Seventy days after the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, Operation Dragoon was started in Provence in August. From the coast to the Dracénie region, some 450 000 men, 9 000 paratroopers, 2 100 warships, 1 900 aircraft, and gliders were deployed until September 12, when the "Overlord" operations in Normandy and the "Dragoon" vanguard combined forces inland.


Free Frenchmen led by General de Gaulle established the Resistance and reconstructed the French army in North Africa and London. The Allies chose to launch two landings in France in 1943 as part of their plan to strike Nazi Germany a severe blow. The Resistance increased and coordinated its sabotage and intelligence operations.

AUGUST 14, 1944

Approximately 7.15 pm "Nancy has a stiff neck," "Gaby is going to lie down in the grass," and "the hunter is hungry" were among the statements that could be heard over the BBC. The beginning of activities was heralded by these enigmatic signals. Allied commandos and paratroopers advanced to make passage on the evening of August 14.

AUGUST 15, 1944

D-Day has arrived. The first assault wave of Operation “Dragoon” was formed at 8 am by three American divisions, assisted by a French unit : the "Camel" force, comprising General Dahlquist’s 36th American division, the "Delta" force, comprising General Eagles’ 45th American division, the "Alpha" force, comprising General O’ Daniel’s 3rd American division.
At the heart of the structure, at Sainte-Maxime, is Nartelle beach, which is made up of three beaches : Red and Green on Plage de la Nartelle South side, Yellow on Plage de la Nartelle North side, Blue on Garonnette Beach.

To liberate Provence and France, General Sudre’s 1st French Division group landed the next night. This was the first time a French army had fought on French soil since the loss in 1940.

People of Sainte-Maxime tell us :

"This liberation overwhelmed me with joy, I was happy to see the end of it, I was 20, it was fantastic to see young people, life was starting to change." Claude is 20 years old
"The Americans had arrived when my brother returned at around 11 a.m. on the morning of the 15th, carrying a pack of Camel cigarettes ! We had regained our freedom. The 1944 summer party appeared to go on forever. Mireille, 11 years old
"I remember the GI’s having fun with me and spoiling me with sweets and chewing gum, which I swallowed because I didn’t know what it was !" Jean-Pierre, 3 1/2 years old