Armée des alpes Juin 1940
Sites > Haut-Rhône (Ain and Haute Savoie)
Location code: 455

Fighting on Rhône at BELLEGARDE

On 19 June, faced with German advance, the operational command ordered destruction of Bellegarde bridges.

Par Col (R) Claude GROSJEAN

Location code: 455
Access en voiture

On the evening of 19th, Coupy bridge was blown up, followed by Lucey and Nambin bridges, Arlod and Gresin footbridges, thus preventing any passage between the two banks of the Rhône.

Bellegarde Sub-District, which controlled the Rhône and its passages, had been held since 18 June by 1st company, 179 Fortress Alpine Battalion (BAF), under Captain Mairet, installed on the left bank, facing the town, 614 Pioneers Regiment and 141 Regional Regiment distributed in 7 strongpoints, including Dos de l'Âne, equipped with 2 anti-tank guns, 47 and 25 mm.

On 20 June, German reconnaissances of 13th Motorized Infantry Division (ID) of General Von Rothkirch, stationed near Bellegarde.

Regimental elements of Colonel Von Weber's 93 Infantry Regiment (IR-93) took possession of the town during the night of 21-22 June, and installed their mortars and 105mm artillery pieces on the heights facing the left bank.

On the morning of 22 June, the Alpine infantrymen of the strongpoints installed on the left bank discovered the presence of the enemy on the right bank and opened fire with their automatic weapons, inflicting heavy losses.

The Germans retaliated with heavy mortar and automatic weapons fire, followed by artillery, causing losses to the defenders, in particular the destruction of the two anti-tank guns of Dos de L'Âne.

Fire exchanges continued throughout the morning.

The Germans looked for ways to cross the Rhône, but faced with the Alpine infantrymen fire and the flow of the river, gave up all attempts while remaining in the town.

Génissiat dam, located downstream Bellegarde, was destroyed by submersion during the night of 22 to 23 June.




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