port Cos and 7 Battalion HQ Detachments

VI Corps

Maj Gen Lucian K. Truscott, Jr.
HQ & HQ Company, VI Corps

Combat Command

Combat Command Sudre, 1st French Armored
Maj Gen Aimé M. Sudre
Attached :
– 1st Co, 9th Regt Chasseurs d’Afrique
– Det, 2/661 Co (OD) Reparation Engins Blindes
– 66th Ammo Co (-)
– Det, 705th Co, Fuel Supply

Field Artillery

HQ & HQ Battery, VI Corps Artillery
HQ & HQ Battery, 6th Field Artillery Group
HQ & HQ Battery, 35th Field Artillery Group
HQ & HQ Battery, 36th Field Artillery Group
2nd Field Artillery Observation Battalion
36th Field Artillery Battalion (155-MM GUN)
59th Field Artillery Battalion (SP)(105-MM HOW)
69th Field Artillery Battalion (SP)(105-MM HOW)
93rd Field Artillery Battalion (SP)(105-MM HOW)
141st Field Artillery Battalion (155-MM HOW)
634th Field Artillery Battalion (155-MM HOW)
937th Field Artillery Battalion (155-MM HOW)
938th Field Artillery Battalion (155-MM HOW)
976th Field Artillery Battalion (155-MM GUN)
977th Field Artillery Battalion (155-MM GUN)

Anti Aircraft Artillery

HQ & HQ Battery, 35th Antiaircraft Artillery Brigade
HQ & HQ Battery, 5th Antiaircraft Artillery Group
HQ & HQ Battery, 68th Antiaircraft Artillery Group
HQ & HQ Battery, 105th Antiaircraft Artillery Group
68th Antiaircraft Artillery Gun Battalion (Mobile)
72nd Antiaircraft Artillery Gun Battalion (Mobile)
106th Antiaircraft Artillery (AW) Battalion (SP)
107th Antiaircraft Artillery (AW) Battalion (Mobile)
108th Antiaircraft Artillery Gun Battalion (Mobile)
216th Antiaircraft Artillery Gun Battalion (Mobile)
433rd Antiaircraft Artillery (AW) Battalion (Mobile)
441st Antiaircraft Artillery (AW) Battalion (SP)
443rd Antiaircraft Artillery (AW) Battalion (SP)
451st Antiaircraft Artillery (AW) Battalion (Mobile)
534th Antiaircraft Artillery (AW) Battalion (Mobile)
895th Antiaircraft Artillery (AW) Battalion (Mobile)
102nd Antiaircraft Artillery Barrage Balloon Battery (VLA)
103rd Antiaircraft Artillery Barrage Balloon Battery (VLA)
104th Antiaircraft Artillery Barrage Balloon Battery (VLA)


191st Tank Battalion
753rd Tank Battalion
756th Tank Battalion

Tank Destroyer

601st Tank Destroyer Battalion
636th Tank Destroyer Battalion
645th Tank Destroyer Battalion


117th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron


2nd Chemical Battalion Motorized (-1 Co)
3rd Chemical Battalion Motorized
83rd Chemical Battalion Motorized (-1 Co)
6th Chemical Depot Company
11th Chemical Maintenance Company
21st Chemical Decontamination Company (-3 Plats) (Smoke)


343rd Engineer General Service Regiment
344th Engineer General Service Regiment
Charlie, (Bailey Bridge), 378th Engineer Battalion (Separate)
Dog, (Treadway Bridge), 378th Engineer Battalion (Separate)
1st Plat, 424th Engineer Dump Truck Company
Contact Platoon, 469th Engineer Maintenance Company
Survey Platoon, 661st Engineer Topographic Company
6617th Engineer Mine Clearance Company

Military Police

206th Military Police Company

2nd Auxiliary Surgical Group
14 General Surgical Teams
3 Shock Teams
1 Gas Team
3 Orthopedic Teams
2 Thoracic Teams
2 Neurosurgery Teams
3 Dental Prosthetic Teams
2 Maxillofacial Teams
10th Field Hospital
6703rd Blood Transfusion Unit
11th Field Hospital
11th Evacuation Hospital (Semimobile) (400 bed)
93rd Evacuation Hospital (Semimobile) (400 bed)
95th Evacuation Hospital (Semimobile) (400 bed)


HQ & HQ Detachment, 43rd Ordnance Battalion
HQ & HQ Detachment, 44th Ordnance Battalion
HQ & HQ Detachment, 45th Ordnance Battalion
14th Ordnance Medium Maintenance Company
45th Ordnance Medium Maintenance Company
46th Ordnance Medium Maintenance Company
87th Ordnance Heavy Maintenance Company (Field Artillery)
261st Ordnance Medium Maintenance Company (Anti Aircraft)
3406th Ordnance Medium Automotive Maintenance Company
3408th Ordnance Medium Automotive Maintenance Company
3432nd Ordnance Medium Automotive Maintenance Company
64th Ordnance Ammunition Company
66th Ordnance Ammunition Company
680th Ordnance Ammunition Company
143rd Ordnance Bomb Disposal Squad
144th Ordnance Bomb Disposal Squad
145th Ordnance Bomb Disposal Squad
146th Ordnance Bomb Disposal Squad


46th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company (-1 Plat)
Platoon, 549th Quartermaster Laundry Company
3426th Quartermaster Truck Company


1st Signal Center Team
57th Signal Battalion
3201 SIS Detachment
4 Detachments, 163rd Signal Photo Company
Detachment A, 117th Radio Intelligence Company


3 Naval Combat Intelligence Teams
Naval Gunfire Liaison Personnel
15 Naval Shore Fire Control Parties

3rd Infantry Division

Major General John W. O’Daniel

Organic Units
– HHC & Special Troops, 3rd Infantry Division
– 3rd Military Police Platoon
– 3rd Signal Company
– 3rd Quartermaster Company
– 3rd Counter Intelligence Corps Detachment
– 3rd Mechanized Reconnaissance Troop
– 703rd Ordnance Light Maintenance Company
– 10th Engineer Combat Battalion
– 3rd Medical Battalion
– 7th Infantry Regiment
– 15th Infantry Regiment
– 30th Infantry Regiment
– HHB, 3rd Division Artillery
– 9th Field Artillery Battalion (105-MM HOW)
– 10th Field Artillery Battalion (105-MM HOW Howitzer)
– 39th Field Artillery Battalion (105-MM HOW)
– 41st Field Artillery Battalion (155-MM HOW)

3rd Infantry Division – Beach Group

36th Engineer Combat Regiment
1st Naval Beach Battalion
72nd Signal Company (Special)
Detachment, 207th Signal Depot Company
Detachment, 177th Signal Repair Company
HQ & HQ Detachment, 52nd Medical Battalion
376th Medical Collecting Company
377th Medical Collecting Company
378th Medical Collecting Company
682nd Medical Collecting Company
1st Plat & HQ Detachment, 616th Medical Clearing Company
Detachment, Boat Guards
157th Military Police Prisoner of War Detachment
706th Military Police Prisoner of War Detachment
790th Military Police Prisoner of War Detachment
Detachment, 377th Military Police Escort Guard Company
Able, 759th Military Police Battalion
1st Platoon, 21st Chemical Decontamination Company (Smoke)
Detachment, 63rd Chemical Depot Company
3rd Platoon, 450th Engineer Depot Company
69th Ordnance Ammunition Company
Detachment, 77th Ordnance Depot Company
Detachment, 977th Ordnance Depot Company
3407th Ordnance Medium Automotive Maintenance Company (DUKW)
6690th Regulating Company
HQ & HQ Detachment, 530th Quartermaster Battalion
4133rd Quartermaster Service Company
4134th Quartermaster Service Company
4135th Quartermaster Service Company
4136th Quartermaster Service Company
3277th Quartermaster Service Company
3357th Quartermaster Truck Company
3634th Quartermaster Truck Company
HQ & HQ Detachment, 52nd Quartermaster Battalion (Mobile)
3333rd Quartermaster Truck Company (DUKW)
3334th Quartermaster Truck Company (DUKW)
3325th Quartermaster Truck Company (DUKW)
3336th Quartermaster Truck Company (DUKW)
3353rd Quartermaster Truck Company (DUKW)
3355th Quartermaster Truck Company (DUKW)
Section, 3856th Quartermaster Gas Supply Company
1 Platoon, 93rd Quartermaster Railhead Company
332nd Air Force Beach Detail
111th Beach Section, RAF

36th Infantry Division

Major General John E. Dahlquist

Organic Units

HHC & Special Troops, 36th Infantry Division
36th Military Police Platoon
36th Signal Company
36th Quartermaster Company
36th Counter Intelligence Corps Detachment
36th Mechanized Reconnaissance Troop
736th Ordnance Light Maintenance Company
111th Engineer Combat Battalion
111th Medical Battalion
141st Infantry Regiment
142nd Infantry Regiment
143rd Infantry Regiment
HHB, 36th Division Artillery
131st Field Artillery Battalion (105-MM HOW)
132nd Field Artillery Battalion (105-MM HOW)
133rd Field Artillery Battalion (105-MM HOW)
155th Field Artillery Battalion (155-MM HOW)

36th Infantry Division – Beach Group

540th Engineer Combat Regiment
48th Engineer Combat Battalion
8th Naval Beach Battalion
74th Signal Company (Special)
Detachment, 207th Signal Depot Company
Detachment, 177th Signal Repair Company
HQ & HQ Detachment, 56th Medical Battalion
885th Medical Collecting Company
886th Medical Collecting Company
887th Medical Collecting Company
891st Medical Clearing Company
1st Platoon, 638th Clearing Company
Charlie, 759th Military Police Battalion
1 Section, 377th Prisoner of War Escort Guard Company
Detachment, Boat Guards
192nd Provisional Military Police Prisoner of War Detachment
601st Provisional Military Police Prisoner of War Detachment
3rd Platoon, 21st Chemical Decontamination Company (Smoke)
Detachment, 63rd Chemical Depot Company
1st Platoon, 450th Engineer Depot Company
603rd Ordnance Ammunition Company
Detachment, 77th Ordnance Depot Company
Detachment, 977th Ordnance Depot Company
3405th Ordnance Medium Automotive Maintenance Company (DUKW)
Detachment, 6690th Regulating Company
1 Section, 3894th Quartermaster Gas Supply Company
2nd Platoon, 94th Quartermaster Railhead Co
HQ & HQ Detachment, 53rd Quartermaster Battalion (Mobile)
3337th Quartermaster Truck Company (DUKW)
3338th Quartermaster Truck Company (DUKW)
3339th Quartermaster Truck Company (DUKW)
3340th Quartermaster Truck Company (DUKW)
3354th Quartermaster Truck Company (DUKW)
3356th Quartermaster Truck Company (DUKW)
HQ & HQ Detachment, 259th Quartermaster Battalion
3286th Quartermaster Service Company
3287th Quartermaster Service Company
3288th Quartermaster Service Company
3289th Quartermaster Service Company
3299th Quartermaster Service Company
3300th Quartermaster Service Company
3427th Quartermaster Truck Company
3360th Quartermaster Truck Company
Air Force Beach Detail
111th Brick Section, RAF

45th Infantry Division

Major General William W. Eagles

Organic units

HHC & Special Troops, 45th Infantry Division
45th Military Police Platoon
45th Signal Company
45th Quartermaster Company
45th Counter Intelligence Corps Detachment
45th Mechanized Reconnaissance Troop
700th Ordnance Light Maintenance Company
120th Engineer Combat Battalion
120th Medical Battalion
157th Infantry Regiment
179th Infantry Regiment
180th Infantry Regiment
HHB, 45th Division Artillery
158th Field Artillery Battalion (105-MM HOW)
160th Field Artillery Battalion (105-MM HOW)
171st Field Artillery Battalion (105-MM HOW)
189th Field Artillery Battalion (155-MM HOW)

45th Infantry Division – Beach Group

40th Engineer Combat Regiment
4th Naval Beach Battalion
71st Signal Company (Special)
Detachment, 207th Signal Depot Company
Detachment, 177th Signal Repair Company
HQ & HQ Detachment, 58th Medical Battalion
388th Medical Collecting Company
389th Medical Collecting Company
390th Medical Collecting Company
514th Medical Clearing Company
2nd Platoon, 616th Clearing Company
Baker, 759th Military Police Battalion
1 Section, 377th Prisoner of War Escort Guard Company
Detachment, Boat Guards
133rd Provisional Prisoner of War Detachment
175th Provisional Prisoner of War Detachment
191st Provisional Prisoner of War Detachment
3rd Platoon, 21st Chemical Decontamination Company (Smoke)
Detachment, 63rd Chemical Depot Company
2nd Platoon, 450th Engineer Depot Company
682nd Ordnance Ammunition Company
Detachment, 77th Ordnance Depot Company
Detachment, 977th Ordnance Depot Company
3487th Ordnance Medium Automotive Maintenance Company (DUKW)
3633rd Quartermaster Truck Company
Detachment, 6690th Regulating Company
HQ & HQ Detachment, 147th Quartermaster Battalion (Mobile)
829th Amphibian Truck Company
830th Amphibian Truck Company
831st Amphibian Truck Company
832nd Amphibian Truck Company
1 Section, 3894th Quartermaster Gas Supply Company
HQ & HQ Detachment, 240th Quartermaster Battalion
3250th Quartermaster Service Company
3251st Quartermaster Service Company
3252nd Quartermaster Service Company
3253rd Quartermaster Service Company
4053rd Quartermaster Service Company
Platoon, 94th Quartermaster Railhead Company
3425th Quartermaster Truck Company
Air Force Beach Detail
110th Beach Section, RAF

French Air Force Patrouille de France release trails of blue, white and red smoke, the colors of French national flag during the ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of the ‘Operation Dragoon’ landings in Provence on the French aircraft carrier ‘Charles de Gaulle’, in Toulon, France, 15 August 2014.

Groupe French Army B

Gen Jean de Lattre de Tassigny
– HQ & HQ Co French Army B 162/27 (-)

French Second Army Corps

Gen Edgard de Larminat
– HQ & HQ Co, Second Army Corps 75


1st French March Infantry Division
– Gen Diego Brosset
1st French Armored Division (-2 CC)
– Gen Jean Touzet du Vigier
3rd French (Algerian) Infantry Division
– Gen Joseph de Goislard de Monsabert
9th French (Colonial) Infantry Division)
– Brig Gen Joseph Magnan
2nd French (Algerian Spahis) Recon Regiment
1st French Group (Tabors Morocco)
3rd French Group (Tabors Morocco)
4th French Group (Tabors Morocco)

Field Artillery

HQs French Artillery Group
# 1 Detachment, 1st Field Artillery Observation Battalion (US)
1st French Colonial (Levant) Artillery Regiment
3rd Group, 65th French Artillery Regiment

Anti Aircraft Artillery

Detachment, HQ & HQ Battery, 34th AAA Brigade (US)
62nd AAA Gun Battalion (US)
Detachment, HQ & HQ Battery, 80th AAA Group (US)
893rd AAA (AW) Battalion (SM)

Tank Destroyer
French Chasseurs d’Afrique

7th Regiment (Chasseurs d’Afrique)
3th Regiment (Chasseurs d’Afrique)


Engineer Topographic Company # 31
101st Engineer Regiment

Military Police

521st Company Highway Regulation
2nd Company, 11th Group of the Garde


401st Evacuation Hospital, Reanimation, Blood Transfusion # 413/3
405th Evacuation Hospital
432nd Medical Battalion
451/1 Advanced Depot
422nd Field Hospital


HQ 651st Ordnance Battalion
Company 652/1 Light Maintenance (Equipment)
Company 652/2 Light Maintenance (Vehicles)
Company 652/3 Light Maintenance (Vehicles)
64th Ammunition Company
65th Ammunition Company


1st Battalion, 8th Regiment Pioneers (Tirailleurs Sénégalais)
Mess & Supply # 323
Mess & Supply # 325
Supply Company (Fuel)


61st Communication Battalion (Army Corps)
6693rd Signal Detachment (Provisional) (US)
3 Detachments, 163rd Signal Photo Company (US)
806th Construction Battalion
Detachment, Group Army B
Exploit Company 827/1
Radio Listening Unit 828
Military Telegraphy Group 829
Transmissions Detachment 810
Transmissions & Technical Detachment 841


11th Company, Transport Group 501

Mediterranean Allied Tactical Air Force

Maj Gen John K. Cannon

XII Tactical Air Command

Brig Gen Gordon P. Saville

1st Fighter Group (P-38 Lightning) (on loan to MATAF 12–20 August 1944)
14th Fighter Group (P-38 Lightning) (on loan to MATAF 12–20 August 1944)
27th Fighter Group (P-47 Thunderbolt)
57th Operations Group (P-47 Thunderbolt)
79th Fighter Group (P-47 Thunderbolt)
86th Fighter Group (P-47 Thunderbolt)
324th Fighter Group (P-47 Thunderbolt)
# 251 Wing RAF (Supermarine Spitfire IX)
# 322 Wing RAF (Supermarine Spitfire IX)
# 324 Wing RAF (Supermarine Spitfire IX)
47th Bombardment Group (Douglas A-20 Havoc)
111th Reconnaissance Squadron (F-6A Mustang)
415th Night Fighter Squadron (Beaufighter VI)
# 225 Squadron RAF (Spitfire V)
II/33 Escadrille (Spitfire V)
Quartieme Escadre (P-47 Thunderbolt)
57th Bombardment Wing
310th Bombardment Group (B-25 Mitchell)
321st Bombardment Group (B-25 Mitchell)
340th Bombardment Group (B-25 Mitchell)
5th Reconnaissance Squadron (F-5 Lightning)
23rd Reconnaissance Squadron (F-5 Lightning)
# 682 Squadron RAF (Supermarine Spitfire XI)
42nd Bombardment Wing
17th Bombardment Group (B-26 Marauder)
319th Bombardment Group (B-26 Marauder)
320th Bombardment Group (B-26 Marauder)
31e Escadre (B-26 Marauder)
31st Fighter Group P-51 Mustang (Escorts / Airborne)
325th Fighter Group P-51 Mustang (Escorts / Airborne)

Air Vice-Marshal Hugh Lloyd

63rd Fighter Wing
# 326 (GC 2/7 Nice) (Spitfire V and IX)
# 327 (GC 1/3 Corse) (Spitfire IX)
# 328 (GC 1/7 Provence) (Spitfire V and IX)
417th Night Fighter Squadron (Beaufighter VI)
VOC-01 (F6F Hellcat)(TBF Avenger)
350th Fighter Group
345th Fighter Squadron (P-39 Airacobra)
346th Fighter Squadron (P-39 Airacobra)
347th Fighter Squadron (P-39 Airacobra)
# 272 Squadron RAF (Beaufighter X)
414th Night Fighter Squadron (Beaufighter VI)
# 256 Squadron RAF (Mosquito XII and XIII)
# 153 Squadron RAF (Beaufighter VI)
# 458 Squadron RAAF (Wellington XIV)
# 36 Squadron RAF (Wellington XIV)
# 17 Squadron SAAF (Ventura V)
# 45 Squadron (Supermarine Walrus)
# 14 Squadron RAF (Marauder I, II and III)

Provisional Troop Carrier Air Division

Brig Gen Paul L. Williams

50th Troop Carrier Wing (C-47 Skytrain)
439th Troop Carrier Group
440th Troop Carrier Group
441st Troop Carrier Group
442d Troop Carrier Group
51st Troop Carrier Wing (C-47 Skytrain)
60th Troop Carrier Group
62nd Troop Carrier Group
64th Troop Carrier Group
53rd Troop Carrier Wing (C-47 Skytrain)
435th Troop Carrier Group
436th Troop Carrier Group
437th Troop Carrier Group
438th Troop Carrier Group

Generaloberst Johannes Blaskowitz
– Army Group G

General der Infanterie Georg von Sodenstern
– Nineteenth Army

General der Infanterie Friedrich Wiese
– IV Luftwaffe Field Corps
– 716th Infantry Division
– 198th Infantry Division
– 189th Infantry Division
– LXXXV Army Corps

General der Infanterie Baptist Kneiss
– 338th Infantry Division

Generalleutnant René l’Homme de Courbiére
– 244th Infantry Division

Generalleutnant Hans Schaefer
– LXII Reserve Army Corps

General der Infanterie Ferdinand Neuling
– 242nd Infantry Division

Generalleutnant Johannes Baessler
– 148th Reserve Division

Generalmajor Otto Fretter-Pico
– LXIV Army Corps

Note : The Corps swapped units with the IV Luftwaffe Corps in September.
– 159th Reserve Division
– Army Reserve
– 11th Panzer Division

Generalmajor Wend von Wietersheim
– 157th Reserve Division
– 158th Reserve Division (was in transition forming the 16th Infantry Division)

A significant asset, frequently overlooked or falsely attributed solely to the quality and competence of senior leaders, that was critical in performing this amphibious landing so successfully was the collective experience of the planners. The VI Corps staff and US assault divisions gained their experience in North Africa, Sicily, Salerno, and Anzio. Coincidentally, the 30th Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Infantry Division was the only Army unit to have had any amphibious training prior to 1940. As Corps Commander, Maj Gen Lucian K. Truscott indicated his G-4, Col E. J. O’Neill, and other staff members, had a vast experience in over-the-shore maintenance, which was gained in operations from North Africa to Anzio. This level of experience is probably the key ingredient that enabled the successful mounting of such an enormously complex undertaking in such a short period of time.

An old-school Cavalryman, Gen Lucian K. Truscott Jr. France - 1944

(An old-school Cavalryman, Gen Lucian K. Truscott Jr. France – 1944)

Extraction from Line in Italy

The Italian Campaign and other factors which prohibited any final decisions being made on Operation Dragoon, made the identification of available units difficult. Although by June 16, the Army troop list was fairly complete, the order of withdrawal from Italy had not been decided. Time was a key element because previous estimates stated an absolute minimum of 38 days would be required to take a unit from the front, then train, refit and load out. During the initial planning phase, when it was assumed that a two division assault would take place, the two American divisions would be mounted in the Naples area and two follow-up divisions would be mounted from Sicily and North Africa. However, as planning continued, the withdrawal of any US forces in Italy was dependent upon the battle being fought there. Divisions could not be taken from Italy until the capture of Rome at the earliest, and troops could not be diverted from any other theater. When the go-ahead was given for Dragoon by AFHQ, and forces could be withdrawn from Italy, naval ships, craft, and cargo aircraft were not in the theater to effect the removal. These assets had to be rushed back in order to meet the designated target dates. The VI Corps consisting of the 3rd, 36th, and 45th US Infantry Divisions, was mounted from Naples. The Combat Command of the 1st French Armored Division was mounted from Oran. The follow-up force of two Corps of seven French divisions was mounted out of Taranto – Brindisi, Oran, Corsica, and Naples.

Training for Dragoon

The initial success and rapid advance of the invasion of southern France can be attributed to the training received for the operation. The time available for training was limited because of a number of factors. However. the principal combat elements of the three American sub-task forces did undergo three weeks of refresher training in amphibious landings. The 36th and 45th US Divisions received their training at the Invasion Training Center in Salerno, Italy. The 3rd Infantry Division was trained by its own Division Commander in Pozguoli, Italy. A key element during this limited training was that both American and French units had prior combat experience. This was to be very important because of the limited training time available. The service units available had also worked with the divisions nominated for Operation Dragoon. Naval and Air Force units of the Mediterranean Theater had participated in a number of amphibious operations in North Africa, Sicily, Salerno, and Anzio. Training was designed to be as realistic as possible and it concentrated on preparing the forces for the actual problems of landing. The forces were trained in the use of new equipment and coordination between different services, and a review on modern warfare.

The Invasion Training Center at Salerno was a key element in the training process. Officers from Dragoon units were trained in waterproofing and they, in turn, conducted schools to train other officer and key NCO’s in the Seventh Army service units. The center was moved from Port aux Poules, Algeria, to Salerno, Italy, during the spring of 1944. The Salerno site proved to be a realistic training base, and it helped develop an appreciation for the necessity for proper preparation. The site was not only valuable because of its proximity to the sea, but its mountains proved excellent terrain for patrolling, wire and radio, as well as map and compass training. Sufficient ranges also were available for firing all types of weapons. Terrain models also were used to train soldiers. A key ingredient in the training was that the welfare of the soldiers was taken into consideration. As much rest and recreation as possible was provided during the training, considering the situation.

Infantry training was given in demolitions and amphibious assaults, as well as a review of basic infantry warfare. In addition to specialized training, the infantry schedule included road marches, close order drill and calisthenics, as well as bayonet and gun drill, chemical warfare training, and various other subjects. Not only were the troops being trained, their equipment was brought up to standard. Artillery training concentrated on amphibious landings. This consisted of the loading and unloading of 105-MM (HOW) in DUKWS (amphibious trucks) on both land and water, and using A-frames to unload the howitzers. Naval and shore fire control parties were organized and trained to accompany infantry battalions to assist them prior to the artillery units going into action. Tank training involved the adaptation of tanks for use in amphibious operations. This proved very effective. However, one part of the training that did not go well was range firing. Field Artillery units were not able to secure adequate ranges, and therefore went into combat without ever firing a round of 105-MM at a target.

Engineer units went through very rigorous training because they were the crucial link in neutralizing the enemy defenses. A majority of the engineer units had a great deal of combat experience and were veterans of amphibious operations. This proved to be important, since they were able to assist in the training of infantry, artillery, and other branches in demolitions, mine warfare, and the passage of obstacles. Units were able to rehearse assault landings on a division scale, to include naval and air support. Efforts were made to simulate exact conditions for the upcoming invasion. Obstacles were constructed resembling as much as possible those that could be expected on the beaches of southern France. The live firing of ammunition made battle conditions more dramatic and instructive. Detailed planning and executions were handled as if it were D-day. Although training time was limited for the Seventh Army’s invasion of southern France, it was realistic and effective. A key element of the training was the previous experience of the units involved. Their removal from combat and placement back into combat within a very short time was remarkable. On August 8, the Seventh Army returned from final rehearsals and began loading out. In less that a week, the units were involved in the operation for which they had been practicing.

On the western flank of the main assault area, the 3rd Infantry Division (Alpha Force) was to land the 7th Infantry Regiment on Alpha Red Beach (Beach 259 – Bay of Cavalaire) and the 15th Infantry Regiment on Alpha Yellow Beach (Beach 261 – on the Bay of Pampelonne) in order to overcome enemy resistance ýAnd to capture the towns of Cavalaire and Saint-Tropez. The 70th Infantry Regiment was division reserve, and to be landed at Alpha Red.

Having cleared the peninsula, the division would link up with the 45th Infantry Division to clear Beach 262, and from there advance to the west and southwest to join with the French Commandos (Romeo Force) and establish the Blue line on the west flank. Alpha Red beach was backed by a narrow belt of tree-covered dunes behind which ran a highway and a narrow gauge railroad. To the southwest were wooded slopes and the town of Cavalaire-Sur-Mer. A few small streams traversed the area, but provided no impediment to advance of infantry. The defenses here were considered moderate with 3 or 4 casemates, a dozen pillboxes, and approximately 17 machine guns. Eight light anti-aircraft guns were located on the high ground beyond the beaches, and on the far western edge of the beach, four fixed medium caliber guns were emplaced. Concrete pyramids out to 60 Meters from the beach had been constructed, and these were covered by artillery and machine gun fire. Approximately 800 Meters of barbed wire ran along the width of Beach 259, and the area was thoroughly mined. Intelligence reports indicated up to 250 German troops, manned these defenses.

Alpha Yellow Beach stretched 4500 Meters and consisted of soft sand and wooded slopes. Defenses here again were moderate, with a single row of piles about 45 Meters offshore. Pillboxes, wire, and mine fields along the beach. Intelligence estimated about 400 men defending this area.

The German Situation, January 1 1944

The New Year of 1944 was a dismal one for the German Army. The coming year would undoubtedly bring renewed assaults on the long Russian front where the Stalingrad and Kursk battles had caused irreplaceable losses. The growing strength of both the Allied Armies in Italy and the partisan movements in the Balkans clearly indicated increasing danger from these quarters. Both the great hope and the great danger were in the west. The Allied Armies building up in England must land somewhere in northwest Europe. If they succeeded, then collapse would inevitably follow. However, if they could be defeated, then the Germans could strip bare the western front and create forces to stave off the vast Russian armies. A victory in France, however remote the prospects, was the absolute last chance to avoid certain defeat. It was for these reasons that France, especially northern France, continued to receive reinforcements. Since 1942, France had been a vast depot and training area. New formations were raised there; worn-out, fought-out divisions from the Eastern Front were reconstituted there; small, high quality units were expanded there and then inevitably moved back to the active theaters. There were always large numbers of units in France, but they had little fighting capacity. In the spring of 1944, the transfers slowed, then stopped. Every spare man and gun were sent to France, to include battalions of volunteers from Russia and the occupied territories of the East. The preparations were rushed and old stocks of French weapons, tanks, naval guns, field fortifications and anti-invasion obstacles were brought to readiness.

Among the units brought to readiness was the German 19.Army. It was responsible for defending the coast of southern France from the Spanish frontier to the Italian border, a front of almost 650 kilometers. The 19.Army had the most quiet of Germany’s quiet fronts. It was mostly a conduit for passing rebuilt units to the Italian theater. Its formations had a mixture of elder and junior age classes. Discipline, especially among the German elements, was good. Officers were either young and inexperienced or old veterans no longer fit for service on the Eastern Front because of wounds, illness or other infirmities. The formations had been constantly levied for their best personnel and equipment. The commanders in southern France, Generaloberst Johannes Blaskowitz (Army Group G) and General der Infanterie Georg von Sodenstern (19.Army) were no fools. Blaskowitz had been banished to southern France because of his public disapproval of the SS and its actions in Poland, where he had been the military commander. Distrusted and disliked by Hitler, Blaskowitz was a highly competent officer who lacked political prestige and influence. Unlike Rommel or Model, Blaskowitz could not manipulate the priorities established by personalities in Nazi Germany. von Sodenstern was so outspoken on the dismal prospects of a successful defense that he was relieved for reasons of health at the end of June 1944. Whatever its weaknesses, the 19.Army was faced with a formidable mission. It was expected : (a) to defend the French Mediterranean Coast and a small sector of the Pyrenees front; (b) to hold the coast as long as possible in the event of an Allied landing and to throw the enemy back into the sea if possible; (c) to reconnoiter the old French and Italian defense installations and positions in the Alps with a view to exploring their possibilities in the event of battles in upper Italy.

The German commanders considered an invasion of Southern France – Northern Italy a distinct probability, even before the Normandy landings. Such a landing would pin down local German forces and draw off reserves from the main battle area. It would also be able to use the extensive base complexes in North Africa, Italy, Corsica and Sardinia. Finally, it would allow Allied reserves and amphibious forces gathered in the Mediterranean to be quickly infused into the decisive battle area. The Germans estimated there were three potential targets for an Allied landing :

– (a) An assault was possible on the west coast of the Gulf of Lyons in the region Narbonne – Bèziers – Sète to linkup with an assault on the Bay of Biscay and advance up the Rhone. This was unlikely for a variety of reasons.

– (b) Yet another possible point of attack was on the coast of the Italian Riviera centered on Genoa. This would unhinge the German defenses in Italy south of the Po River, and was a variation of the Anzio attack. While worrisome, this was not a direct threat to the 19.Army Army and could be fairly easily blocked along the coastal plain.

– (c) The most likely point was, of course, an assault east of the Rhone, then up the valley to the lower Rhine. This was the classic route into France used by
Caesar, Napoleon, and ultimately, the US Seventh Army.

The terrain in Southern France favored a defense in depth. The broad coastline was indefensible, but farther inland the Rhone valley narrowed. 19.Army repeatedly recommended the construction of fortifications in the narrow valleys cut by the Rhône, the Iser and the Saône rivers. In front of these fortifications, but beyond the range of naval gunfire, the Germans would conduct a mobile battle. Berlin categorically refused such a plan as did Rommel when he came to inspect the defenses. The beaches were to be defended to the last man. Yet building materials were in short supply. Of 800 pillboxes planned, only 300 had been constructed and only 80 were armed over the 650 kilometers of the front. All of these installations were on the coast. When the invasion came, the order to retreat arrived from Berlin less than three days after the first allied soldiers landed.

It was not a lack of fortifications that limited the German defense; it was the lack of troops, especially good ones. After the Normandy invasion, Army Group G and the 19.Army were milked again for quality troops. Three infantry divisions and the 9.Panzer-Division were transferred along with equipment, mobile artillery, anti-tank and anti-aircraft battalions. The SS Panzer Corps went to the front from the neighboring 1.Army. Finally, only 11.Panzer-Division was left in reserve for the Army Group. In exchange for its offerings, the 19.Army got more used-up divisions, from Normandy. The 716.Infantry-Division, for example, arrived from Normandy, in the words of its commander, defeated and destroyed. No one had any illusions about the fighting strength of the eastern ‘volunteer’ battalions or the Italian gun crews on the coast artillery pieces. The main question from the Army commander on down was how to save the Army from useless extermination. The impending invasion became steadily more obvious. The withdrawal of seasoned American units from the Italian front was noted. All French units and some Moroccan divisions in North Africa were being readied for shipment. The transfer of Allied close support aircraft to Corsica and Sardinia was also an indicator. Even the German soldiers in the streets could not help but notice the evacuation of civilians from the coastal areas and the rumors of an Allied attack on Napoleon’s Day, August 15 1944. When German air reconnaissance spotted the Allied fleet steaming north from Corsica on the August 13, the 19.Army went on full alert.

From 0710 to 0745 hours on D-day, shallow mine sweepers cleared boat lanes from 1500 Meters to within 100 Meters of the beaches. Drone boats were used to clear the final 100 Meters. From 0750 to 0758 hours, naval fire support placed rockets and inshore fire onto the beaches, producing an even pattern of barrage fire for assaulting troop cover. At 0800, the 7-RCT struck Alpha Red Beach while the 15-RCT attacked Alpha Yellow Beach. Each included a smoke detail, amphibious trucks, tank destroyers, naval shore fire control parties and an engineer section. The 7-RCT landed with the 3/7-IR on the left and 2/7-IR on the right, with 1/7-IR was serving as Regimental reserve. Several small landing craft were lost to mines during the assault, resulting in 60 casualties. One amphibious truck was also lost to mines. As the infantry moved out to the beach, it initially encountered no resistance, but was slowed by wire and wooden box mines. After amphibious tanks, tank destroyers, and howitzers had landed they encountered some small arms and mortar fire. Specially formed battle patrols consisting of 155 men each were employed in missions to neutralize the coastal defense systems at both landing sites, and as the infantry suppressed the small arms fire, the engineers began clearing lanes through the mines and wire.

At 0850, the beaches were effectively neutralized, and the 30-RCT (the division reserve) began landing and moving through the right flank of the 7-RCT. Eight successive waves landed on Beach 259, as the beachhead was steadily enlarged. The two RCT’s advanced rapidly inward. The 7-RCT turned westward with the 3/7-IR advancing along the coastal road to clear Cavalaire-Sur-Mer. By 1330, the 3/7-IR had linked up with the French Commandos near the Cap Nègre. The 2/7-RTC on the right had advanced through the town of La Croix-Valmer to the high ground two miles north of the town. They were relieved by the 30-RCT at 1430, and thereupon turned to advance to the southwest toward La Môle and Highway 98 (D-98), following the 1/7-RCT. Shortly after noon, the 1/7-RCT had been relieved from reserve on the beach, had advanced inland for about 6000 Meters to Highwav 98, then moved west along the highway to La Môle. By dark on the evening of D-day, the 7-RCT held a line from west of Cap Nègre 7500 Meters inland to La Môle.

On the right flank of the 3-ID, the 15-RCT had landed on Alpha Yellow Beach and subdued all beach defenses within 40 minutes. The infantry continued to advance inland against light opposition. The 1st Battalion cleared an enemy stronqpoint on the northern portion of the beach, and attacked inland 7500 Meters to seize the high ground northeast of the town Ramatuelle. The 2nd and 3rd Battalions moved to the north and northeast taking the high ground overlooking Saint-Tropez. By 1830, patrols of the 15-RCT had cleared the Saint-Tropez peninsula of enemy troops, and after nightfall, the regiment assembled west of the town to march along roads to Collobrières on the Blue Line. The 30-RCT, after passing through the 7-RCT, moved inland toward Cogolin and Grimaud. At 2100, patrols of the 30-RCT contacted the 157/45-ID between Grimaud and Les Cadeous, thus securing the right flank of the Alpha area.

Consolidation of the Beaches

By 1200, on D-day, the assault units had reached their initial beachhead line and were advancing toward objectives on the Blue Line. Unloading of supplies and equipment was proceeding satisfactorily, although hampered by offshore bars at Alpha Yellow and mine fields and obstacles at Alpha Red. Difficulties did exist due to unexpected lack of resistance. Three quarters of the supplies loaded on LCT’s were ammunition and a minimum of gasoline. The immediate breakthrough and rapid advance altered the anticipated requirements, making gasoline a critical item. On Alpha Red, several disastrous encounters with mines occurred which resulted in suspension of unloading on this beach until the mines were swept. Late in the afternoon of D-day, difficulties with the contemplated line of supply began to improve. By H plus 20, all but 5 LCT’s were completely unloaded, but unloading of ocean-type ships lagged far behind schedule. By noon on D plus 1 (August 16), the lead elements of the 3-ID were 30 kilometers inland. The rapid advance was due to a thin German defense in the landing area. This was proven by the interception of a German high command radio transmission which said : No counterattack will be launched against the invasion forces until they have driven inland far enough so as to be out of effective range of the support of their own naval gunfire.

Failure of the Germans to hold the forces in the immediate coastal area can be attributed to five major reasons : (1) They had disposed their divisions with reserves too far to the west; (2) Additional troops were committed piecemeal, mainly cue to route interdiction and motor transport shortage; (3) Coastal units were weak and lacked air support, armor, and heavy artillery; (4) The German LXII Corps HQs was isolated from its command near Draquignan; (5) German defenders were harassed from the rear by French Resistance Force.

The initial momentum allowed the expansion of the beachhead on either flank and permitted exploitations to the west. The most logical entry into the interior was through the Argens River Valley, along Highway 7 (N-7), which ran from Fréjus west to Aix-en-Provence, and then northwest to Avignon. The 15-IR and 30-IR of the 3-ID would move along Highway 7, while the 7-IR would take the southern route, Highway 98 which connects Saint-Tropez with the town of Toulon. The advance along Highway 7 met only light resistance. The German defense amounted to little more than guerrilla warfare from isolated groups in an uncoordinated hasty defense for the next two days. By noon on D plus 2 (August 17), the division had captured nine towns, and the front lines ran from Cuers, through Gonfaron, to Le LUC. This rapid advance ran into resistance at 1840 on August 17, when the 30-IR was stopped at the town of Brignoles, where the Germans were determined to block Highway 7. One day would be lost in preparation for the coordinated attack which would be necessary to take the town of Brignoles. The town was defended by approximately three battalions of Germans, mainlv from the 338.Infantry-Division.

The plan of attack was to move astride the Flassans-sur-Issole – Brignoles road with the 1/30-IRst Battalion on the right on a flanking mission, and the 2/30-IR on the left. H-hour was set for 0600, on D plus 3 (August 19). The attack went as planned, and Baker Co went north to the town of Le Val to protect the right flank, as George Co moved west from Besse-sur-Issole to the high ground dominating Le Celle on the left flank. The main attack moved forward against heavy resistance. During the day Fox Co got around to the north of the town, and cut the road to the west. During the night of August 18/19 August, the 3/30-IR was committed to an envelopment to the north to cut the road west of town and continue toward Bras, as the 1/30-IR and 2/30-IR worked into town. The attack was to begin at 0600, August 19. This was to be a three-pronged attack with companies attacking from the north, west, and south, to meet in the center of town. This broke the enemy resistance and the town was cleared by 1100. The Germans had established a strong defense at Brignoles in an attempt to prevent Toulon from being isolated from the north. Virtually the entire 2.Battalion of the 757.Regiment (338.Infantry-Division) was destroyed in this action.

Between noon on August 19 and noon on August 20, the division moved nearly 50 kilometers by marching and motor transport. The 7-IR completed their mission along the coast road and moved inland to join the other regiments. The 15-IR pushed on past Tourves and toward Gardanne. The 1/15-IR took Auriol with no resistance. The 2/15-IR found the town of Trets clear and moved on toward Gardanne. The 3/15-IR had taken Tourves early in the afternoon of August 19, after a 45 minute attack, and moved on toward the town of Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume. On the morning of August 20, the 3/15-IR moved by truck to the town of Trets. The 30-IR reorganized in the vicinity of Brignoles, following the fight there, and moved out on the afternoon of August 19. The 1/30-IR and the 3/30-IR encountered no resistance as they moved along Highway 7 through Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume and on to Ollières before midnight. The 2/30-IR remained in reserve around Brignoles until 0400, on August 20, when they moved up to join their regiment.

Aix-en-Provence was the most important town in the vicinity, and it appeared that the Germans were going to make another stand in this area. The fast movement of the 3-ID forced the Germans to abandon the Rhone Triangle Defense, and withdraw the slow-moving infantry up the Rhone. Elements of the 11.Panzers-Division were ordered into the areas around Aix-en-Provence, but they did not arrive with enough forces in enough time. Near Aix-en-Frovence, the 3rd Recon Troop ran into an enemy roadblock late in the morning of August 20. The strong point was made up of at least two AT guns, two tanks, mortars, and infantry. The roads into the area were blocked by adjusted artillery and mortar fire. During the night of August 20, several enemy planes flew over the area and dropped flares. That same night, the 30-IR established roadblocks to the west and south of the town. The 3/30 drove west on the north side of Highway 7 to the outskirts of the town where they were fired on about dark on August 20. The 1/30 swung north of 3/30 positions, and then continued west. This allowed them to cut across four or five hub roads leading into the city. They established roadblocks about 15 kilometers north of the city and fought about fifty bicycle-mounted Germans coming in from the north during the night, and were preparing for a dawn attack.

A coordinated attack began at dawn on August 21, with air support from the Seventh Army. The 1st Battalion was to attack from the northwest, the 3rd Battalion from the north, and the 2nd Battalion from the east. The bulk of the armor was with te 3rd Battalion. As the attack began, 1st Battalion was attacked from the rear by enemy infantry, with strong armor support attacking down Highway 7. The entire Battalion was needed to block this threat while the 3rd Battalion continued the attack. The town was cleared of the enemy by 1000, on the same day.

The Overall Situation in the Midst of the Battle

On August 21 1944, the vigor and speed of the entire VI Corps attack had forced the Germans to withdraw northward out of Southern France via the Rhone River corridor. The plan was for the 3-ID to pursue the Germans northward along the east bank of the Rhone, while Task Force Butler, a composite mechanized force, followed by the 76-ID, was to make a wide sweep to trap enemy units in the Rhone River Valley in the vicinity of Montélimar. Montélimar is a town on the east bank of the Rhone, about 160 kilometers northwest of Marseilles. Gen Truscott, the VI Corps Commander, determined that seizing Montélimar would block all German routes of withdrawal up the Rhone corridor. The victims of this envelopment would be the 11.Panzer-Division,the 198., 716., 189., and the 338.Infantry-Divisions. On August 22, Task Force Butler took up positions north of Montélimar. However, the Germans still owned three hill masses just north of Montélimar which were the key to control of the town and the highways running north and east of it.

The Task Force at this time was not strong enough to take the town or close the valley route completely. It attempted to hold its positions against the increasing blows of the northward fleeing Germans until August 24 when the 36th Infantry Division arrived and assembled its strength north and northeast of Montélimar; then Task Force Butler became the division reserve. It was about this time that a copy of the 36th Infantry Division order that detailed the placement of its regiments to hold the Montélimar route fell into the hands of the enemy. As will be seen later, this plan was used to great advantage by the Germans. From August 24 to August 27, the 36-ID position at Montélimar was under constant pressure from the Germans. The first sign of what was to be the death trap of Montélimar was two trains destroyed by American artillery and tanks. By August 25, the 3-ID had advanced northward to Avignon. Now the Germans began to feel the pressure being applied from behind by the 3-ID. A major factor aiding the speed and success of the 3-ID’s northward advance was the activity of the French Resistance groups. At the time of the Dragoon landing, there were about seventeen of these well organized and disciplined groups operating in southern France. These groups, known as the FFI (Forces Françaises De l’Interieure), swung into decisive action to aid the 3-ID’s advance to Montélimar. For example, the FFI seized whole towns, and held them to await the American coming. They also coordinated sabotage activities with the Division’s movement, set up roadblocks, laid ambushes, and more.

The Battle of Montélimar

The 36-ID consolidated and held positions north of Montélimar, repulsing attack after attack. until August 26, when the Germans succeeded in breaking the Division roadblock on the east bank road. This happened to be the weakest point in the Division’s defensive perimeter, and the German breakthrough at this location was probably due to their knowledge of dispositions obtained from the captured order. The Germans attacked continuously and hit everywhere in a desperate attempt to extricate their trapped forces. By August 27, the 3-ID was attacking northwest to clear the enemy out of the Orange – Nyons – Montélimar triangle, and was encountering strong enemy delaying actions. Near Montélimar, the heaviest German motor movements yet reported, a large column of tanks, armored vehicles, self-propelled guns and half-tracks, was observed filtering northward. The 36-ID, although in an ideal spot for interception was unable to break loose from its own fight, and could not keep the enemy from filtering through. Enemy prisoners reported that as of August 27, the bulk of the 11.Panzer-Division had succeeded in passing through, but that the 198.Division was still trapped south of Montélimar. On this same day, the 3-ID broke through the delaying line against heavy opposition, and captured a two kilometer long double column of German vehicles moving toward Montélimar. They continued their attack on the 28, striking Montélimar from the South, West, and North, and by noon on the 29, they occupied the city and all resistance east and south of Montélimar had ceased.

On the morning of August 29, the Germans strongly attacked north of Montélimar in an effort to break out with the remainder of the 198.Division. The 3-ID repulsed the attack and captured the 198.Division’s Commander, as well as vast stockpiles of abandoned equipment; yet many of the personnel in the trapped unit succeeded in escaping. The tactical situation now demanded that efforts be made to halt the enemy before he could complete crossing of the Drôme River further north. Operations along the Drôme River represented the final phase of the Battle of Montélimar. The Drôme River was the last barrier in the German retreat northward to Lyon. The 36-ID repositioned its forces, and by August 27, they had narrowed German escape routes to one. Air support and artillery harassed enemy traffic and destroyed bridges, but the Drôme was fordable at most points during the month of August, so some forces still escaped.

Overall, allied forces inflicted heavy losses on the German Army at Montélimar. They destroyed 4000 vehicles, tanks, and guns, as well as 2000 horses and 6 railway guns. By August 28, over 42.000 prisoners were taken. Only a small fraction of the German 19.Army was able to run the gauntlet at Montélimar and escape with their equipment, and no division, except the 11.Panzer-Division, escaped as an intact unit. The reasons for the success at Montélimar and and the Dragoon Operation in general, were basic and included :

1 – The use of battle-experienced commanders and troops;
2 – Experienced planning staffs, most of whom had worked together in other Mediterranean operations;
3 – Overwhelming air superiority;
4 – Excellent Allied intelligence, in contrast to poor and inadequate intelligence on the German side;
5 – Inherent weakness of enemy forces characterized by their lack of mobility, low morale, and low state of combat efficiency;
6 – Early breakdown of German communication, command, and control;
7 – Aggressive exploitation by troops of the US VI Corps.

The Situation at the Close of the Battle

At the end of August, the Seventh Army had completed the liberation of southern France and was closing in on the city of Lyon. On the eastern flank, patrols of the 1st Airborne Task Force reached the Italian border. In the north, the 36 and 45-IDs had already crossed the Rhone River where it flows into Lyon from the high Alps to the east and were operating northeast of the city. The 3-ID, after mopping up the Montélimar battle area, went into a reserve role near Voiron. On the west bank of the Rhone, below Lyon, units of the French Army were pushing the enemy northward, and French Reconnaissance elements were advancing along the Mediterranean coast close to the Spanish border. This marked the end of Operation Dragoon. From here on, the plan was to pursue the remainder of the German 19.Army, pushing it completely out of France, and to make contact with Gen Patton’s American Third Army.

Significance of the Action

There is no doubt about the tactical decisiveness of Operation Anvil/Dragoon. Enemy resistance was so slight as to permit immediate exploitation northward, through Grenoble towards Lyons, allowing a link-up with the Third Army 28 days after the landing. The operation created a diversionary effect to assist Overlord, protected the right flank of the Third Army, and provided another major port on the continent. However, the rapid progress toward the north was so unexpected that plans had not been made for that eventuality. For example, the Air Force P-47’s operating out of Corsica had range difficulties by D plus 5. Fighter bombers were unable to operate at all in the northern sector near Grenoble. Logistics was supported from the assault beaches until mid-September when Marseilles and Toulon were seized. This created a supply line of 280 kilometers, one way. Consequently, although allied forces took advantage of the opportunities presented, they were unable to capitalized fully on them. The immediate effect of the battle’s outcome to allied forces was the ejection of German forces from Southern France; the interjection of the Free French Forces into the fighting with corresponding enhancement of the political situation among the allies; the availability to the allies of two major port complexes (Marseilles and Toulon); the benefit deriving from two fronts in France; and the morale enhancing factor of a truly successful major operation. As far as the Germans were concerned, the impact of the operation was severe. The seven German divisions opposing the invasion were eliminated as fighting units. Most Axis troops in Southwestern France were surrounded and Germany was forced to divert its attention from Normandy.

The battle provided a significant disadvantage for the Germans. As Allan Wilt states in his book ‘The French Riviera Campaign of August 1944’, No matter how depleted the Axis forces were, the Germans still had to keep considerable numbers of formations positioned along France’s Mediterranean coast. In this sense, particularly after August 7, when the Germans knew that the allies were definitively building up their forces for an attack, Dragoon did restrain the Wehrmacht from sending additional men and material North. This, a threat alone would not have accomplished”. Also the inescapable fact remains that 79.000 prisoners were taken during the operation at a time when Germany could least afford it. In addition, the seizing, of Toulon and Marseilles precluded, almost completely, the use of enemy ships and aircraft in the Western Mediterranean.

Long Term

There is some disagreement as to whether the outcome of the battle affected the long-term objectives of the allies. Churchill believed the Mediterranean invasion was unnecessary so far as it related to supporting the Normandy landings, and he believed the forces could be better used to support the allied effort in Italy, or even an invasion of the Balkans. Chester Wilmot, an Australian historian, believed that Operation Anvil/Dragoon distorted allied strategy in the Mediterranean and the West, to the immediate benefit of Hitler and the ultimate advantage of Stalin. The battle did not place the German Army in a position from which it could not recover, in the sense that they would have been ultimately defeated with or without a Mediterranean invasion. Such an outcome was simply a matter of time after the Normand’y breakout. By virtue of the same reasoning, the battle did not decide the outcome of the war. One can say that the outcome was the war in Europe was decided when Operation Overlord was approved for execution. The battle ranks in importance with the allied landings in Sicily, which were also a spectacular tactical success, but did not decide the outcome of the Italian campaign.

For all purposes :
European Center of Military History
Gunter ‘Doc Snafu’ Gillot
rue des Thiers 8
Francorchamps 4970
Email : gunter [at] eucmh.be

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(NB : Published for Good – March 2019)


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