Les Arcs

The village of Les Arcs is located approximately six and a half kilometers southwest of Le Muy and at the intersection of Route N7 and a road leading from Trans-en-Provence to Vidauban. Just south of Les Arcs, a railroad runs along the north side of Route N7. South of the town, Roque Rousse, a height of about 250 meters, is the objective of Major William Boyle's 1st Battalion. The control allows monitoring of the entire valley between Les Arcs and Le Muy. No Germans are present in Les Arcs, as they left the area the previous day.

In the early morning of August 15th, Maj. William Boyle, who landed northwest of the village, encounters half a dozen paratroopers and French locals who inform him about the direction of Les Arcs.

Most of the men from the 1st Battalion en route to their objective bypass these hills, either heading north via Trans-en-Provence or south toward Les Arcs. The handful of paratroopers entering the village in the morning are welcomed by the locals. Among them are Captain Young, Battalion S-3, and Assistant Surgeon Captain James MacNamara. Continuing south and passing the railway, they encounter the German garrison that evacuated the town the previous day. The small group of paratroopers decides to stay put, unable to advance further toward the objective south of the town.

In the afternoon, Maj. Boyle enters Les Arcs. Deciding to continue toward his objective, he and his paratroopers come under heavy small-arms fire due to the German counterattack, forcing them back to the outskirts of Les Arcs to form a defensive perimeter. The enemy is fully engaged in the battle, with firefights breaking out intermittently. Most of the built-up area is along the north-south road beyond the railway. At the southern end of the town, Major Boyle and his men hold off the Germans throughout D-Day from the southern end of the buildings. The enemy fiercely resists and is reinforced by the equivalent of an entire battalion.

The next day, on August 16th, a counterattack from Kampfgruppe Brundel strikes the village from the southwest. The fighting intensifies, and Boyle is pinned down in the village. In the early morning, the Germans enter the village, and Maj. Boyle decides to evacuate. He insists that no wounded be left behind. He personally patrols the rear under enemy fire while his men evacuate one by one, crawling. Carrying the wounded, the small group maneuvers all day between different groups of Germans. C Battery of the 460th PFAB rushes to provide artillery fire to relieve the pressure on Boyle's forces. Throughout the day, under heavy enemy fire, Boyle leads his small group out of the German encirclement. Around 8:00 a.m., the village falls into the hands of Kampfgruppe Brundel's troops, and reconnaissance patrols even push as far as Trans-en-Provence!

The 2/517 was supposed to arrive in the morning of th to relieve the pressure on Boyle. The 2nd Battalion had two missions on August 16th: to relieve Captain Fraser from his original objective, which was originally assigned to the 3rd Battalion (to take the hill between Sainte-Roseline and Les Arcs), and to free Lt. Col. Boyle and his men from Les Arcs.

Dick Seitz, who was 5 kilometers north of Les Arcs, pushed forward with his battalion to join Boyle just as the Germans began assembling their forces in the outskirts of the town for a mass counterattack.

Around 9:00 a.m., two platoons from Lieutenant Loren James's D Company (Dave Armstrong having been seriously injured during the jump) entered Les Arcs from the north. The 2nd Platoon moved toward the southern end of the town and managed to make contact with some of Boyle's men and set up a defense a few hundred meters from the train station.

Skirmishes continued throughout the day. The Germans' efforts to regroup were hampered by small arms fire and mortar rounds from the 4.2-inch mortars (from the 83rd Chemical Battalion), and P51s dropped 500-kilo bombs along the railway. Eight or ten men from Dog Company were wounded. With the help of a French doctor and German prisoners, a first aid station was set up in a hotel. In the mid-afternoon, Fox Company arrived and took up positions in the north of the village.

Around 2:00 p.m., the two exhausted columns of the 3rd Battalion under Melvin Zais, mistakenly parachuted into the Fayence area, reached La Motte, and by 4:00 p.m., they arrived at Château Sainte Roseline, concluding a forced march of about forty kilometers. Although they were exhausted, disorganized, and short of officers and men who did not join those who made the march, the battalion received orders to set off by late afternoon to take the valley south of the railway and team up with the 2nd Battalion.

The D Company of the 83rd Chemical Battalion unleashed a veritable phosphorus storm on the Les Arcs valley just before the attack of the 3rd Battalion of the 517th at the end of the day on August 16th. At 8:00 p.m., the 3/517 attacked from the east through a vineyard north of the railway, which was infested with German machine gun nests and well covered by enemy defenses behind the railway embankments. However, the attack fizzled out.

At his command post at Sainte-Roseline, Colonel Rupert Graves was very concerned that Les Arcs was still in German hands. It became essential to dislodge the Germans before the morning of August 17th. A firing mission was coordinated between Ray Cato's 460th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion and the D Company of the 83rd Chemical Battalion. Everyone on site, including company officers, participated in supplying the cannons. This allowed for continuous fire on suspected German strongholds, with a thousand shells fired in just 20 minutes. The village was liberated on August 17th at the break of dawn.



The 517's GANG

45 €




50 €