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17 Sep 2009

D-Day and onwards: Dragoon in the South

The 15th August was the 65th anniversary of the allied landing in the south of France – Operation Dragoon. This has not received much attention, primarily because, like all the Normandy beach landings except Omaha, it was a fairly straightforward operation, and unlike at Omaha Beach, the landings went according to plan and on time. By the time it took place, most German defences had moved north, so progress was fairly rapid through France.
The D-Day landings were an international effort with only a minority of Americans, but in the south this was a mostly American landing, though with extensive support from the RAF, British Paratroopers and the Royal Navy, and of course French commandos and other troops, especially the Free French 1st Army, under General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny.
Churchill had opposed the plan, because he believed it would have an impact on the main invasion efforts, but eventually agreed to it. Wikipedia has an accurate overview of the events here.
Although overall, there was not excessive opposition, there were still casualties. My father was one of those landing, as a Warrant Officer in the RAF, organising transport for the air operations. As he ran up the beach at St Maxime – just along from another fishing village called St Tropez – his friend running beside him was hit by an enemy bullet, and killed outright. A couple of feet to the side and I would not be here to write about it.
The full personal story of his war from 1939 until demob in 1946, is at, although he doesn’t mention that – rather significant - incident! In fact, there are many other incidents that he doesn’t mention, mainly because the memoirs were written, as a therapeutic exercise, over a few days. There are however, many interesting and unexpected details. The memoirs have been published as an eBook titled One Man's War:in the RAF from 1939-1946 for Kindle and other eReaders, details on the website.
There is a new book about the south landings, which was reviewed in a local paper. Unfortunately, I left the paper in a cafĂ©, and now I cannot find any reference to the book anywhere……

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