France / Story
It was here, on 15 August 1944, that the 36th Infantry Division of the United States Army landed. Benefiting from the experience acquired in Normandy in particular, the operation was carried out without major losses and in good order, in a minimum of time.
The 36th ID had 29,820 men and 3,597 vehicles loaded onto 94 ships. It bore the famous T-Patch, formed by a capital T (State of Texas) over a Native American arrowhead (Oklahoma), a reminder of its origins.
Preceded by intense naval shelling, the landing benefitted from the complete control of the skies and the sea by the Allied armies.
This beach (code name Camel Green Beach) had been chosen to establish the bridgehead of the Provence Landings at Saint-Raphaël and Fréjus, facing the plain of the Argens, which opened the road to Toulon. This Camel zone was also intended to protect the areas further west (between Cavalaire and Sainte-Maxime), from any German counter-attack from the Alpes-Maritimes.
Exceptionally, the beach was not mined. It was used for shipping esterellite, a very hard blue volcanic rock that was extracted from the quarry just above. This was prized by the occupying forces for reinforcing their buildings. The Allies obtained this precious information thanks to Louis Marchand, the quarry's deputy manager and a member of English intelligence; this greatly helped the success of the operation.
Three regiments followed one another on 15 August 1944:
The 141st at 8am, with the exception of the 1st Battalion (860 men), which attacked the cove of the Anthéor viaduct (Camel Blue Beach) at the same time.
The 143rd at 10.30 am.
The 142nd at 3pm, which, unable to reach its original destination of Fréjus beach (Camel Red Beach), which was too heavily defended, was diverted to Dramont.
At 8.43pm several German bombers attacked the area. A remote-controlled gliding bomb hit the LST 282 (Landing Ship Tank), which was waiting to be unloaded, head-on. The ship was totally destroyed. The death toll was 49. The landing barge on the esplanade was given the number 282 as a reminder of this fact. Three bombers were shot down.
Leaving Dramont, the 3 regiments immediately set out to conquer the bridgehead (the Blue Line), towards Saint-Raphaël and Fréjus, and Théoule-sur-Mer via the Estérel. These three towns were liberated on 16 August following fighting which was, at times, difficult.
RD 559 – Boulevard de la 36ème Division du Texas, 83700 Saint-Raphaël