The politics of disappointment: Liberation in the South



Whilst more and more American material poured through Cherbourg, and the Allied armies arrived within sight of the Seine, the Landings in the south of France started on 15 August 1944. This débarquement was different from the one that had taken place in Normandy in several important ways. First, the Landing forces in the South were considerably smaller than those which had crossed the Channel for the ‘D’ Day assault, and they contained a sizeable contribution from the French Army. The Allied land forces were grouped into the 7th Army, commanded by the American, General Patch. This comprised eleven divisions, including the Armée B of General de Lattre. In manpower, the balance of forces was around 230,000 French and 120,000 American,1 although the first landings on French soil were largely the responsibility of the Americans. In the French Army, the Army of Africa, there was a preponderance of troops from the French Empire: Algeria and Morroco, and Central or West Africa.2 Pamphlets which the Allies dropped over the southern zones in preparation for the Liberation made much of the active participation of French forces in the Landings: ‘French forces are participating in this operation, beside their Allied brothers in arms, on the sea, the land and the air. The French Army is once more a reality. It is fighting on its own soil to liberate the Mother country, with all its traditions of victory. Remember 1918!’3


Civil Affair French Authority General Patch American Troop French Soldier 
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  1. 1.
    A. Maury, ‘Le Groupe de commandos d’Afrique dans la Libération de la région toulonnaise, Provence Historique, vol. 36, no. 144, avril-mai-juin 1986, p. 143.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    M. Morsy, ‘La part des troupes maghrébines dans les combats de la Libération’, Provence Historique, vol. 36, no. 144, avril-mai-juin 1986, p. 171.Google Scholar
  3. 9.
    H.L. Coles, and A.K. Weinberg, Civil Affairs: Soldiers Become Governors (Washington DC: Dept. of the Army, 1964), p. 757,Google Scholar
  4. 21.
    See for example, P. Guiral, Libération de Marseille (Paris: Hachette, 1974), p. 44.Google Scholar
  5. 28.
    J.-L. Crémieux-Brilhac, (ed.) Les Voix de la Liberté: Ici Londres, vol. 5 (Paris: La Documentation française, 1975), p. 198, 20 August 1944.Google Scholar

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© Hilary Footitt 2004

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