France / Landmark
This seemingly peaceful spot was a part of Saint-Raphaël that experienced several major wartime events. In 1943-1944, its viaduct was the target of 12 bombardments. On 15 August 1944, its beach played a key role in the Provence landings.
The Anthéor viaduct was considered by the Allies as early as 1943 as a strategic objective to cut the only rail link between southern France and northern Italy. Up to 15,000 tonnes a day were transported over the viaduct to supply the Nazi armies.
The objective proved very difficult to achieve. In September 1943, the Royal Air Force sent in the "Dambusters", the famous squadron that had distinguished itself by its precision bombing of the Ruhr dams. A second bombing by the American air force took place a few days later, then the Allied bombing raids continued without interruption until June 1944. However, they only caused minor damage, which was quickly repaired, as the occupiers had installed numerous batteries of anti-aircraft guns (Flak) in the surrounding area, making it difficult to strike such a narrow target from the air.
It wasn't until 15 August 1944 and the preparations for the Provence landings, that three waves of American bombers and the destroyer USS Brooklyn destroyed two pillars, making the viaduct impassable.
It's hard to imagine that this cove was also a landing beach. The beach played a strategic role, blocking any reinforcements from the Alpes-Maritimes. The 860 men of the 1st Battalion / 141st Regiment / 36th United States Infantry Division (from Texas) landed here.
The first two waves of the assault landed fairly easily. Then the Polish-Russian occupying forces (OST 661) rallied and opened fire on the attackers: machine guns and cannons were unleashed. Two barges were sunk, fortunately after disembarking their soldiers. Another was unable to leave the beach. The command boat was hit and had to return to the open sea. At 10 am, the beach was declared conquered.
The battalion then moved towards Agay before returning, more heavily armed, to advance as far as Théoule-sur-Mer. This was not reached until 16 August, due to the fierce resistance of the occupying troops. 1,200 occupants were taken prisoner.
A plaque on the viaduct commemorates this feat of arms.
2 airmen, 2 sailors and 5 infantrymen lost their lives here.
2751 boulevard Eugène Brieux, 87350 Saint-Raphaël