The Raid On Dieppe



Original Plan: Operation RUTTER

In the spring of 1942, the Allies planned a large raid on German occupied territory
to take place during the first week of July 1942.
Code-named "Operation Rutter," the objective was the French port of Dieppe.
Canadian and British troops train for more than two months on the Isle of Wight,
practicing landing and coastal attacks for the raid.
Operation RUTTER is cancelled.
Due to a number of factors, in particular the unfavourable weather reports,
the raid is cancelled.

Operation RUTTER is renamed Operation JUBILEE.

Although the code-name of the operation was changed, the plan remained the same.
Operation Jubilee was now set for August 19
under the command of a Canadian officer, General J.H. Roberts.

The operation called for the landing of units of the Second Canadian Division
supported by British Commandos on three beaches along the French coast.
Puys and Pourville, two minor beaches on the flank, were to be captured at 4:50 a.m.
Half an hour later, two Canadian infantry battalions,
The Essex Scottish Regiment and The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry, were to raid the main objective Dieppe.
An armoured unit, the Calgary Regiment, was to support the infantry on the main beach.
In addition, British commandos were to land on the flanks and neutralize German artillery.

Although this would be a frontal assault on a fortified port it was hoped that
the surprise element would allow the Canadians time to overrun the German defenses.

The Canadian Regiments participated in the raid on Dieppe:

Canadian Army

Fatal Casualties
Headquarters and Miscellaneous Detachments 5
14th Army Tank Regiment (The Calgary Regiment (Tank)) 13
Royal Canadian Artillery 13
Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers 27
Royal Canadian Corps of Signals 9
The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada 4
The Royal Regiment of Canada 227
The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (Wentworth Regiment) 197
Les Fusiliers Mont Royal 119
The Essex Scottish Regiment 121
The South Saskatchewan Regiment 84
The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada 76
The Calgary Highlanders 0
The Toronto Scottish Regiment (MG) 1
Royal Canadian Army Service Corps 1
Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps 4
Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps 2
Canadian Provost Corps 1
Canadian Intelligence Corps 3
Total Casualties Canadian Army 907

Royal Canadian Navy

Total Casualties Royal Canadian Navy 1

Royal Canadian Air Force

400 Army Cooperation Squadron 0
401 Fighter Squadron 1
402 Fighter Squadron 0
403 Fighter Squadron 3
411 Fighter Squadron 0
412 Fighter Squadron 1
414 Army Cooperation Squadron 0
416 Fighter Squadron 0
418 Intruder Squadron (two aircraft) 0
Total Casualties Royal Canadian Air Force 5
Total Casualties Canadian Forces 913

The operation was to last twelve hours,
a front attack taking place on the beach at Dieppe,
after landings on both sides at Pourville and Puys,
thus neutralizing the defences overlooking the main beach.
The long-range batteries at Varengeville and Berneval also had to be destroyed
before the landing in Dieppe.
The aim of the raid was to destroy the German coastal defences,
the port structures and all the strategic buildings
(petrol storage depots, radio and radar stations, headquarters).
Over 6.000 men were to land, among them 4.965 Canadians from the 2nd Division
(including the crews of 50 Churchill tanks) and 1.200 British men
belonging to the Commandos and the Royal Marines.
250 boats effected the transport (duck-boats, destroyers, gunboats, patrol boats, landing-craft...).
Around 1.000 aircraft (fighters, bombers) were used to support and defend the landing force.

In August 1942, the area of Dieppe was under the responsability of
the 302nd Division of the Wehrmacht.
About 2.500 men, highly trained and equiped (571st Regiment of Grenadiers,
artillery units, Flak units and Kriegsmarine units),
were present at each of the different landing-points.
Important fresh troops could be sent for at short notice.
The defensive fortifications were already dangerous, and the fire-power significant
(automatic weapons, mortars, medium and heavy guns, long-range coast batteries).
The German airforce, although less extensive, was still very dangerous
and had the advantage of being close to its home-base.

Attack and defeat:
During the evening of 18th August, the naval forces of Operation Jubilee
got under way from several ports on the south coast of England.
The different groups accomplished a trouble-free sea-crossing until,
suddenly, several miles off the coast, the left wing flotilla,
which was carrying the 3rd British Commando unit,
unexpectedly ran into a small German convoy sailing from Boulogne to Dieppe.
It was 3.45am. The ensuing battle completely upset the planned attack on Berneval,
and alerted part of the enemy defence.
Yet, a small group of commandos still managed to neutralize the battery for an hour and a half.

At 4.50am, at the other end of the operation zone,
the 4th Commando got a foothold on two areas along the coast,
in order to catch the battery at Varengeville in a pincer movement.
It was a complete success. The battery was destroyed and the commandos
re-embarked at 8.15am with scarcely any human loss.

At Puys, the Royal Regiment of Canada landed at 5.06am, later than planned,
and in broad daylight.
The German defence was on the watch, overlooking the attackers
who tried in vain to get over the high concrete wall
enclosing the small beach, under heavy fire with no shelter.
In less than an hour, of the 600 men who had landed,
the Canadians had lost 225, those left were either wounded
or made prisoner; only about sixty made it back to England.

The South Saskatchewan and Cameron Highlanders landed at Pourville
at 4.50am, easily invading the village. The German defence became progressively firmer
and although soldiers managed to advance as far as
Petit Appeville in the valley and as far as two-thirds of the way
up the slopes leading to Dieppe, they could not carry any further
and had to fall back late in the morning, re-embarking with
heavy losses (151 dead, 266 made prisoner and 269 wounded).

At 5.20am, after a too-short preliminary bombing,
the first two assault waves of the Royal Hamilton and the Essex Scottish
got a foothold on the beach at Dieppe.
The tanks of the 14th Canadian Army Tank Regiment,
which should have protected them, landed fifteen minutes

later with great difficulty and could not efficiently
support the foot-soldiers advancing on the exposed esplanade,
where a hell-fire showered them from the cliffs and the houses on the seafront.
Even those who managed to reach the esplanade
could not then get over the concrete walls barring every entrance to the town centre.
The casino was occupied by some men from the Royal Hamilton.
Several small groups even managed to get past
the first rows of houses and to enter the church St Rémy.

On the east side of the beach, the men of the Essex Scottish,
even more exposed, were very quickly stopped by intensive
German gunfire (the troops having been defeated at Pourville and especially at Puys,
the Germans had held on to their whole fire power.
The Allied Command, based on the HMS Calpe, seeing nothing happening on land
because of extremely thick smoke,
and being badly informed because of failing transmissions,
sent in fresh back-up troops, men from the Mount Royal Fusiliers
and the Royal Marines Commandos.
They landed on the beach amidst great confusion
with no hope whatsoever of improving an already jeopardized situation.
The murderous battle went on until the end of the morning,
the order to draw back being given around 11am,
to the survivors who tried to re-embark on the boats
which had returned to pick them up. Of the 2.000 men who had landed,
400 were dead, and only 400 succeeded in regaining England.
At about 1 pm, the battle was nearly over.

Evaluation and Controversy
Operation Jubilee ended with a dramatical result:

The allies counted 1.380 dead of which 913 Canadians,
1.600wounded and over 2.000 made prisoner.
The air battle was just as disastrous. The Royal Air Force lost 107 aircraft;
the Germans about forty. In the area of Dieppe,
among the civilians, the count was 48 dead and 100 wounded.
The Germans had 345 dead or missing and 268 wounded.
Thus, in less than ten hours' battle, almost 1.800 people lost
their lives, which shows clearly the murderous intensity of the Battle of Dieppe.

In addition to the 4,963 Canadian troops taking part in the raid,
there were 1,075 British troops (52 fatal casualties),
50 of the 1st U.S. Ranger Battalion (one fatal casualty)
and 20 of No. 10 (Inter-Allied) Commando.

Air and sea support was provided mainly by British forces.
Their casualties were:
Royal Navy--75 killed or died of wounds and 269 missing or prisoners,
and Royal Air Force--62 fatal casualties.

The result and ensuing debates could not live down the sacrifice
of those who fought and the enemy was the first to admit
that the disaster was not of their doing; (the huge number of prisoners may seem to question
the value of the Canadian and British units involved in the raid.
Far from it. The enemy soldiers, mostly Canadian, proved their skill
and courage everywhere it was possible to fight? It was not their lack of courage,
but the fact that we concentrated our defensive artillery fire
and our heavy infantry weapons so much that stopped
the enemy gaining ground)
"extracts of reports written by the majors of the 81st Corps and the 302nd German Division."

The sea-battle off Berneval breaking the surprise effect of the raid
could not in itself explain the failure of Operation Jubilee.
In fact, the reasons for this failure lie mainly
in the underestimation of the enemy forces,
the lack of effective air and sea support before landing,
the use of inadequate equipment and the lack
of information being other aggravating factors.

Military defeats are always controversial subjects,
especially when loss of human life is involved.
Operation Jubilee did not escape this rule and although the lessons learnt
brought valuable indications for the preparation of Operation Overlord,
the South Normandy landing on 6th June 1944,
many wondered at the relevancy and usefulness of Operation Jubilee
as far as future operations were concerned.

Two years after the raid on Dieppe, the Canadians landed at Juno beach,
at dawn on 6th June 1944,
participated in the Battle of Normandy and on 1st September 1944,
the 2nd Canadian Division liberated Dieppe.

Five Canadian soldiers who died on the shores of Dieppe,
were washed ashore in the Netherlands at
Haamstede, Zoutelande, Egmond, Ameland and Terschelling two months later.
Anyone who visits the Canadian War Cemetery at Holten The Netherlands
will be confronted at rows D and F with a dozen graves of Canadian servicemen who died in 1942 and 1943.
The regiments in which they served have familiar names such as The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry,
Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal, The Essex Scottish and the Royal Regiment of Canada.
These are soldiers who fell into German hands during the raid on Dieppe on the 19th August 1942,
and who then died in Germany of their wounds or from illness.
They were buried in this cemetery after the war.

Source: Library and Archives Canada
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