The preliminary planning for Operation Anvil-Dragoon, an Operation first code-named ‘Anvil’ and later changed to ‘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 and 3, Overlord would take place prior to any other amphibious landing.
The initial planning for Operation Anvil stressed the need for 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 US 7-A 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 was 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 the range of the coastal guns around Toulon, approaches were heavily mined and this congested area would hinder the maneuverability of our gunfire support ships. The Cavalaire – Agay 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.
During 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 Feb 29, 1944, that planning proceeds 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 Jul 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.
The 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 a 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 the 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 – 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 US 7-A 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 the 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.
As Erwin Rommel is said to have observed, the battle is fought and decided by the 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 baseline 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 June 1, 1944.
The different planning staff members found themselves facing uncertainty and a lack of time. After receiving information as to the impending operation, the Commander of the Service of Supply NATOUSA first warned his supporting logistic organization. New York Port of Embarkation (NYPOE) of anticipated requirements on Jan 15, 1944. Three days later, actual requisitions for bulk supplies were submitted. This action was virtually imperative since the conservative estimate of the 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 simply canceled 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 canceled 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, the Service of Supply NATOUSA, with the concurrence of the US 7-A, 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. FM Henry M. Wilson. the Theater Commander received his instructions on July 2. The Service of Supply NATOUSA received the responsibility to support the US 7-A 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 the cycle of five days.
The maintenance of two large operations in the same theater (US 5-A in Italy and the 7-A 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 the Service of Supply 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.
Order of Battle – Operation Dragoon,
Organization for Combat
1st Airborne Task Force
CG Gen Robert T. Frederick. HQs & HQ Co 1-A/B TF, 517-PIR; 509-PIB; 550-GIB (Glider), 1/551-PIB (Reinforced); 460-PFAB, 463-PFAB; 602-GFAB (75-MM HOW); 596-A/B Engineer Co; 887-A/B Engineer Aviation Co; 512-A/B Signal Co; 552-A/B AT Co; Able Co 2-CMB (Chem); Able Co 83-CMB (Chem); 645t-TDB; 676-Med Coll. Co; Provisional A/B MP Plat; Provisional Pathfinder Det; 172 Detail Issues Depot British Heavy Aerial Resupply Company; 334 QM Depot Co (-); 3358-QM Truck Co; Det 3-OD Co (Medium); 4-Para Bn (UK); 5-Para Bn (Scots); 6-Para Bn (Royal Welch); 172-Para Field Ambulance (UK); 300-Air Landing AT Battery Royal Artillery; 64-Air Landing Battery Royal Artillery; 2-Para Squadron Royal Engineers; 2-Para Independent Brigade Group Signal Company Royal Signals; 1-Glider Independent Squadron Army Air Corps; 23-Para Independent Platoon Army Air Corps (Pathfinders); 2-Para Independent Parachute Brigade Group Company Royal Army Service Corps; 751-Para Brigade Company Royal Army Service Corps; T Co Royal Army Service Corps; 2-Para Independent Brigade Group Workshop Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers; 2-Para Independent Brigade Group Provost Section Royal Military Police; US-Canadian 1-SSF (-) and French Groupe de Commandos (-).
Dog Co (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 Co Engineer Camouflage Battalion; 1202nd Engineer Fire Fighting Platoon; 1204th Engineer Fire Fighting Platoon; 1711th Engineer Map Depot Detachment and Special Platoon, 460th Engineer Depot Company
(Service Units) 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) and HQs & HQ Detachment, 759th Military Police Battalion. Medical 1st Advance Section, 7th Medical Depot Company. Quartermaster 94th Quartermaster Railhead Company (-2 Platoons); 138th Quartermaster Truck Company; 144th Quartermaster Truck Company; Detachment, 202nd Quartermaster Car Company (-); HQs & HQ Detachment, 528th Quartermaster Battalion and 357th Quartermaster Truck Company. Signal Army Signal Battalion; 226th Signal Operation Company; Detachment, 163rd Signal Photo Company, and 982nd Signal Service Company. Miscellaneous Detachment, 72nd Liaison Squadron; 11th Postal Regulating Unit; Special Service Staff (OSS), and 28 Port Cos and 7 Battalion HQ Detachments
VI Corps CG Gen Lucian K. Truscott, HQs & HQ Co, VI Corps. Combat Command CG Gen Aimé M. Sudre, Combat Command Sudre, 1st French Armored. Attached 1st Co 9th Regiment des Chasseurs d’Afrique; Detachment 2/661 Co (Ordnance) Réparation Engins Blindés; 66th Ammo Co (-) and Detachment 705th Co, Fuel Supply.
Field Artillery HQs & HQ Battery, VI Corps Artillery; HQs & HQ Battery, 6th Field Artillery Group; HQs & HQ Battery, 35th Field Artillery Group; HQs & HQ Battery, 36-FAG; 2-FAOB; 36-FAB (155-MM GUN); 59-FAB (SP)(105-MM HOW); 69-FAB (SP)(105-MM HOW); 93-FAB (SP)(105-MM HOW); 141-FAB (155-MM HOW); 634-FAB (155-MM HOW); 937-FAB (155-MM HOW); 938-FAB (155-MM HOW); 976-FAB (155-MM GUN), and 977-FAB (155-MM GUN). Anti Aircraft Artillery HQs & HQ Battery 35-AAA Brigade; HQs & HQ Battery 5-AAA Group; HQs & HQ Battery 68-AAA Group; HQs & HQ Battery 105-AAA Group; 68-AAAGB (Mobile); 72-AAAGB (Mobile); 106-AAA-AW Bn (SP); 107-AAA-AW Bn (Mobile); 108-AAAGB (Mobile); 216-AAAGB (Mobile); 433-AAA-AW Bn (Mobile); 441-AAA-AW Bn (SP); 443-AAA-AW Bn (SP); 451-AAA-AW Bn (Mobile); 534-AAA-AW Bn (Mobile); 895-AAA-AW Bn (Mobile); 102-AAA Barrage Balloon Btry (VLA); 103-AAA Barrage Balloon Btry (VLA), and 104-AAA Barrage Balloon Btry (VLA). Armored 191-TB; 753-TB, and 756-TB. Tank Destroyer 601-TDB, 636-TDB, and 645-TDB. Cavalry 117-Cav Recon Squadron. Chemical 2-Chem Bn Motorized (- 1 Co); 3-Chem Bn Motorized; 83-Chem Bn Motorized (- 1 Co); 6-Chem Depot Co; 11-Chem Maintenance Co, and 21-Chem Decontamination Co (-3 Plats) (Smoke). Engineer 343-Engr General Service Regt; 344-Engr General Service Regt; Charlie Co (Bailey Bridge), 378-Engr Bn (Separate); Dog Co (Treadway Bridge), 378-Engr Bn (Separate); 1st Plat 424-Engr Dump Truck Co, Contact Platoon 469-Engr Maintenance Co; Survey Platoon 661-Engr Topographic Co, and 6617-Engr Mine Clearance Co. Military Police 206-MP Co. Medical 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), and 95th Evacuation Hospital (Semimobile) (400 bed). Ordnance HQs & HQ Detachment, 43-OD Bn; HQs & HQ Detachment, 44-OD Bn; HQs & HQ Detachment, 45-OD Bn; 14-OD Medium Maintenance Co; 45-OD Medium Maintenance Co; 46-OD Medium Maintenance Co; 87-OD Heavy Maintenance Co (FA); 261-OD Medium Maintenance Co (AAA); 3406-OD Medium Automotive Maintenance Co; 3408-OD Medium Automotive Maintenance Co; 3432-OD Medium Automotive Maintenance Co; 64-OD Ammunition Co; 66-OD Ammunition Co; 680-OD Ammunition Co; 143-OD Bomb Disposal Squad; 144-OD Bomb Disposal Squad; 145-OD Ordnance Bomb Disposal Squad, and 146-OD Bomb Disposal Squad. Quartermaster 46-QM Graves Registration Co (-1 Plat); Platoon 549-QM Laundry Company, and 3426-QM Truck Co. Signal 1st Signal Center Team; 57th Signal Bn; 3201-SIS Detachment; 4 Detachments, 163rd Signal Photo Co, and Detachment A, 117th Radio Intelligence Co. Naval 3 Naval Combat Intelligence Teams; Naval Gunfire Liaison Personnel, and 15 Naval Shore Fire Control Parties.
3rd Infantry Division CG Gen John W. O’Daniel. Organic Units HHC & Special Troops 3-ID; – 3-MP Plat; 3-Sig Co; 3-QM Co; 3-CIC Det; 3-Recon Troop (Mez); 703-OD Light Maintenance Co; 10-ECB; 3-Medic Bn; 7-IR; 15-IR; 30-IR; HHB 3-ID Arty; 9-FAB (105-MM HOW); 10-FAB(105-MM HOW); 39-FAB Bn (105-MM HOW), and 41-FAB Bn (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; HQs & HQ Detachment, 52nd Medical Battalion; 376th Medical Collecting Co; 377th Medical Collecting Co; 378th Medical Collecting Co; 682nd Medical Collecting Co; 1st Plat & HQs Detachment, 616th Medical Clearing Co; Detachment Boat Guards; 157th MP Prisoner of War Detachment; 706th MP Prisoner of War Detachment; 790th MP Prisoner of War Detachment; Detachment, 377th MP Police Escort Guard Co; Able Co 759th MP Bn; 1st Platoon 21st Chemical Decontamination Co (Smoke); Detachment 63rd Chemical Depot Co; 3rd Platoon, 450th Engineer Depot Co; 69th OD Ammunition Co; Detachment 77th OD Depot Co; Detachment 977-OD Depot Co; 3407-OD Medium Automotive Maintenance Co (DUKW); 6690th Regulating Co; HQs & HQ Detachment 530-QM Bn; 4133-QM Service Co; 4134-QM Service Co; 4135-QM Service Co; 4136-QM Service Co; 3277-QM Service Co; 3357-QM Truck Co; 3634-QM Truck Co; HQs & HQ Detachment 52-QM Bn (Mobile); 3333-QM Truck Co (DUKW); 3334-QM Truck Co (DUKW); 3325-QM Truck Co (DUKW); 3336-QM Truck Co (DUKW); 3353-QM Truck Co (DUKW); 3355-QM Truck Co (DUKW); Section 3856-QM Gas Supply Co; 1 Platoon 93-QM Railhead Co; 332-AAF Beach Detail, and 111th Beach Section, RAF.
36th Infantry Division CG Gen John E. Dahlquist. Organic Units HHC & Special Troops, 36-ID; 36-MP Platoon; 36-Sig Co; 36-QM Co; 36-CIC Det; 36-Recon Troop (Mez); 736-OD Light Maintenance Co; 111-ECB; 111-Medic Bn; 141-IR; 142-IR; 143-IR; HHB, 36-ID Artillery; 131-FAB (105-MM HOW); 132-FAB (105-MM HOW); 133-FAB (105-MM HOW); 155-FAB (155-MM HOW).
36th Infantry Division (Beach Group)540th Engineer Combat Regt; 48th Engineer Combat Bn; 8th Naval Beach Bn; 74th Signal Co (Special); Detachment 207th Signal Depot Co; Detachment 177th Signal Repair Co; HQs & HQ Detachment 56-Medic Bn; 885-Medic Collecting Co; 886-Medic Co; 887-Medic Co; 89-Medic Clearing Co; 1st Platoon 638th Clearing Company; Charlie Co 759-MP Bn; 1 Section 377-POW Escort Guard Co; Detachment Boat Guards; 192MP Provisional POW Detachment; 601-MP Provisional POW Detachment; 3rd Platoon 21-Chem Chemical Decontamination Co (Smoke); Detachment 63-Chem Depot Co; 1st Platoon 450-Engr Depot Co; 603-OD Ammunition Co; Detachment 77-OD Depot Co; Detachment 977-OD Depot Co; 3405-OD Medium Automotive Maintenance Co (DUKW); Detachment 6690th Regulating Co; 1 Section 3894-QM Gas Supply Co; 2nd Platoon 94-QM Railhead Co; HQs & HQ Detachment 53-QM Battalion (Mobile); 3337-QM Truck Co (DUKW); 3338-QM Truck Co (DUKW); 3339-QM Truck Co (DUKW); 3340-QM Truck Co (DUKW); 3354QM Truck Co (DUKW); 3356-QM Truck Co (DUKW); HQs & HQ Detachment 259th QM Bn; 3286-QM Service Co; 3287 Service Co; 3288-QM Service Co; 3289-QM Service Co; 3299-QM Service Co; 3300-QM Service Co; 3427-QM Truck Co;
3360-QM Truck Co; AAF Beach Detail, and 111th Brick Section, RAF.
45th Infantry Division CG Gen William W. Eagles. Organic units HHC & Special Troops, 45-ID; 45-MP Platoon; 45-Sig Co; 45-QM Co; 45-CIC Detachment; 45-Recon Troop (Mez); 700-OD Light Maintenance Co; 120-ECB; 120-Medic Bn; 157-IR; 179-IR; 180-IR; HHB, 45-ID Artillery; 158-FAB (105-MM HOW); 160-FAB (105-MM HOW); 171-FAB (105-MM HOW); 189-FAB (155-MM HOW).
45th Infantry Division (Beach Group) 40th Engineer Combat Regt; 4th Naval Beach Bn; 71st Signal Company (Special); Detachment 207th Signal Depot Co; Detachment 177th Signal Repair Co; HQs & HQ Detachment 58th Medical Bn; 388th Medical Collecting Co; 389th Medical Collecting Co; 390th Medical Collecting Co; 514th Medical Clearing Co; 2nd Platoon 616th Clearing Co; Baker Co 759th Military Police Bn; 1 Section 377th POW Escort Guard Co; Detachment Boat Guards; 133rd POW Provisional Detachment; 175th POW Provisional Detachment; 191st POW Provisional Detachment; 3rd Platoon 21st Chemical Decontamination Co (Smoke); Detachment 63rd Chemical Depot Co; 2nd Platoon 450th Engineer Depot Co; 682nd OD Ammunition Co; Detachment 77th OD Depot Co; Detachment 977th OD Depot Co; 3487th OD Medium Automotive Maintenance Co (DUKW); 3633rd QM Truck Co; Detachment 6690th Regulating Co; HQs & HQ Detachment 147th QM Bn (Mobile); 829th Amphibian Truck Co; 830th Amphibian Truck Co; 831st Amphibian Truck Co; 832nd Amphibian Truck Co; 1 Section 3894th QM Gas Supply Co; HQs & HQ Detachment 240th QM Bn; 3250th QM Service Co; 3251st QM Service Co; 3252nd QM Service Co; 3253rd QM Service Co; 4053rd QM Service Co; Platoon 94th QM Railhead Co; 3425th QM Truck Co; AAF Beach Detail, and 110th Beach Section, RAF.
Groupe French Army B CG Gen Jean de Lattre de Tassigny. HQs & HQ Co French Army B 162/27 (-). French Second Army Corps CG Gen Edgard de Larminat. HQs & HQ Co, Second Army Corps 75. 1st French March Infantry Division, CG Gen Diego Brosset; 1st French Armored Division (-2 CC) CG Gen Jean Touzet du Vigier; 3rd French (Algerian) Infantry Division, CG Gen Joseph de Goislard de Monsabert; 9th French (Colonial) Infantry Division, CG 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; Detachment 1-FAOB (US); 1st French Colonial (Levant) Artillery Regiment; 3rd Group 65th French Artillery Regiment. Anti Aircraft Artillery Detachment HQs & HQ Btry, 34-AAA Brigade (US); 62-AAA Gun Battalion (US); Detachment HQs & HQ Btry 80-AAA Group (US); 893-AAA-AW Battalion (SP). Tank Destroyer French Chasseurs d’Afrique; 7th Regiment Chasseurs d’Afrique; 3rd Regiment Chasseurs d’Afrique. Engineer Engineer Topographic Co #31; 101st Engineer Regiment. Military Police 521st Company Highway Regulation; 2nd Company 11th Group of the Garde. Medical 401st Evacuation Hospital, Reanimation, Blood Transfusion #413/3; 405th Evacuation Hospital; 432nd Medical Battalion; 451/1 Advanced Depot; 422nd Field Hospital. Ordnance HQs 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. Quartermaster 1st Battalion 8th Regiment Pioneers Tirailleurs Sénégalais; Mess & Supply #323; Mess & Supply #325; Supply Company (Fuel). Signal 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. Transportation 11th Company, Transport Group 501
Mediterranean Allied Tactical Air Force CG Gen John K. Cannon. XII Tactical Air Command CG Gen Gordon P. Saville. 1st Fighter Group (P-38) (on loan to MATAF Aug 12/20 1944); 14th Fighter Group (P-38) (on loan to MATAF Aug 12/20 1944); 27th Fighter Group (P-47); 57th Operations Group (P-47); 79th Fighter Group (P-47); 86th Fighter Group (P-47); 324th Fighter Group (P-47); #251 Wing RAF (Supermarine Spitfire IX); #322 Wing RAF (Supermarine Spitfire IX); #324 Wing RAF (Supermarine Spitfire IX); 47th Bombardment Group (A-20 Havoc); 111th Recon Squadron (F-6A Mustang); 415th Night Fighter Squadron (Beaufighter VI); #225 Squadron RAF (Spitfire V); II/33 Escadrille (Spitfire V); Quartieme Escadre (P-47); 57th Bombardment Wing; 310th Bombardment Group (B-25 Mitchell); 321st Bombardment Group (B-25 Mitchell); 340th Bombardment Group (B-25 Mitchell); 5th Recon Squadron (F-5 Lightning); 23rd Recon 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)
CG 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 (F-6F 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 CG 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.
Army Group B CG Gen Johannes Blaskowitz. 19. Army CG Gen Georg von Sodenstern. Group Weise CG Gen Friedrich Wiese. IV Luftwaffe Field Corps; 716.Infantry Division; 198.Infantry Division; 189.Infantry Division; LXXXV Army Corps. 338.Infantry Division CG Gen Baptist Kneiss. 244.Infantry Division CG Gen René l’Homme de Courbiére. LXII Reserve Army Corps CG Gen Hans Schaefer. 242.Infantry Division CG Gen Ferdinand Neuling. 148.Reserve Division CG Gen Johannes Baessler. LXIV Army Corps CG Gen Otto Fretter-Pico. (Note, Corps swapped units with the IV Luftwaffe Corps in September, 159.Reserve Division; Army Reserve; 11.Panzer Division). Group Wietersheim CG Gen Wend von Wietersheim. 157.Reserve Division; 158.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 30-IR (3-ID) was the only Army unit to have had any amphibious training prior to 1940. As Corps Commander, 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.
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 3-ID, the 36-ID, and the 45-ID, 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 36-ID and the 45-ID received their training at the Invasion Training Center in Salerno, Italy. The 3-ID was trained by its own Division Commander in Pozzuoli, 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. The Naval and the Air Force units of the Mediterranean Theater had participated in a number of amphibious operations in North Africa, Sicily, Salerno, and Anzio. The 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 officers and key NCO’s in the 7-A 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, but their equipment was also 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 the 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 US 7-A’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 US 7-A returned from final rehearsals and began loading out. In less than 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 3-ID (Alpha Force) was to land the 7-IR on Alpha Red Beach (Beach 259 – Bay of Cavalaire) and the 15-IR on Alpha Yellow Beach (Beach 261 – on the Bay of Pampelonne) in order to overcome enemy resistance and to capture the towns of Cavalaire and Saint-Tropez. The 70-IR was division reserve, and to be landed at Alpha Red.
Having cleared the peninsula, the division would link up with the 45-ID 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 the advance of infantry. The defenses here were considered moderate with 3 or 4 casemates, a dozen pillboxes, and approximately 17 machine-guns. Eight light AAA 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 M from the beach had been constructed, and these were covered by artillery and machine-gun fire. Approximately 800 M 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 minefields along the beach. Intelligence estimated about 400 men defending this area.