Coll. Thierry Chazalon
Within these walls plans for defending a border 200 km away were devised and implemented.
The town was located at the end of an arc-shaped « fan » stretching from Chambéry to Menton, and extending as far as Arles to defend the Mediterranean coast. Valence's geographical location means that it lies on the Rhone corridor and is linked to the Alps by the Isère valley as far as Grenoble and, beyond that, as far as Chambéry to the north and Briançon to the east.
As a garrison town, it provided General Olry with two support and manoeuvre regiments: 504 Alpine Tank Regiment (504 RCCA) and 184 Heavy Towed Artillery Regiment (184 RALT). The Valence-Chabeuil airfield on the outskirts of the town offered rapid air links and employment of reconnaissance squadrons. The Paris-Lyon-Méditerranée and Valence-Briançon railways transported personnels of all ranks from Valence to the border with Italy.
On 19 June 1940, XVI Army Corps continued its offensive towards the south and south-east of France: Valence, Chambéry and Grenoble were the objectives of the three divisions of the on the offensive. General Olry then transferred his command post 80 km further south, to Bollène (Vaucluse).
On 22 June, 4th Panzer Division was at Pont-de-l'Isère, 10 km from Valence. Despite attempts to cross the Isère on 23 and 24 June, the Panzer Division was thwarted in its last combat mission of 1940 by the Lower Isère Defence Group. Valence remained free of German occupation.
504 RCCA : 504 Alpine Tank Regiment
184 RALT : 184 Heavy Towed Artillery Regiment
16 AK : XVI Corps (Germany)
4th PD : 4th Panzer Division, 4th Armoured Division (Germany)
Chazalon, Thierry. Resistances! Les prémices (June 1940 – July 1941), the Resistance began on 23 June 1940 on the banks of the lower Isère valley. Montélimar: autoédition, 2011. 200 p.