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The other invasion

The other invasion

07 Jan 2014 BY Tim Wells

One of the major operations in the Allies' liberation of western Europe from the Wehrmacht is perhaps relatively little-known, as it occurred in the war’s later stages when the invasion of Normandy and its aftermath had decisively turned the tide. Operation Dragoon was however the “Anvil” to Operation Overlord’s “Sledgehammer”, and both were planned in principle at Tehran in 1943, where Churchill and Roosevelt acquiesced to Stalin’s demand for a second front against Germany. Once the Allies had landed in Normandy, the south of France needed to be opened for the 50 American divisions waiting across the Atlantic; Marshall and Eisenhauer set their sights on Marseille. The newly-liberated ports of Naples and Salerno saw weeks of intense preparation, and on August 15 the invasion force reached their targeted beachheads from Cavalaire east to St-Raphäel. They met little resistance from the overaged and poorly-equipped German forces, exhausted from battling the French Maquis resistance fighters, and within hours had taken several thousand prisoners. In spite of the desperate rearguard action of the retreating German army, an all-French assault force took Marseille on August 28th, and shortly thereafter Toulon. The American forces pushed northward, and less than a month after Operation Dragoon they were shaking hands near Dijon with their buddies from Patton’s Third Army down from Normandy. The nut had well and truly been cracked.