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    VADM Lyal A. Davidson, United States Navy (1886 - 1950)
    Lyal A. Davidson* Birth name Lyal Ament Davidson* Born December 2, 1886* Muscatine, Iowa* Died December 29, 1950 (aged 64)* Bethesda, Maryland* Buried Arlington National Cemetery* Allegiance United Sta...
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    Admiral Sir Thomas Hope Troubridge KCB DSO & Bar (1 February 1895 – 29 September 1949) was a Royal navy officer who went on to become Fifth Sea Lord.Naval careerBorn the son of Admiral Sir Ernest Troub...
  • Douglas Elton Fairbanks, Jr. (1909 - 2000)
    rakishly handsome actor, producer, author and businessman Douglas Fairbanks Jr. was a real-life war hero and friend of royalty. He was the son of the ‘Prince of Pickfair’, actor Douglas Fairbanks Sr. a...
  • Admiral Henry Kent Hewitt (1887 - 1972)
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  • General John Kenneth Cannon (1892 - 1955)
    John Kenneth Cannon (March 2, 1892 – January 12, 1955) was a World War II Mediterranean combat commander and former chief of United States Air Forces in Europe for whom Cannon Air Force Base, Clovis, N...

Operation Dragoon (initially Operation Anvil) was the code name for the landing operation of the Allied invasion of Provence (Southern France) on 15 August 1944. The operation was initially planned to be executed in conjunction with Operation Overlord, the Allied landing in Normandy, but the lack of available resources led to a cancellation of the second landing. By July 1944 the landing was reconsidered, as the clogged-up ports in Normandy did not have the capacity to adequately supply the Allied forces. Concurrently, the French High Command pushed for a revival of the operation that would include large numbers of French troops. As a result, the operation was finally approved in July to be executed in August.

During planning stages, the operation was known as "Anvil", to complement Operation Sledgehammer, at that time the code name for the invasion of Normandy. Subsequently, both plans were renamed. Sledgehammer became Operation Overlord, and Anvil became Operation Dragoon.

The goal of the invasion was to secure the vital ports on the French Mediterranean coast and increase pressure on the German forces by opening another front. After some preliminary commando operations, the US VI Corps landed on the beaches of the Côte d'Azur under the shield of a large naval task force, followed by several divisions of the French Army B. They were opposed by the scattered forces of the German Army Group G, which had been weakened by the relocation of its divisions to other fronts and the replacement of its soldiers with third-rate Ostlegionen outfitted with obsolete equipment.

Hindered by Allied air supremacy and a large-scale uprising by the French Resistance, the weak German forces were swiftly defeated. The Germans withdrew to the north through the Rhône valley, to establish a stable defense line at Dijon. Allied mobile units were able to overtake the Germans and partially block their route at the town of Montélimar. The ensuing battle led to a stalemate, with neither side able to achieve a decisive breakthrough, until the Germans were finally able to complete their withdrawal and retreat from the town. While the Germans were retreating, the French managed to capture the important ports of Marseille and Toulon, soon putting them into operation.

The Germans were not able to hold Dijon and ordered a complete withdrawal from Southern France. Army Group G retreated further north, pursued by Allied forces. The fighting ultimately came to a stop at the Vosges mountains, where Army Group G was finally able to establish a stable defense line. After meeting with the Allied units from Operation Overlord, the Allied forces were in need of reorganizing and, facing stiffened German resistance, the offensive was halted on 14 September. Operation Dragoon was considered a success by the Allies. It enabled them to liberate most of Southern France in just four weeks while inflicting heavy casualties on the German forces, although a substantial part of the best German units were able to escape. The captured French ports were put into operation, allowing the Allies to solve their supply problems quickly.

Operation Dragoon was considered a success by the Allied forces. It enabled them to liberate most of southern France in only four weeks, while inflicting heavy casualties on the German forces. However, the Allies failed to cut off the most valuable units of the retreating Army Group G, which retreated over a distance of 800 km (500 mi) in good order, into the Vosges Mountains on the German border, with the capability of continuing the fight. The main reason for the failure to capture or destroy Army Group G was the Allied shortage of fuel, which began soon after the landing. The Allies had not anticipated the speed of their own advance, so could not adequately provide supplies and logistics to the leading Allied units.

A significant benefit of Operation Dragoon was the use of the port facilities in southern France, especially the large ports at Marseille and Toulon. After Operation Cobra and Operation Dragoon, the Allied advance slowed almost to a halt in September due to a critical lack of supplies. The ports were quickly brought back into service, together with the railroad system in southern France. Thereafter, large quantities of supplies could be moved north to ease the supply situation. In October, 524,894 tons of supplies were unloaded, which was more than one-third of the Allied cargo shipped to the Western front.

Operation Dragoon also had political implications. Two days after the landing, the Germans proceeded to dismantle the French State. Members of the Sicherheitsdienst stormed French government institutions and moved French officials, including Philippe Pétain, to Belfort in Eastern France. Later, they were moved to Sigmaringen in Germany, where they acted as a government in exile. With the collapse of the Vichy regime, troops of the Provisional Government of the French Republic re-established control of the French political institutions.[76] Antony Beevor comments, "The landings in the south of France prompted a rapid German withdrawal and thus reduced the damage and suffering done to France."

Despite these successes, criticism of Dragoon was made by some Allied generals and contemporary commentators such as Bernard Montgomery, Arthur R. Wilson and Chester Wilmot in the aftermath, mostly because of its geostrategic implications. Dragoon was argued to have diverted highly experienced men and much-needed materiel away from the continuing fighting at the Western front that could have been used, instead, to bolster the Italian front or to hasten the advance towards the Rhine by the Overlord forces. The resulting loss of momentum gave Stalin on the Eastern Front a free hand to pursue his offensive efforts with more determination, allowing him to win the race towards Berlin and occupy the Balkans. Dragoon, therefore, had consequences reaching into the Cold War.

Order of Battle