Operation Dragoon (initially Operation Anvil) was the code name for the landing operation of the Allied invasion of Provence (Southern France) on 15 August 1944. The operation was initially planned to be executed in conjunction with Operation Overlord, the Allied landing in Normandy, but the lack of available resources led to a cancellation of the second landing. By July 1944 the landing was reconsidered, as the clogged-up ports in Normandy did not have the capacity to adequately supply the Allied forces. Concurrently, the French High Command pushed for a revival of the operation that would include large numbers of French troops. As a result, the operation was finally approved in July to be executed in August.
|Part of the Mediterranean and Middle East Theatre and the European Theatre of World War II|
The Operation Dragoon invasion fleet off the coast of Southern France
|United States France United Kingdom Canada[note]Air support: Australia South AfricaNaval support: Greece New Zealand||Germany|
|Commanders and leaders|
Jacob L. Devers Alexander Patch Jean de Tassigny|
Henry Kent Hewitt John K. Cannon
|Johannes Blaskowitz Friedrich Wiese|
Eighth Fleet MAAF
|Initial landing151,000 personnelEntire invasion force576,833 personnelFrench Resistance75,000 personnel||Initial landing85,000–100,000 personnel1,481 artillery piecesSouthern France285,000–300,000 personnel|
|Casualties and losses|
|more than 10,000 casualtiesTotal: ~25,574||7,000 killed~21,000 wounded131,250 captured1,316 artillery piecesTotal: ~159,000|
The goal of the invasion was to secure the vital ports on the French Mediterranean coast and increase pressure on the German forces by opening another front. After some preliminary commando operations, the US VI Corps landed on the beaches of the Côte d'Azur under the shield of a large naval task force, followed by several divisions of the French Army B. They were opposed by the scattered forces of the German Army Group G, which had been weakened by the relocation of its divisions to other fronts and the replacement of its soldiers with third-rate Ostlegionen outfitted with obsolete equipment.
Hindered by Allied air supremacy and a large-scale uprising by the French Resistance, the weak German forces were swiftly defeated. The Germans withdrew to the north through the Rhône valley, to establish a stable defense line at Dijon. Allied mobile units were able to overtake the Germans and partially block their route at the town of Montélimar. The ensuing battle led to a stalemate, with neither side able to achieve a decisive breakthrough, until the Germans were finally able to complete their withdrawal and retreat from the town. While the Germans were retreating, the French managed to capture the important ports of Marseille and Toulon, soon putting them into operation.
The Germans were not able to hold Dijon and ordered a complete withdrawal from Southern France. Army Group G retreated further north, pursued by Allied forces. The fighting ultimately came to a stop at the Vosges mountains, where Army Group G was finally able to establish a stable defense line. After meeting with the Allied units from Operation Overlord, the Allied forces were in need of reorganizing and, facing stiffened German resistance, the offensive was halted on 14 September. Operation Dragoon was considered a success by the Allies. It enabled them to liberate most of Southern France in just four weeks while inflicting heavy casualties on the German forces, although a substantial part of the best German units were able to escape. The captured French ports were put into operation, allowing the Allies to solve their supply problems quickly.