Saturday, September 12, 2009

I have been to... the "Camel" beaches - Operation Dragoon

The first of my battlefield visit posts from the recent holidays; these are the pictures from landing area used by the American 36th infantry division as part of Operation Dragoon - the allied invasion of southern France in WWII..

The division were assigned a number of beaches, collectively known as "Camel", to land on including what was supposed to be the main landing area - "Red" beach - at Frejus. In the end, for good operational reasons ("Red" beach was aptly named, and 'hot' to say the least..) and a brave decision by the beach commander, the vast majority of the division was landed on "Green" beach at Dramont..

So without further ado here are my pictures impressions from my visit to "Green" beach at Dramont...

The beach is easily accessible from the main road to Cannes, and lies just east of St. Raphael - being the Cote d'Azure the main function of the beach these days is "pleasure" so there's a decent car park, and on the day I went, plenty of parking on the side of the main road..

When you walk across the road some steps take you to a big plaza:

On the beach side of the plaza there are some monuments commemorating specific men in the operation and a landing craft left over from the invasion - I wanted to have a look inside, but the deck is completely enclosed... all in all the landing craft is in good condition for it's age, and shows little age deterioration. In fact, given the propensity for graffiti in France, the whole area is very well looked after..

Walking through the plaza you then go down some steep steps (about a 100 yard drop over a 100 yard distance - so a sharp decline and would have given problems on the day) through a wooded area before you arrive at the beach to a considerably different view on the day I went, to to the one 60 odd years before!!

This one was taken at the far eastern end of the beach looking westward towards to cape; around this cape lies St. Raphael and Frejus - the "red" beaches.. behind me is a large cliff/promontary which these days has a light house or radio station on top...

This shows the kind of beach terrain they would have had - unusually for this area it's stones rather than sand ... I bought away a small pebble and it reminds me of pumice...

This castle sits on a small island just off the eastern end of the beach - none of my research or reading indicates that it played any significant part in the landing but I wouldn't mind owning it!

Last of all a small movie - this shows the proposed "Red" landing beach, before panning southwards past St Raphael, to the cape at the end, around which Dramont sits.. you can see the hilly nature of the terrain behind St. Raphael - the allies fought their way across this to secure Frejus by nightfall on the day of the landing..

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