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Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Forgotten D Day in Provence

 Media coverage on the 70th anniversary d day embarkation in the North of France allowed us to rethink of  the harsh realities of the second world war but let’s not forget that there was another landing, an equally important event, Operations Dragoon, which took place  August 15, a couple of weeks later here in the South of France. Historians refer to this landing as 'the forgotten D-day,' an attack involving not only French commandoes, British and American paratroopers but also around 200,000 soldiers from the French colonies of Africa and the Caribbean.

  With the help of the French résistance, these troops were able to march north through France and into Germany.  The airborne and seaborne attack in the South was a complicated operation, lasting only around four weeks but one which forced   the Germans out of the South of France, eventually liberating Paris.

Vidauban, a little town in Provence

The people of Provence  paid tribute this weekend in towns and villages and in the Mediterranean town of Toulon with naval frigates, aircraft carriers and submarines. Thousands of visitors and spectators attended the impressive ceremony but in the little inland town of Vidauban, roads were closed off for a few hours as the town people here also looked back, paying tribute and thinking of the thousands of troops that marched through the town seventy years ago, those brave soldiers who scrambled over vine and olive trees as they moved upwards and onwards unto the capital.

Two American veterans invited by the mayor also participated in the ceremony.
Robert Jackson from the 45th Division made it all the way up to Paris but Michael Halik was not so lucky - he stepped onto a mine in Ramatuelle as soon as he landed and had to be sent home. This is his first visit back to France.
Michael Halik in Vidauban for the Liberation ceremony



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