26124 COMBAT BULLETIN 17 INVASION OF SOUTHERN FRANCE 14th AIR FORCE IN CHINA JEEP RAILROAD

This 1944 U.S. War Department Combat Bulletin (No. 17) gives viewers a look at Operation Dragoon, the Allied push south after D-Day, Fighting in Burman, and a naval battle in the Pacific off the coast of the Mariana Islands. The bulletin begins with footage of Operation Dragoon. The Allied fleet waits for orders to invade Southern France. Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal discuses the operation on deck (00:39). The Allied convoy moves toward the French coast. Men make last-minute preparations on the decks, loading guns and stocking rations. Waco CG-4 Glider planes and C-47s take off for an airborne assault behind Nazi defenses (01:42). Footage shows the gliders landing, with several crashing. C-47s fly in the sky transporting hundreds of paratroopers (03:10). The paratroopers put on their helmets and begin to jump: there is a good aerial shot of the paratroopers landing. Paratroopers move through a rocky ravine and across rivers. They meet with French resistance forces. The 451st Bombing Group sits for a briefing. They take off (05:26), then they begin the bombing raid over Southern France. Fighter planes—they appear to be Lockheed P-38 Lightnings—strafe ground targets (07:00). Allied naval ships shell the French coast. Landing craft carry troops to shore (07:50). Troops arrive at beach east of San Rafael and meet heavy resistance. The Allied troops advance inland (09:18), walking through trees and across fields. On the beach, viewers see reinforcements and equipment brought ashore. More soldiers hit the beach and follow the first wave inland. Men rest near an abandoned German gun nest (10:44). A damaged landing craft sits immobile next to the beach (11:10). Trucks drive off the LSTs, and tanks and trucks driving along the Riviera. Army Engineers bulldoze trees and level earth to build an airstrip (12:10). Next, the bulletin takes viewers to northern France, where liberated French line up to get radio sets in a Normandy town (13:05). Troops move into St. James (14:04). French women and girls greet the Allied troops on the road. Viewers see freed American paratroopers (14:44), who were captured during D-Day operations, as well as collaborators rounded up by French citizens (15:07). U.S. troops fire artillery guns at Nazi targets (16:26). Troops march along roads and over fields. Troops enter Mayenne on 6 August (17:18); much of the town has been reduced to rubble. Allied forces arrive at the Laval highway junction. A tank drives through a street in Laval. Fighting occurs across the river separating Laval. U.S. troops fire mortars on San Malo. Soldiers push into the outskirts of the city. There is footage of intense street combat. Prisoners are escorted out onto the street (20:29). British tanks slowly move along a road in Brittany; a scorpion tank clears mines on the road (20:50). British artillery units come under Nazi fire. Allied troops enter Villers-Bocage on 4 August (21:38) and slowly sweep for mines. Soldiers pass through the complete destroyed town of Aunay-sur-Odon (22:50). Next, footage from Burma. Chinese troops use a makeshift ferry to move across a flooded area (23:14). A damaged railway bridge near Mogaung is repaired by a unit of Sikhs (24:35). A jeep locomotive pulls six light cars on railroad tracks in Mogaung. Troops ride on flatcars. P-40 Warhawks of the 14th Air Force are loaded with bombs (26:30) and then dive-bomb targets. Allied forces look over artillery abandoned by the Japanese. A monkey sits on one of the guns. Men look at a 1941 Chevrolet that is part of the former Japanese motor pool (28:15). Chindits (long range penetration groups, especial operations units) are evacuated to Kamaing (28:30); there are some good close-up shots of these men. A mobile hospital cares for the sick and wounded Chindits. Chinese troops train under U.S. instructors (30:30). They drill and run through an obstacle course. They then go in full camo fas part of General Joseph Stilwell’s army. Stilwell is met in Colombo, Ceylon, by Brig. General Frank Merrill. The bulletin’s final segment features footage of fierce fighting during a sea battle as Japanese forces attack an Allied Task Force during a battle off the Mariana Islands. A seaplane takes off from a carrier. Grumman F6F Hellcats and TBF Avengers extend their wings on the flight decks and take off (33:08). Japanese bombers attack the task force (33:54), and viewers see heavy fighting, a plane crashing into the sea, and American gunners firing at Japanese planes. A plane on fire arcs up in the sky before crashing down into the sea (36:00). The bulletin concludes with footage of a crippled plane landing on an American carrier.

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