Detailed plan of the Cote d'Azur town of St. Raphael by the 649th Engineer Battalion, made during the planning stages of Operation Dragoon, when American soldiers landed just east of the town.
The 36th Division Army was tasked with controlling the area between Port Fréjus and Anthéor, termed Camel Beach, which was one of the hardest-fought beaches of the Operation. The central third of the occupation and landing area is shown here in great detail. St. Raphael itself saw a pitched battle between French Army B and the 36th Division Army against the German 19th Army in the town and surrounding countryside.
St. Raphael today has greatly expanded to being a classic French Riviera town on the outskirts of Cannes. Some streets have been renamed and the port has been revamped.
Operation Dragoon was originally planned to coincide with Operation Overlord, the Allied landing in Normandy, on 6 June. It was envisioned as a two-pronged attack, however, it was realized that too many resources would need to be diverted from Normandy to make the landings in the south feasible.
By early August, interest in reviving the second front had been revived, supported by the French who wanted to liberate their territory more quickly and the Russians who wanted Allied efforts focused in the west. The landings were opposed by the English, who thought that the resources would be better spent augmenting Allied forces in Italy and moving them through to the Balkans, where they could deny German access to the region's oil fields. Nevertheless, the Operation took place on August 15th and saw early success before stalling to the north.
In the eastern sector of Operation Dragoon, Camel Beach saw the heaviest action. This beach was defended by several well-emplaced coastal guns, as well as flak batteries. Through heavy German fire, the Allies attempted to land at the shore. However, at sector Red of the Camel Beach landing zone, the Allies were not able to succeed. A bombing run of 90 Allied B-24 bombers was called in against a German strongpoint here. Even with the assistance of naval fire, the Allies were not able to bring the landing ships close to the shore. They decided to avoid Camel Red and land only in the sectors of Camel Blue and Camel Green, which was successful.