Saint-Cézaire

The 517th Parachute Regimental Combat Team is the unit of the First Airborne Task Force furthest north of the frontline

After taking Callian and Montauroux, the 3/517 continues to Saint-Cézaire, 7 kilometers north. They have orders, after taking Fayence, to liberate the city. From Saint-Cézaire we can see the white parachutes on the Var plateau between Fayence and Montauroux.

Located at the top of high cliffs, the city occupies a position of natural defense overlooking the Siagne river. Although looking deserted from an observation post held by the RHQ/517, a patrol discovers that the city is held by a hundred of Germans soldiers.

The I Company has order to cross the ravine that precedes the town while the G Company must bypass it and take it from another side.

"Saint Cézaire was a goal of the 3rd Battalion.” Says Lieutenant Howard Hensleigh. “G and I Company were to lead the assault. The G was commanded by Captain Grant Hooper and the I Company by Martin Fastia, but unofficially by Lieutenant James P. Birder and the other lieutenants of the company. H Company, commanded by "Skip" Morris, was in reserve. The HQ Company, commanded by Captain Joseph McGeever, was in support."
The attack is scheduled for 19 hours. The George Company must encircle the village while the Item Company launches a frontal assault. Moving companies are covered by the artillery of the 460th PFAB.

After several shootings without sign of the enemy, Artillery Obervers conclude that the city was evacuated. Meanwhile, I/517 crosses Siagne river and is faced with enemy mortar and machine gun fire. G Company is also immobilized. I Company’ troopers continue their ascent and take the German positions as soon as it is dark, where they are met by mortar fire.
When advancing on the city, Germans can be seen coming out of the houses and going to get in position at the sight of the ravine.
Frank Dallas says, " I don’t remember many of my thoughts as I was going up the cliff
I was 18 [years old] and just did it … I do know I didn’t want to get spotted. We suffered quite a few casualties. We were pinned down with machine gun fire and mortars. Fortunately, a lot of the mortars were duds or we would really have had casualties" When the I Company is in front of the city of Saint-Cézaire, the 2nd Platoon of the I Company is under a barrage of mortar fire and automatic weapons.

"Guys were dying around me. I had to do something.” Sgt. Dallas, Squad Leader in the 2nd Platoon suddenly rushes through a breach, under enemy fire. Upon reaching the cliff’s base, he began climbing. The cliff was indented with large crevices and plateaus, which made Dallas’ climb easier. Before long, Dallas found himself behind the Germans. “I just started eliminating the Germans one by one. After the fifth one, six more came after me. They kept spraying with automatic weapons, but I just kept running around to different spots, popping up and shooting.” After Dallas took out the German mortars, his company joined in the assault and drove the Germans off the cliff and out of St. Cezaire. He killed most of the Germans himself

The company was able to progress and hunt the Germans of Saint Cézaire. During the first moments of the assault, a very experienced German sniper kills two men with a bullet in the head,

At midnight, Saint-Cézaire is in American hands. There are 21 Germans killed and an unknown number of wounded. In the ranks of the companies of 517th there are five dead and twenty wounded.

The village was to be important to the Germans because the Engineers of the 596th Parachute Engineer Company removed 32 Tellermines from a field in the north of the village. Many explosives and booby traps were found in the streets and wells of Saint Cezaire. This battle had just eliminated the last large pocket of German resistance in the area of ​​517th west of the Var.

For this action the George & Item Company receive a "Task Force Commendation" from the Task Force Commander, Major General Robert Frederick.

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