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Operation Dragoon   >   Background

   
 

Background to Operation Dragoon


A World War I hero, Marshal Henri Philippe Pétain (usually known as "Philippe Pétain"), was the leader of the Vichy French collaborationist regime. After the war, Pétain was convicted of treason and sentenced to death, but this was commuted to life imprisonment by Charles de Gaulle.

Petain with Goring
France had been defeated by Germany early in the war, back in 1940. While some French forces committed to fight on under the Free French banner, mainland France was governed by a collaborationist regime known as "Vichy France".

The Germans then occupied all of Northern and Western France, including the entire English Channel and Atlantic coasts, but left the Southern part of the country unoccupied and under control of the Vichy government. However, as the war began to turn against Germany, the Germans began to doubt the loyalty of the Vichy government had thus occupied the remaining parts of France in late 1942 after the French colonies in Northwest Africa had fallen to the Allied invasion of Operation Torch.

In 1943, the war situation continued to worsen for Germany. On the Eastern Front, they were defeated at Stalingrad (Volgograd), and in the Battle of Kursk. Meanwhile the Western Allies, defeated the Axis forces in North Africa, drove Italy out of the war, after landings in Sicily and the Italian mainland (although the Germans managed to retain control of Northern parts of Italy), and had launched a strategic bombing campaign against German industry and cities.

On June 6th 1944, D-Day, the Western Allies invaded German-occupied France in Operation Overlord, an amphibious landing in Normandy. Less than two months later, they were to launch a second invasion of France, this time on the Southern Mediterranean coast, in Operation Dragoon...


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