It was a major disaster; only the battle-hardened British commandos assigned to subdue the coast artillery batteries near Varengeville and Berneval enjoyed some success. Troops of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division under Major-General J.H. Roberts, landing on the Dieppe esplanade, at Puys, 1.6 km east, and Pourville, 3 km west, failed to achieve any of their objectives.
The raid lasted only 9 hours, but among nearly 5000 Canadian soldiers involved more than 900 were killed and 1874 taken prisoner - more prisoners than the army lost in the 11 months of the 1944-45 NW Europe campaign. Two Canadians, the Honorable Captain J.W. Foote of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry and Lieutenant-Colonel C.C. Merritt, commanding officer of the South Saskatchewan Regiment, received the VICTORIA CROSS.
In the air battle the Allies lost 106 aircraft and 81 airmen, the RCAF 13 machines and 10 pilots. German casualties were light, although they could ill afford the loss of 48 aircraft. For the Allies, the raid did provide valuable experience for subsequent amphibious assaults in North Africa, Italy and, most notably, NORMANDY on 6 June 1944.
Although it has been suggested that the Germans had prior knowledge of the raid, there is much evidence to the contrary. The enemy was alert but not forewarned, and failure was primarily caused by poor and overly complex planning, inadequate training, insufficient fire support, and the employment of troops undergoing their baptism of fire.
For a lesson plan on Dieppe, please click here.
Greenhous, Brereton, "Dieppe Raid" The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica-Dominion, 2010. 18 May 2010. www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com
Photograph taken by the German military after the Dieppe Raid, August 19, 1942. Shown are Canadian tanks, disabled by the stones on the beach. The cart, seen in between the two tanks, belonged to Ken Curry and his mortar crew, Herb Shrubsall and Tom Lillycrop. The crew were supposed to have used the cart to carry their 3 inch mortar and 30 bombs off the beach. Instead, being met with a "hail of bullets," they took cover behind the disabled tanks and fired their mortars from there. They never got off the beach.
Ken Curry in the centre, with his buddies Herb Shrubsall on the left and Tom Lillycrop on the right in Hastings, England, 1942. The three formed a mortar unit and fought in the Dieppe Raid. Herb was wounded on the beach at Dieppe. Successfully evacuated by Ken, Herb recovered, but was killed nearly two years later in the battle for Caen. Tom made it off the beach during the Allied retreat from Dieppe, but was killed when his vessel took a direct hit. Ken was captured by the German army and remained a POW until the end of the war.
A Canadian soldier with a German prisoner who was captured during the Dieppe Raid. (courtesy of Library and Archives Canada-a210156-v6)