Operation Dragoon.
WWII

France Marks 75th Anniversary Of 'Second D-Day'

Two thousand ships and 450,000 soldiers took part in the amphibious assault on the beaches of the Mediterranean.

Operation Dragoon.

Operation Dragoon is thought to have accelerated the German retreat (Picture: Wikimedia Commons).

Today marks the 75th anniversary of 'Operation Dragoon', when the French military staged its own alternative D-Day landing in Provence.

The landings took place on 15 August 1944, two months after the D-Day invasion in Normandy.

A total of 2,000 ships and 450,000 soldiers were involved in the amphibious assault on the beaches of the Mediterranean - 250,000 of them French fighters, setting foot on home soil for the first time in four years. 

Operation Dragoon is regarded to have accelerated the German retreat.

While D-Day itself involved hardly any French troops, Dragoon was planned by General Charles De Gaulle and led to the liberation of Provence in less than two weeks.

Dragoon began on this day in 1944 with the code phrase for French resistance fighters "Nancy has a stiff neck".

French President Emmanuel Macron led commemorations at the national cemetery in Saint Raphael.

During the service, Mr Macron addressed veterans from several countries, thanking them for their service.

He said: "You gave back our country its freedom and dignity.

"You gave back our flag its colours and its motto to our people... It's our duty to preserve it, hand it down, to make it bear fruit against darkness and ignorance."

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara and Guinea counterpart Alpha Conde also took part in the ceremony.

At Thursday's ceremony, Mr Macron urged French mayors to name streets after African soldiers, acknowledging that for decades they "didn't have the glory and esteem that their bravery deserved".

A military choir sang The Song Of The Africans, while fighter jets flew over the necropolis, trailing blue, white and red smoke to represent the French flag.