Armée des alpes Juin 1940
Sites > Haut-Rhône (Ain and Haute Savoie)
Location code: 007

Fightings on Saint Germain and La Chambotte passes

Faced with German advance in Chautagne, the Rhône Defense Sector (SDR) command wanted to hold the line of the two passes of Sapenay and Chambotte.

Par Col (R) Claude GROSJEAN

Location code: 7
Access en voiture


Ville de Rumilly (Henry Tracol photographe) musée de Rumilly

On the one hand Sapenay Pass defense included its outlet at Cessens, on the other hand Chambotte Pass was directly defended by 2nd company, 614 Pioneers Regiment (RP), 6th company, 614 RP being located at Saint Germain, hamlet of Villette.

The troops were in place by the evening of 22 June and organized their positions during the night.

On the morning of 23 June, German reconnaissance parties of 2 Battalion, 93 Infantry Regiment (IR-93) left Chindrieux with the objective of taking Chambotte Pass.

Advancing along the small road leading to the pass, they came up against defenders solidly entrenched in the last bends and the access tunnel to the pass, suffering heavy losses.

Germans were determined to take the pass, but after several assaults in the morning and despite heavy pounding by the 6x77mm guns located at Culoz, had to withdraw downhill and take cover under the natural overhangs of the road.

Unable to take Chambotte Pass, Germans of 2 Battalion decided at around midday to infiltrate from the Chambotte road, via the forest tracks of Mont Laval, towards Cessens via the Tour de César, and then, joining up with the 3 Battalion, still blocked in front of ND de la Salette, forced the French to fall back on Cessens.

At 5pm, the Germans occupied Cessens and installed two artillery pieces on the heights of the village.

Infantrymen of 3 Battalion resumed their advance towards Saint-Germain, which they occupied at around 6 p.m., cutting off the retreat of the defenders of Chambotte Pass, who had been warned too late, and capturing half of the troops.

Faced with the loss of the two passes and their outlets, and in order to delay the enemy's progression towards La Biolle, French command improvised a line of defense around the hamlet of Villette with elements of 614 RP and 141 RR, reinforced by a 25mm cannon and a  machine-guns platoon. At 7pm, the Germans approached the hamlet and were shot at by the defenders, causing them many casualties.

Faced with this unexpected resistance and supported by its artillery from Cessens, the enemy overran the village from the north, forcing the French to retreat to La Biolle.

During the night of 23 to 24 June, Germans penetrated Albens totally evacuated by the French forces retreating to the right bank of the Chéran.



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