Dieppe, Sunday June 9, 2017
Riding their bikes along the côte d’albâtre south west of the town of Dieppe, do bikers recall the tragedy that took place here on Aug 19, 1942? If they come from Canada, probably yes. Otherwise, few people remember the disastrous raid on Dieppe where more than 2000 young Canadian soldiers lost their lives in one if the most stupid operation ever.
What happened, in a nutshell?
August 42: Hitler is still victorious on all fronts. The Allies already plan an invasion in France but are way behind from its implementation. Stalin already urges for it, in order to relieve his own eastern front. So Churchill agrees to a “test” on the French coast: Let’s see , he says,,if we are able to seize a harbour, which will be so strategic later to pin a beachhead and pour equipment and troops inland, when we carry on with the real invasion
On Aug 19 at 4.30 am some 230 ships carrying 5000 Canadians and 1000 Brits start landing on the pebble beach of Dieppe. But they face up to heavy fortified German troops who expected them, well prepared. It is a carnage. At noon, the beach is littered with corpses, burning vehicules, wrecks of all sorts, and above in the air 160 planes have been shot down by the flak and german fighters.
German propaganda will exploit the disaster and tout the unprofessional and amateur way of the allies. Shame oh shame, Petain and the Vichy press will stick with the Germans in praising the “anglo saxon disaster “.
In Canada today, Dieppe still clings as a most painful tragedy. A small museum in Dieppe near a memorial next to the beach pay tribute to the young men who lost their lives here for nothing. Tourists visit the historic city center, the medieval churches and the castle. Very few remember the failed raid on Dieppe, Aug 19, 1942.