Saint-Cézaire is a village situated on a steep cliff overlooking the Siagne River, at the border of Var and Alpes-Maritimes. The Siagne River itself has a depth of about 300 meters, with steep walls. Isolated, the village does not harbor any German garrison on D-Day.

After the capture of Callian and Montauroux, Major Forest S. Paxton's 3/517th PIR continues its advance towards Saint-Cézaire, located 6 km to the north. Following the liberation of Fayence, the paratroopers receive orders to liberate the town. From Saint-Cézaire, white parachutes can be seen on the Var plateau between Fayence and Montauroux.

Departing Montauroux at 3:30 p.m., the battalion snakes north until it sights the town. At the time, numerous terraced crops can be seen.

The attack plan is simple. The G Company is to encircle the village while the I Company is ordered to cross the ravine preceding the town and launch a frontal assault. From Callian, the D Company of the 83rd Chemical Battalion fires at targets in Saint-Cézaire. After several barrages without any sign of the enemy, artillery observers conclude that the town has been evacuated, but meanwhile, the G Company has already begun crossing the Siagne River following the road, beginning the ascent of the village.

The I Company crosses the Siagne River on foot. As they start climbing the cliff, the artillery ceases fire. As if on cue, the Germans emerge from their shelter and unleash heavy mortar and machine gun fire on the I Company, halfway up the cliff. With extraordinary courage, the soldiers continue to climb, and as night falls, they attack with rifles and grenades.

By midnight, Saint-Cézaire is liberated. Twenty-one Germans are reported killed and an unknown number wounded. In the ranks of the 517th Companies, five are reported killed and twenty wounded.

The village must have been significant to the Germans as engineers from the 596th remove 32 Tellermines from a field north of the village. Numerous explosives and traps are found in the streets and wells of Saint-Cézaire. The capture of Saint-Cézaire has just eliminated the last major German resistance pocket in the 517th zone west of the Var River.
For this action, the G & I Companies receive a "Task Force Commendation" from Task Force Commander Major General Robert Frederick.

To the south, the 1SSF also aims to cross the Siagne River. The 3rd Regiment, with the 1st Battalion on the left flank and the 2nd on the right, begins its march around 1 p.m. and heads south of the Siagne without encountering opposition. Following the German retreat, all bridges have been cut, and the Forcemen must find fords to cross, as well as the bridge over the Siagne facing Les Veyans. A small team of scouts from the 1-3 is tasked with crossing the river and finding a route of advance for the regiment. On this occasion, a Forceman tragically loses his life in a friendly fire incident, Pvt. Frank Brown.

At 9 p.m., the 1st Battalion seizes the Les Veyans district at the foot of the municipality of St. Cézaire, capturing it with little opposition.

On the 2nd Battalion side, the approach to the south bank of the Siagne River also appears to have been somewhat confused but manages to reach the other side. Following this advance, a footbridge is constructed by the 887th Airborne Engineer Aviation Company at the bridge over the Siagne.

During the night of August 22nd to 23rd, the 3rd Regiment continues to advance towards Le Tignet and is held back by machine gun fire in the village. Overcoming this difficulty, the liberation of Le Tignet occurs without too much trouble during the night, and the FSSF continues its progression towards Grasse along the D562.



The 517's GANG

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