France honors African veterans of World War II landings

Soldiers stand guard as they wait for French President Emmanuel Macron during a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the Allied landings in Provence in World War Two which helped liberate southern France, in Boulouris

French President Emmanuel Macron attends a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the WWII Allied landings in Provence, in Saint-Raphael, southern France, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019. Starting on Aug. 15, 1944, French and American troops — 350,000 in total — landed on the French Riviera. U.S. forces drove north while French troops — many from French colonies in Africa — moved along the coast to secure key ports. (Eric Gaillard/POOL via AP)

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

PARIS (AP) — It’s sometimes called “the forgotten D-Day,” the crucial but overshadowed Allied invasion of the French Riviera to push back the Nazis.

France held an elaborate military ceremony Thursday to remember it 75 years on — and especially, to honor the many soldiers from African sent from French colonies to take part.

“You gave back our country its freedom and dignity,” French President Emmanuel Macron told veterans from several countries at a necropolis in the French town of Saint-Raphael.

“You gave back our flag its colors and its motto to our people … It’s our duty to preserve it, hand it down, to make it bear fruit against darkness and ignorance.”

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara and Guinea President Alpha Conde also took part in the ceremony.

Starting Aug. 15, 1944, hundreds of thousands of primarily U.S. and French troops landed on the Mediterranean coast for Operation Dragoon. It was intended to coincide with the D-Day invasion in Normandy in June but was delayed due to a lack of resources.

Africans made up as much as half the French contingent, indigenous soldiers from what are now some two dozen independent countries.

Operation Dragoon enabled the Allies to liberate most of southern France in only four weeks. Soldiers from the Normandy landings met troops from Operation Dragoon on Sept. 12 near Dijon, in the eastern region of Burgundy.

At Thursday’s ceremony, Macron urged French mayors to name streets after African soldiers, acknowledging that for decades they “didn’t have the glory and esteem that their bravery deserved.”

A military choir sang “The Song of the Africans,” while some veterans joined in. Fighter jets flew over the necropolis, trailing blue, white and red smoke to represent the French flag.

There is no definitive Allied death toll, but the French Defense Ministry says 1,300 Allied soldiers died in the operation’s first two days.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Recent Videos

Bismarck Representatives

Thumbnail for the video titled "Bismarck Representatives"

Bismarck Capitals Baseball

Thumbnail for the video titled "Bismarck Capitals Baseball"

Thursday, July 9th, 2020 - KX Storm Team Evening Forecast - Dave Holder

Thumbnail for the video titled "Thursday, July 9th, 2020 - KX Storm Team Evening Forecast - Dave Holder"

MHA Nation Voting

Thumbnail for the video titled "MHA Nation Voting"

911 Addresses

Thumbnail for the video titled "911 Addresses"

ERG Breakdown

Thumbnail for the video titled "ERG Breakdown"

AARC Help

Thumbnail for the video titled "AARC Help"

Ag Field Days

Thumbnail for the video titled "Ag Field Days"

Daycare Reopening

Thumbnail for the video titled "Daycare Reopening"

Beet Bucks

Thumbnail for the video titled "Beet Bucks"

Souris Valley Sabre Dogs

Thumbnail for the video titled "Souris Valley Sabre Dogs"

Big Boy Changes

Thumbnail for the video titled "Big Boy Changes"

BisMarket for Kids

Thumbnail for the video titled "BisMarket for Kids"

Velva Bridge

Thumbnail for the video titled "Velva Bridge"

Garrison PD Staffing

Thumbnail for the video titled "Garrison PD Staffing"

Tioga Plant

Thumbnail for the video titled "Tioga Plant"

Amber's Thursday Morning #OneMinuteForecast 7/9

Thumbnail for the video titled "Amber's Thursday Morning #OneMinuteForecast 7/9"

NDC JULY 9

Thumbnail for the video titled "NDC JULY 9"

Thursday's Forecast: Sunny & cooler with storm chances tomorrow

Thumbnail for the video titled "Thursday's Forecast: Sunny & cooler with storm chances tomorrow"

Mandan Flower Project

Thumbnail for the video titled "Mandan Flower Project"
More Video

KX News Trending Stories

Don't Miss