Operation Jubilee and the Dieppe Raid - August 19, 1942
The Allies’ Operation Jubilee of August 1942 – the Dieppe Raid – was clearly a military defeat. Why the Allies launched this raid and the raid’s objectives, however, have at best remained secondary to this fact in public knowledge. Moreover, a common observation is that Dieppe’s operational lessons were directly responsible for the successful Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944. This conclusion, while accurate, implies that the Dieppe Raid was the only way to learn specific lessons and that the thousands wounded, captured, and killed in 1942 were necessary for future operational successes.
The Allies conceived the raid for several reasons. The Allies wanted to test German defences in France and gather information useful for a later, larger invasion. A successful, daring raid was also designed to boost the Allies’ lagging morale at the time. Additionally, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin demanded the opening of a “second front” in Western Europe to alleviate the Germans’ pressure on his armies in the east. British, Canadian, and American leaders believed a raid would meet the first two objectives and temporarily pacify Stalin’s demands.
Allied commanders did not think it was going to be a challenging operation:
Intelligence told us that we, the only defenders were a bunch of old German soldiers that, almost like home guard. We had no idea we were facing people that had just come back from Russia.
-Jack McFarland, The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry, on intelligence before the raid
The raid, launched early in the morning on August 19, 1942 suffered from overcomplicated plans, poor intelligence, and serious communication problems. Canadian, British, and American troops attempted to take Dieppe’s flanks before attacking the city itself. The assault faltered against a well prepared enemy defence and, not informed of the tactical situation, later waves of Allied troops were caught in untenable positions. By the afternoon, the raid had failed. Of the 5,000 Canadians that participated, more than 3,350 were wounded or killed, as they suffered heavy losses, as did the British and Americans:
About 20 of us made a dash for the houses, and seven of us made it. Yeah. The rest were all piled up all along the way.
-Wilson “Howard” Large, The Essex Scottish Regiment, on the assault on Dieppe
The Germans took the living prisoner, including approximately 2,000 Canadians:
He said to me, “Komme komme mein liebe,” which means, “Come, come my dear!” He said to me, “The war is over for you.”
-Jacques Nadeau, Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal, on his capture at Dieppe
For Jacques Nadeau and the other captives, most remained in prison camps for the duration of the war, many dying from poor conditions, forced marches, or wounds inflicted at Dieppe.
August 19, 2012 marks the 70th anniversary of the day that many young men fought and died on Dieppe’s rocky shores. To focus on their stories and their difficult individual experiences is worthy of our time, to remember them and the many others whose voices were forever lost that day.
The Memory Project’s Dieppe Raid veterans:
Wilson “Howard” Large
Herménégilde Dussault – French Only
My father and his brother were in the Essex Scottish..they were in their 30's with families and were not activated for Overseas duties. My mother's brother, CHARLES COLE was activated, was at Dieppe and was captured...he spent the better part of 3 years in captivity. He passed away in 1978.