Fayence area

The center of the Seillans to Montauroux region consists of a long plain through which the Camiole River flows. The villages of Seillans, Fayence, Tourrettes, Callian, and Montauroux are all built on the hillsides north of the plain, providing excellent vantage points from which the D562, the road from Grasse to Draguignan passing through the plain, can be monitored.

On August 15, the entire Serial 7, about 670 paratroopers from the 3/517th PIR under Lt. Col. Melvin Zais, along with the Regimental Headquarters, Service Company, and 3rd Platoon of the 596th Airborne Engineer Company, are mistakenly dropped 40 kilometers from their DZ in three main groups, scattered over more than 13 kilometers in the Fayence region. They find themselves scattered across rocky terrain and pine forests, spanning from Seillans (the westernmost village of the SNAFU) to Montauroux. Many paratroopers sustain injuries as they land on rocky slopes and mountain terraces.

A similar situation occurs for the British forces. About 30% of the 6th Para Battalion is mistakenly dropped in the Fayence area. Likewise, a portion of the 4th Para Battalion (60%), including the commanding officer, Lt. Col. Victor H. B. 'Vic' Coxen, is mistakenly dropped near Fayence, Callas, and Saint-Paul-en-Forêt due to drop errors. However, the entire 5th ‘Scottish’ Parachute Battalion lands in the region and is split into four groups.

In Seillans, Lt. Col. Zais gathers his troops and heads south towards Drop Zone A. The commanding officer of the 3rd Battalion's HQ Company, Capt. Joseph McGeever, takes command of 60 men gathered in the cemetery of Tourrettes and in the olive groves below the village.

For the British, the first group under the command of Lt. Col. Hunter splits into three other groups to join the command of the 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade, with the last arriving around 22:30. Major Hart's group and the majority of 'C' Coy also move south and arrive safely in the Mitan area in the evening. The group of Major Blackwood, consisting of 80 men, eventually joins Capt. Joseph McGeever's group, while the fourth group finds itself alone for several days, trying to find its way.

The remainder of the 3rd Battalion's troops, about 260 men, are dropped in the Camiole Valley, between Fayence and Callian. In the morning, a group from the Regimental Headquarters and the 3rd Platoon of the 596th Ab. Engr. Co. dropped in this area, sets up an ambush at the crossroads south of Fayence.

A group of about twenty paratroopers meets 1st Lt. Ludlow J. Gibbons' group from H Company, which falls under his command. Gibbons' group moves southwest in the afternoon until it meets McGeever's unit on the D562. The latter is also joined by a group of about 80 British and American paratroopers under Major Blackwood's command. The paratroopers at the crossroads also join McGeever and Blackwood's group. This entire force then heads south towards the landing zones.

Once the majority of the Allied paratroopers leave the Fayence region to join their actual drop zones in the Le Muy/Les Arcs/La Motte triangle, the region is partially reoccupied by German troops, with the largest contingent still in Fayence. Many paratroopers remain in the Fayence region to conduct guerrilla warfare until they are extracted.

On the evening of August 16, the 148th Infantry Division receives a message from the Korps in Draguignan to immediately send a reinforced battalion with artillery to Draguignan. This battalion is dispatched on the D562 from Grasse but never reaches Draguignan. Throughout its journey on the D562 from Montauroux, the convoy is subjected to numerous ambushes by American and British paratroopers. Occupied since the evening of August 16 and with the presence of this armored vehicle in Draguignan, the convoy is also attacked 8km from the city. The remaining battalion elements therefore retreat to Fayence.

Between August 16 and 18, the paratroopers manage to communicate with the forces landed from the beaches, notably the 141st Infantry Regiment. They set up ground recognition panels to direct aerial resupplies and even coordinate air attacks on the D562. Isolated paratroopers also transmit information about the German stronghold at La Roche in Fayence.

By around August 18, the Germans return to the Fayence area and occupy Callian and Montauroux, reinforcing their garrison in Fayence. Elements of Res.Gren.Btl.327 and 372 as well as the Pz.Jag.Kp.14 of the Res.Gren.Rgt.8 take control of Callian and Montauroux, reinforcing the stronghold at La Roche in Fayence.

On August 19, the 517th PRCT, based in the Muy region, is ordered to advance and relieve the 141st IR in the Fayence region, allowing the regiment to be sent to another sector. Ironically, the 3/517th PIR, which returned three days earlier, must replace the 141st IR and arrives in the region on August 20.

The 2/517th PIR, also arriving, is tasked with taking Fayence. However, an OSS team, dropped several days before the invasion, negotiates a surrender with the enemy garrison at La Roche in Fayence on August 20. It executes the following morning, and 184 prisoners are taken without combat.

By noon on August 21, the entire area from Fayence to Callian is secured without major combat, with most of the fighting occurring with the 141st IR. The Fayence region is definitively liberated, with the remaining German troops retreating towards Grasse.



The 517's GANG

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