France opened a weekend tribute Saturday to the American, French and African soldiers who helped liberate its land from Nazi Germany’s grip in one of the least-remembered military operations of World War II: the Allied invasion of the Riviera.
On the eve of a ceremony involving heads of state from 15 nations and representatives from six other countries mainly former African colonies France thanked British and American veterans of Operation Dragoon for their role in what is called “the other D-Day.”
Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade says he will establish an annual holiday on Aug. 23 to commemorate the “forgotten” role the hundreds of thousands of African troops played in France’s World War II liberation.
The operation came 10 weeks after the bigger, bloodier Normandy invasion of June 6, 1944, and pushed German troops into a closing Allied pincer movement.
Nine British paratroopers and nine American soldiers, among more than 350,000 troops who stormed ashore Aug. 15, 1944, received the Legion of Honor, France’s highest award, in separate ceremonies Saturday.0