Operation Dragoon Battlefield Tour
1944 Invasion of Southern France
Led by Steve Hamilton
The Allied invasion of southern France on 15 August 1944. Often over-shadowed by the
more famous Operation Overlord (D Day) which took place two months earlier. Operation
Dragoon is the forgotten Allied invasion of Europe. An amphibious assault on the French
Riviera by the United States Seventh Army and the French First Army forced the German
Army Group G to abandon southern France and retreat towards the Vosges Mountains. We
shall visit all the landing beaches from St Raphael to St Tropez and head north towards
Germany, learn of the “Lost Battalion” and see where Audie Murphy won his Medal of
Honor and hear the heroic story of the native North African troops.
This tour is a joint operation between Western Desert Battlefield Tours and Valor Tours,
America’s oldest battlefield tour company.
Fly to Marseille. Escorted to our hotel in the city. (D)
While in Marseille we will visit the Commonwealth war cemetery and visit the world famous
Foreign Legion Museum at Aubagne. We shall also see the German U Boat bunker “Martha”
and visit the tank memorial at Notre-Dame De La Garde. Overnight in Marseille (B D)
The landings were an overwhelming success. On Delta and Alpha beaches, German
resistance was low. The Allied units in this sector were able to link up with paratroopers very
quickly and succeeded in capturing the nearby towns. Only on Camel Beach did the Germans
put up some serious resistance. This beach was secured by several well emplaced coastal
guns as well as several flak batteries. German artillery formed the main opposition and some
bunkers provided heavy resistance. The most serious fighting was on Camel Red Beach at the
town of St-Raphaël. A bombing run of 90 Allied B-24 bombers were used against a German
strongpoint here. But even with the assistance of naval fire, the Allies were not able to bring
the landing ships close to the beach. They decided to avoid Camel Red and land only at
Camel Blue and Camel Green, which was successful.
American landing craft 282
Today the anniversary of the landings, we visit the landing beaches and Memorials at
Cavalaire sur Mer and St Tropez where the 3rd Infantry Division landed, Ste Maxime where
Infantry Division landed and St Raphaël where the 36
Infantry Division landed.
Meet up with the 36th Texas Division re-enactment Society and the opportunity to go
shopping around a military market. While passing Toulon we will visit the two forts where
Napoleon Bonaparte first made a name for himself. Overnight in St Raphaël. (B D)
Rhone War Cemetery
Visit to Le Muy crossroads and 4
Para Road Bridge and the Airborne Memorial; Le Muy a
vital inland crossroads captured by paratroopers who paved the way the advance inland.
Watch re-enactors as they drive through Le Muy for the Liberation parade and visit the Le
Muy war Museum. Le Motte the first town in southern France to be liberated, and the
American war cemetery at Draguignan. Overnight at Aix-en-Provence. (B D)
The battle around Montélimar saw the heaviest fighting of the northerly advance. On the
night of 17 August, the German High Command ordered General Blaskowitz's Army Group
G to evacuate southern France. German forces then began to move to the north-east. To cut
off the Germans and capture as many as possible, VI Corps commander Major General
Truscott organized a mobile task force under his chief of staff, Brigadier General Butler, on
17 August. Its job was to drive north, link up with the French Resistance, and try to cut off
General Friedrich Paul Wiese's retreating German Nineteenth Army.
Today we make our way north along the road used by the retreating Army Group G. Visits to
the important Hill 300 and Condullac Pass where Task Force Butler took up its positions.
Overnight in Valence. (B D)
Visit to the Vosges Mountains battlefields. Here we learn of the dramatic story of the 1
Battalion of the 141
“Alamo” Regiment better known as the “Lost Battalion” and the Nisei
warriors of the 442
Regimental Combat Team as we visit Bruyeres and Biffontaine, and
Epinal war cemetery, where 4 Medal of Honor winners, 14 sets of brothers and 2 Tuskagee
airmen are buried. Overnight in Colmar. (B D)
A German bridgehead on the west bank of the Rhine 40 miles long and 30 miles deep was
formed in November 1944 when the German defences in the Vosges Mountains collapsed
under the pressure of an offensive by the U.S. 6th Army. The French First Army would force
the Belfort Gap and destroyed the German IV Luftwaffe Korps near the town of Burnhaupt in
the southern Vosges Mountains. Soon after, French forces reached the Rhine in the region
north of the Swiss border between Mulhouse and Basel. Likewise, in the northern Vosges
Mountains, the French 2
Armoured Division spearheaded a U.S. Seventh Army advance,
forced the Saverne Gap, and drove to the Rhine, liberating Strasbourg on 23 November 1944.
The effect of these two advances was to collapse the German presence in southern Alsace
west of the Rhine to a semi-circular-shaped bridgehead centred on the town of Colmar that
came to be known as the Colmar Pocket.
M10 Tank Destroyer
Today we visit various sites within the Colmar Pocket including the Audie Murphy Medal of
Honor battle site and the Colmar Pocket Memorial. We also examine the important tank
battlefield of Hatten. The day also includes a visit to WW1 trenches and a Lancaster bomber
crash site. Dinner in the famous Kammerzell restaurant. Overnight in Strasbourg. (B D)
Fly home or other from Strasbourg. (B)
Date of Tour
Price of tour
Included in price:
Meals as itinerary (B D)
Minerals water during the day.
Not included in the price:
Hotel services, telephone, laundry, drinks etc
Tips to staff.