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Operation Dragoon, Invasion of Southern France August 15th 1944.

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  • Operation Dragoon, Invasion of Southern France August 15th 1944.

    On August 15th 1944 the Western Allies launched Operation Dragoon, the invasion of Southern France.

    Originally this attack was supposed to be in conjunction with the Normandy Landings on June 6th. But due to lack of resources it was decided that it could not be launched at the same time.

    It seems this operation was very successful. With the German Army preoccupied in Normandy the attack made rapid progress. Perhaps the most important objectives, the ports of Marseille and Toulon were captured within two weeks.

    On the other hand the operation was opposed by British High command as a needless diversion from the Normandy Campaign and the fight into Northern France.
    "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" Beatrice Evelyn Hall
    Updated for the 21st century... except if you are criticizing islam, that scares the $hii+e out of me!

  • #2
    Originally posted by 17thfabn View Post
    On August 15th 1944 the Western Allies launched Operation Dragoon, the invasion of Southern France.

    Originally this attack was supposed to be in conjunction with the Normandy Landings on June 6th. But due to lack of resources it was decided that it could not be launched at the same time.

    It seems this operation was very successful. With the German Army preoccupied in Normandy the attack made rapid progress. Perhaps the most important objectives, the ports of Marseille and Toulon were captured within two weeks.

    On the other hand the operation was opposed by British High command as a needless diversion from the Normandy Campaign and the fight into Northern France.

    I would say in the end it was much more beneficial than not. Capturing the ports of Marseilles and Toulon was an important asset to the Allies, their damages were light compared to the damage inflicted on the Normandy ports and supplies were streaming through in short order soon after repairs were made. It allowed for a solid footing for a French Army (much of it formerly the FEC) as opposed to only a division in the north (Leclerc's 2e DB). I also think it forced German forces in the south to be on the permanent defense instead of concocting potential attacks on the Allied flanks in the north.

    There are those who would argue that the operation delayed an Allied total victory by several months, allowing for Stalin to consolidate his gains in eastern Europe...perhaps, perhaps not. I think it's difficult to tell what kind of detrimental long lasting effect Dragoon had. I would argue in the overall scheme of things, it probably helped end the war effectively when it historically did, with a reliable logistics and supply line, most likely preventing casualty numbers from rising any higher than they did for the Allies.
    You'll live, only the best get killed.

    -General Charles de Gaulle

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    • #3
      Originally posted by 17thfabn View Post
      On the other hand the operation was opposed by British High command as a needless diversion from the Normandy Campaign and the fight into Northern France.
      Hmm. The resources flowing to Northern France kept going through the bottleneck of the Mulberry artificial harbors until well after Dragoon. I doubt that pouring more troops and above all the additional supplies these would need into those bottlenecks would have been very beneficial.

      On top of that, the Allies had the strategic lift in the MTO to shift assets from another bottleneck - the narrow Italian peninsula with its hill ranges and bad roads - to Southern France, and indeed the forces deployed there advanced quickly; the Germans were never able to establish a fixed defense line until the Allies were ordered to halt. That is in marked contrast with both the Italian campaign and the breakout from the Normandy beachheads.

      As a general rule, when you have the strategic lift and you can hit wherever you want, while your enemy is largely unable to shift their reserves quickly, that's the way to go, rather than behaving predictably and pouring all your assets into one foreseeable point of effort.

      Michele

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      • #4
        Originally posted by 17thfabn View Post
        On the other hand the operation was opposed by British High command as a needless diversion from the Normandy Campaign and the fight into Northern France.
        The British objection was that Dragoon would take too many troops and squadrons from the Italian theatre - where progress was at that time swift - leading to progress there becoming bogged down again.
        I think they were right 15th Army Group came very close to breaking through the Gothic line but ultimately ran out of troops and good weather.

        There were enough US divisions being sent to Europe - 14 in August and September 1944 - that a later Operation Dragoon could have been viable without denuding Italy of combat forces too much.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Gooner View Post

          The British objection was that Dragoon would take too many troops and squadrons from the Italian theatre - where progress was at that time swift - leading to progress there becoming bogged down again.
          I think they were right 15th Army Group came very close to breaking through the Gothic line but ultimately ran out of troops and good weather.

          There were enough US divisions being sent to Europe - 14 in August and September 1944 - that a later Operation Dragoon could have been viable without denuding Italy of combat forces too much.
          That was not the real issue. There was a proposal for an amphibious operation to conduct a landing up in Italy's armpit and push into Austria. This would have out flanked the German defensive positions and Allied forces reaching the Reich would have forced Hitler to draw troops back from the defence of France. However the landing craft and crews necessary were sent to Dragoon
          Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
          Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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          • #6
            Originally posted by MarkV View Post

            That was not the real issue. There was a proposal for an amphibious operation to conduct a landing up in Italy's armpit and push into Austria. This would have out flanked the German defensive positions and Allied forces reaching the Reich would have forced Hitler to draw troops back from the defence of France. However the landing craft and crews necessary were sent to Dragoon
            I wonder if some commanders were leery of another amphibious end run up the Italian Peninsula after the Anzio landings?
            "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" Beatrice Evelyn Hall
            Updated for the 21st century... except if you are criticizing islam, that scares the $hii+e out of me!

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            • #7
              Originally posted by MarkV View Post

              That was not the real issue. There was a proposal for an amphibious operation to conduct a landing up in Italy's armpit and push into Austria. This would have out flanked the German defensive positions and Allied forces reaching the Reich would have forced Hitler to draw troops back from the defence of France. However the landing craft and crews necessary were sent to Dragoon
              I don't think that prosposal would have got very far, for one that thinking brought 15th Army Group Anzio and for two the Italian adriatic beaches have only very gently sloping beaches whilst the sea was full of mines.

              The best use of an amphibious fleet in the Mediterranean in the Summer of '44 was probably just as an amphibious 'fleet in being'. Keep the Germans guessing about a landing whilst the Allies go hey diddle diddle, straight through the middle.

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