Some method had to be found to create a foothold on the continent, and the Raid on Dieppe offered invaluable lessons for the successful D-Day invasion in , saving countless lives in that momentous offensive. Canadians made up the great majority of the attackers in the raid. Nearly 5, of the 6, troops were Canadians. The remaining troops consisted of approximately 1, British Commandos and 50 American Rangers. Major-General J. Leigh-Mallory as Air Force Commander. Although extremely valuable lessons were learned in the Raid on Dieppe, a steep price was paid.
Of the 4, Canadians who embarked for the operation, only 2, returned to England, and many of these were wounded. There were 3, casualties, including 1, prisoners of war; Canadians lost their lives. The Allied situation in the spring of was grim. At this point the Allied forces weren't strong enough to mount "Operation Overlord," the full-scale invasion of Western Europe.
Instead, the Allies decided to mount a major raid on the French port of Dieppe. It was designed to test new equipment, and gain the experience and knowledge necessary for planning a great amphibious assault that would one day be necessary to defeat Germany. Also, after years of training in Britain, some Canadian politicians and generals were anxious for Canadian troops to experience battle. To achieve these goals, plans were made for a large-scale raid to take place in July , called "Operation Rutter. Poor weather in July, however, prevented them from launching Operation Rutter.
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Many involved in the planning wanted to abandon the raid. Despite the debate, the operation was revived and given the new code name "Jubilee.
The Raid unfolds
The Raid on Dieppe took place on the morning of August 19, The forces attacked at five different points on a front roughly 16 kilometres long. Four simultaneous flank attacks were to go in just before dawn, followed half an hour later by the main attack on the town of Dieppe itself. Canadians were the force for the frontal attack on Dieppe, and also went in at gaps in the cliffs at Pourville, four kilometres to the west, and at Puys to the east.
British commandos were assigned to destroy the coastal batteries at Berneval on the eastern flank, and at Varengeville in the west. As the assault force approached the coast of France in the early hours of August 19, the landing craft of the eastern sector unexpectedly encountered a small German convoy. There was a sharp, violent, sea fight, and that noise alerted the German coastal defences, particularly at Berneval and Puys. With the Germans ready to man their defences, the element of surprise was lost.
The crafts carrying No. Those who did were quickly overwhelmed. One small party of 20 commandos managed to get within metres of the German battery. Their accurate sniping prevented the German guns from firing on the assault ships for two-and-a-half vital hours before they were safely evacuated.
At Puys, the Royal Regiment of Canada also suffered unexpected difficulties. The beach was extremely narrow, and was commanded by lofty cliffs where German soldiers were strategically placed. To be successful, the attackers needed surprise and darkness; they got neither. The naval landing was delayed, and as the Royal Regiment of Canada leapt ashore in the dawning light, they met violent machine-gun fire from the fully-alerted German soldiers. Only a few men were able to get over the heavily-wired seawall at the head of the beach; those who did were unable to get back.
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The rest of the troops, together with three platoons of reinforcements from the Black Watch Royal Highland Regiment of Canada, were pinned on the beach by mortar and machine-gun fire, and were later forced to surrender. It was impossible to evacuate them because of the German fire. Of those who landed, were killed and 20 died later of their wounds; the rest were taken prisoner. It was the heaviest toll suffered by a Canadian battalion in a single day during the entire war. Also, the failure to clear the eastern headland allowed the Germans to defend the Dieppe beaches with firepower from both sides, and nullify the main frontal attack.
The forces in the western sector attacked with some degree of surprise. In contrast to the misfortune encountered by the No.
The units landed as planned and successfully destroyed the guns in the battery near Varengeville, and then withdrew safely. At Pourville the Canadians surprised the enemy. Resistance intensified as the Saskatchewans, supported by Camerons, crossed the River Scie. After heavy fighting, they were stopped well short of the town of Dieppe. The main force of the Camerons, meanwhile, pushed on towards their objective, an inland airfield, and advanced three kilometres before they were forced to halt as well. Both regiments then attempted to withdraw.
The enemy fired fiercely upon the beach from dominating positions east of Pourville, and also from the high ground to the west. The landing craft, however, came in through the storm of fire with self-sacrificing bravery and, supported by a courageous rearguard, the majority of both units successfully re-embarked, though many of the men were wounded. The rearguard itself could not be evacuated.
They surrendered after they ran out of ammunition and further evacuation was impossible. The main attack was made across the pebble beach in front of Dieppe. It was timed to take place a half-hour later than the assault on its flanks. The German troops, concealed in clifftop positions and in buildings overlooking the promenade, were well prepared for the Canadians. As the men of the Essex Scottish Regiment assaulted the open eastern section, the enemy swept the beach with machine-gun fire. All attempts to breach the seawall were beaten back with terrible casualties. When one small platoon managed to infiltrate the town, a message was sent back to Headquarters offshore which misleadingly led General Roberts to believe that the Essex Scottish had established themselves in the town.
To support them, the reserve battalion Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal was sent in.
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Like their comrades who had landed earlier, they found themselves pinned down on the beach and exposed to intense enemy fire. The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry landed at the west end of the promenade opposite a large isolated casino. They were able to clear this strongly-held building and the nearby pillboxes and enter the town. Some men of the battalion crossed the bullet-swept boulevard and moved into the town, where they engaged in vicious street fighting. The Calgary Regiment also encountered unexpected obstacles.
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Dieppe Prelude to D-Day. Qty: Add to Basket. About this Product. The main force would destroy the port facilities while other smaller landings dealt with anti-aircraft and coastal batteries. The raid itself turned into a fiasco.
Ville de Dieppe - 19 août - 19 août : l'opération Jubilee
The assault force was pinned down on the beach and three quarters of the 5, troops landed were lost. This book analyses the disastrous raid and examines contrasting conclusions drawn by the Allies and the Germans. Biographical Note. Ken Ford was born in Hampshire in He trained as an engineer and spent almost thirty years in the telecommunications industry. He now spends his time as an author and a bookseller specialising in books in military history.
He has written a number of books on various Second World War subjects. Ken now lives in Southampton.