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The Other Invasion of France - 15 August 1944

by Thomas J. Nott 1710117

Contributed by 
Thomas J. Nott 1710117
People in story: 
Thomas J. Nott (1710117)
Location of story: 
Cavaliere, Southern France
Background to story: 
Royal Air Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
04 August 2004

The Other Invasion of France — Southern France 15 August 1944

Among my medals for service in the various campaigns of World War 2 is the France and Germany Star, awarded to all those on active service in those countries. Everyone is familiar with the invasion of Northern France on 6 June 1944. However, few people are aware of the other invasion of France at Cavalière on 15 August 1944, which I took part in.

The invasion force consisted of American troops and the Free French from North Africa. The French make a ‘big thing’ of the event annually at Cavalière, where there is a memorial to the Free French and the Americans. Apparently, however, there is no mention of the British involvement there - a small but important one.

I was a member of the HQ Signals section of 324 Wing of the RAF with its four Spitfire Squadrons: 43, 72, 93 and 111 and 93 RSU (Repair and Salvage Unit). We were a small, essential unit in support of 324 Wing Spitfires which were active over the whole area before, during and after the invasion, flying from the airstrip at Calvi in Corsica. We were the signals link in case any of our planes had to make a forced landing — on a short strip to be created by a small army engineers unit.

Our convoy approached from the Sardinia and Corsica direction and after a night at sea the mountains of Southern France showed up ahead. Following allied Navy and air bombardments along the coast from Toulon to Cannes, the invasion took place about 4am that day. We moved into a little bay some miles west of Cavalière. It was a beautiful scene with pine trees coming down to the sea over a rocky hillside to the sandy beach below. All was quiet surprisingly. Not much opposition had been met and the invading forces overwhelmed the German coastal units at that point.

With no German aircraft in the sky and the Americans from Northern France getting to the German border, we were no longer needed and so withdrew from France via Marseille to Italy — to Florence, then over to the Adriatic at Rimini, then to Ravenna and thence into Austria at Klagenfurt the day after the Germans surrendered.

324 Wing thus had taken part in four invasions in the Mediterranean area: Sicily, Salerno, Anzio and Cavalière. Why have I written this? In the hope that the RAF’s 324 Wing will be acknowledged as having played a part in the invasion of Southern France in August 1944 —sixty years ago.

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