*** Operation Anton: Operation Lila

Operation Anton: Operation Lila (November 1942)

Figure 1.--Operation Lila was the most important part of Operation Anton, the German occupation of Vichy. The objective was to seize the French fleet at Toulon. Here we see a Germn panzer on November 27 stnding helpless with a scuttled French battleship in the background. The German Panzers had raced to Toulon, but somehow the French Naval commanders managed to convince the Germans to wait outside the port for 2 weeks. Meanwhile the French were rigging their ships to be scutled.

Operation Anton included Operation Lila with the objective of capturing the substantial French fleet ships at Toulon. It was carried out by the 7th Panzer Division reinforced with units from other divisions. Four combat groups including two armoured groups and a motorcycle battalion from 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich formed a spearhead to rush tioward Toulon. Marine detachment Gumprich was assigned specifically to get on board the major ships and prevent scuttling oprrations. French naval commanders somehow managed to keep their ships out of German hands in fact, denying the Germans a major prise. The Germans launched a heavy assault. The fleet was in Toulon on the Mediterranean coast, but the Germans reached the coast (November 11). Amazingly naval crews used deception tactics to delay the enemy. Somehow the French naval commanders managed to delay the Germans for 2 weeks. We re not sure how they managed this given tht the fleet was potentially a major military prize at a time that the War was going so badly badly against the Germans. The French scuttled their vessels (November 27). This ws before the Germnd finally arrived. The Germans managed to seize only 39 small ships, while the French destroyed 77 vessels including all the larger ships (November 27). Three battleships, seven cruisers, 28 destroyers, and 20 submarines were scuttled under the noses of the Germans. A few submarines managed to escape to North Africa now in Free French and Allied hands.


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Created: 5:16 AM 7/24/2022
Last updated: 5:16 AM 7/24/2022