Armée des alpes Juin 1940
Sites > Haut-Rhône (Ain and Haute Savoie)
Location code: 735

Fightings on Sapenay and Cessens passes

Faced with German advance, Rhone Defense Sector (SDR) command set the objective of holding the line of the passes in order to prevent seizure of Annecy and Aix- les-Bains.

Par Col (R) Claude GROSJEAN

Location code: 735
Access en voiture


Coll. Claude Grosjean

On 23 June, after having taken and occupied Chindrieux, 3 Battalion, 93 Infantry Regiment (IR-93), advanced on the road leading to Sapenay Pass, which had been defended by the 27th Company,141 Regional Regiment (RR) since 22 June.

Terrain was organized in a series of strongpoints, spread out in depth, from under the pass to its outlet, Notre-Dame de la Salette chapel, overlooking Cessens.

An access road situated further south, coming from the hamlets of Carabin and Tour de César, was put under surveillance.

Due to enemy's push and after intense fighting that had slowed it down, the pass was taken following an outflanking action from the slopes of the Cessens Mountain.

Faced with this situation, the defenders gradually withdrew and regrouped at  ND de la Salette chapel, the natural outlet of Sapenay, which was easier to defend.

The Germans were blocked at this important point of resistance and could not break through, despite the support of their mortars installed on the heights of  Cessens Mountain.

Further east, German 2 Battalion, 93 IR, unable to take Chambotte Pass, infiltrated from the Chambotte road, via the forest tracks of Mont Laval, towards Cessens via the hamlets of Carabin and Tour de César, which were quickly taken, threatening La Salette defenders with encirclement.

In the middle of the afternoon, the French position became untenable in the face of enemy pressure, coming from both Sapenay and Tour de César, forcing the French to fall back on Cessens.

After a short resistance in the village, the defenders were forced to abandon it and retreat towards Ansigny and Albens.

On 23 June, at 5pm, German troops occupied Cessens.

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