Dieppe, France
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Dieppe, France

This peaceful port of Dieppe is on the English Channel. But it wasn’t peaceful on August 19, 1942. Named Operation Jubilee or better known as Dieppe Raid, the Allies attack on the German-occupied port when horribly wrong

Next to my Mecure Dieppe La Presidence hotel is Square du Canada (Canada Square). The park honours the soldiers who died on that fateful day. Dieppe-Canada Monument in the centre of the park features names of people and events linking Canada and Normandy.

The following is a translation of its inscription:

On the 19th of August 1942

on the beaches of Dieppe

our Canadian cousins

marked with their blood

the road to our final liberation

foretelling thus their victorious return

on September 1, 1944.

I walked along the pebbled beach trying to image what the soldiers went through on that fateful day. I tried to image the soldiers, some 5,000 Canadians, 1,000 British troops, and 50 United States Army Rangers. A total of 3,623 of the 6,086 men (almost 60%) who made it ashore were either killed, wounded, or captured The raid happened on five beaches: Puys, Berneval, Varengeville, Pourville and Dieppe.

Further down the promenade is a monument dedicated to the Essex Scottish Regiment. The officials believed the Essex Scottish Regiment had breached the seawall making their way into town when in fact there were being fired by the enemy on the pebbled beach. At the end of the Dieppe Raid, there were 121 casualties. Every August 19 at 1:00 pm (the time the raid ended) the sun shines through and hits the maple leaf on the cobbled ground on the other side there is also an identical monument in Windsor, Ontario.

Puys is a 30 minute drive from Dieppe. The plan was the Royal Regiment of Canada plus three platoons from Black Watch of Canada were to land on Puys beach during darkness but instead arrived on shore as the sun was rising. The heavily armed enemy was waiting and there were immediate heavy casualties. 227 of the 554 members of the regiment died in or as a result of the raid plus 136 were wounded and 264 become prisoners of war leaving only 65 returned to England. Of the 111 troops of Black Watch only 44 with four died eight wounded and 63 taken prisoners.

The plaque on The Royal Regiment of Canada Monument, in Puys, reads:

You who are alive on this beach, remember that these men died far from home so that others, here and elsewhere, might freely enjoy life in God’s mercy.

Pourville lies about three kilometers west of Dieppe. Its beach is isolated from the Dieppe beaches by tall cliffs that dominate on both sides. Code-named Green Beach, the South Saskatchewan Regiment and Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada assaulted the beach. The two regiments lost heavily in the battle even though the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders managed to get to an inland airfield but they were forced to halt at some point. In just a few short hours, a total of 160 of both regiments lost their lives. Their sacrifice is commemorated on a Pourville Memorial.

Monet made a series of canvas paintings of Pourville’s beautiful beach and stunning landscape. The painting was stolen in the year 2000; it was cut from its frame and replaced by a copy. The painting was recovered in 2010.

Located five kilometers south of Dieppe, Dieppe Canadian War Cemetery is an unusual cemetery because it was created by occupying German since the Allies were forced to retreat leaving the casualties behind. Like the German cemetery, the gravestones are placed back to back in double rows unlike the Commonwealth cemeteries where the grave stones are lined in a single row. There are 948 Commonwealth soldiers of the Second World War buried here. 187 are unidentified. The Allies retook Dieppe in 1944 but elected to keep the grave as is.

Some say that the failed attempt to take the German forces were lessons learn for what was to become the massive undertaking in history two years later. June 6, 1944 known as D-Day.


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