War recalled on tourist beaches
Monday 15 August 1994
With President Francois Mitterrand taking the salute on the aircraft carrier Foch, the flotilla sailed from Villefranche-sur-Mer near Nice to Toulon, passing holidaymakers at Cannes and Saint Tropez on the way. Britain was represented by the Duke of York and the US by Pamela Harriman, its ambassador to France.
The Provence landings were an exercise in which Free French forces were to play a leading role, using troops from the colonies, many of them Africans and Arabs. To acknowledge this, 15 African leaders accompanied Mr Mitterrand yesterday.
The celebrations, continuing today, had been planned to stress 'the French effort in the liberation of the continent', Francois Leotard, the Defence Minister, said. Apart from the ships, 130 aircraft and 1,350 troops were taking part.
As in Normandy, the French authorities were presented with a headache by American paratroopers who fought in 1944 and, now in their seventies, wanted to jump again. At the D-Day anniversary, the 'jumping grandpas' floated to earth despite French attempts at dissuasion, with only one veteran sustaining a slight injury.
In the south of France, the military was even more unenthusiastic, saying the hard ground of Saint Endreol, now a golf course, was not as welcoming as the rain- sodden turf of Normandy, and that the hot weather made for unpredictable and dangerous currents. As a compromise, five US veterans have been authorised to jump equipped with lifejackets into the sea with younger comrades today.
The original Provence landings were much smoother than in Normandy. Alerted by the battles in the north, the French Resistance was quick off the mark, joined by many eleventh-hour recruits, to sabotage German installations and harass the occupying forces.
Originally, the operation - first codenamed 'Anvil' then 'Dragoon' - had been planned for 6 June, the day that 'Overlord' started in Normandy. But it was delayed and, until the last moment, Churchill was worried that the inevitable diversion of troops from the fighting in Italy would weaken the war effort there.
Stalin, whose arguments helped convince the Americans, said a landing in southern France was necessary to bring troops to the borders of Nazi Germany quickly; the progression through Italy, he said, would be slowed by the Alps. It was only on 2 July 1944, six weeks before the landing, that Churchill finally agreed.
The French Liberation ceremonies move north again next week for the anniversary of the Liberation of Paris where an uprising by police smoothed the way for the Allies. Among the ceremonies will be a re-enactment of some of the fighting in an evening of entertainment on 25 August including war-time music, a fireworks display along the Seine and, on the Place de la Concorde, jitter-bugging until dawn.
- 2 Rihanna 'nude pictures' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
- 3 Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
- 4 'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 5 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Rihanna 'nude pictures' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
Jennifer Lawrence: Leaked 4Chan sex video branded 'fake' by users
Jennifer Lawrence 'naked sex video' will be leaked next, threatens 4Chan celebrity photo hacker
Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...
£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...
£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...