The Liberation of Marseille, France, September 1944 – A Veteran’s Photographs

Radioman Second Class Francis Cinque was assigned to the Auk-class minesweeper USS Broadbill (AM 58) during World War Two.  He participated in Operation Neptune, the naval component of the Allied landings at Normandy, the bombardment of the Port of Cherbourg, and Operation Dragoon, the invasion of Southern France.  I recently had the privilege of helping his grandson’s family identify some of the pictures from his album, and they agreed to allow me to share a few of them here.

This set was taken by RM2 Cinque as he walked through the port of Marseille, France.  Marseille was liberated from the Germans by French forces under the command of General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny on 28AUG44.  The retreating Germans had destroyed much of the port in an effort to deny its use to the Allied armies fighting in Southern France.

I have identified Mr. Cinque’s photographs to the best of my abilities, and added contemporary photographs where they are useful.  If anyone has any additional information or can correct any errors I may have made please add your information in the comments below and I’ll pass them along to the family.

The Phare de Sainte Marie Light, Marseille, France seen behind one of at least two ships sunk in the harbor channels.  The retreating Germans have scuttled the ship to block access to the port facilities to the North.  LCT 136, a USN Landing Craft, Tank is moored to the quay in the background.  I was unable to identify the blockship in the picture.  (Francis Cinque photograph)
A contemporary photograph of the Phare de Sainte Marie.
A vintage postcard of the light.
Damage to the Rowing Club de Marseille after the city was liberated from the Germans on 28AUG44.  The building shows damage from small arms fire and heavier shells.  I was unable to determine if this building survived or had to be demolished, but there is still a rowing club in Marseille.  (Francis Cinque photograph)
A U.S. Navy 78′ Higgins Patrol Torpedo boat in front of ruined coastal buildings, location unknown.   (Francis Cinque photograph)
The remains of a shipping quay in the southern French port of Marseille, September 1944.  The port was destroyed by the German Army to prevent its use by the Allies.  In the background is the Cathedral Major.  (Francis Cinque photograph)
014Bs_Cathedral Major Marseille France
A contemporary view from a similar vantage point using Google maps.  The area is undergoing renovation work.
A better view of the Cathedral Major.
The small freighter CAP CORSE scuttled by the Germans in the channel between Fort Saint Nicholas and Fort Saint Jean, to block access to the Vieux Port, Marseille France, September 1944.  CAP CORSE displaced 2,444 tons and entered service in 1929.  She was unable to be refloated and had to be scrapped where she sank.  It took two weeks to remove the blockships before the Allies could enter the port.  Fort Saint Jean is in the background.  (Francis Cinque photograph)
Sofitel Marseille Vieux Port
A contemporary view from a table at the Accor Hotel overlooking the old port to the far right and Fort Saint Jean to the left.  The Cap Corse was scuttled in the channel approximately where the small boat is entering the old harbor in the picture.  RM2 Cinque stood at the edge of the channel to the right with his back to Fort Saint Nicholas to take the previous photograph.
The BOKA novelty specialty store after the liberation of Marseille, France, September 1944.  Note the U.S. Army Jeep in the background.  The automobile in the right foreground bears the white Cross of Lorraine of the Forces françaises de l’Intérieur, the French Resistance.  The streetlight is of a type still seen today in Marseille.  (Francis Cinque photograph)
Radioman Second Class Francis Cinque poses on the steps of the Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde in Marseille, France, September 1944.  (Francis Cinque photograph)
A contemporary view of the Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde.
A view of Marseille, France from the Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde, September 1944. The old port is visible to the left.  (Francis Cinque photograph)
A working party clearing away rubble after the liberation of Marseille, France.  (Francis Cinque photograph)
A return to normalcy.  French civilians wait in line to see Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs outside l’Ecran (the Screen) theater, Marseille, France, September 1944.  (Francis Cinque photograph)
A contemporary view of the l’Ecran theater building using Google Maps.  While the facade has been changed, note the details of the second floor windows, railing, and lighting fixture to the right.  The theater entrance was where “La Muthuelle Du Midi” is today.
A two-masted schooner anchored peacefully, location unknown.  (Francis Cinque photograph)