The Dieppe Raid
August 19, 1942
Germans Examining at Captured Churchill Tank at Dieppe
Operation Jubilee, as it came to be known, started with a memo from the Allies' invasion planning group to the operations staff headed by Lord Mountbatten:
After the coastal town of Dieppe was chosen from the list of targets, what developed was a plan that violated the military principles of Unity of Command, Simplicity and Concentration. A fiasco was in the works and it would be Canadian forces that would bear the brunt of the failure. In an effort to test amphibious invasion techniques and the land and air response of the defenders, a complicated five-part land, sea and air operational plan developed that left the disjointed attacking force outgunned in every sector over an eleven-mile frontage. These forces included 5,000 Canadian infantrymen and tankers from the 2nd Division, 1,100 British commandos and a smattering of of US Rangers and Free French forces.
Please raid one of these ports in sufficient strength to persuade the enemy to react as if he were faced with actual invasion.
On the morning of the assault, August 19, 1942, surprise was lost by the chance meeting of the invasion ships and a coastal convoy. On the flanks some of the commando efforts were effective, but on the highlands west of Dieppe proper, the South Saskatchewan Regiment got bogged down and at Puys to the east, the Royal Regiment of Canada was destroyed taking 94.5% casualties.
More Carnage at Dieppe
The main attack on the beach front before Dieppe began at 5:20 and was met with crushing machine gun fire. The battle focused on the shore side casino which was eventually captured after room-to-room fighting. German defensive fire continued to increase in intensity throughout the morning. A tank assault by 27 new Churchill tanks failed to break into town. An evacuation was ordered to commence at 11am, but it turned into a horror. At 12:20 the attempts to save the survivors was abandoned. The failure was total. Over 3,600 raiders were dead or captured. The huge majority of these were Canadian soldiers.
Nevertheless, there is hardly a book written on the Normandy Invasion that does not give great credit to the Dieppe Raid. The plan for Overlord, the invasion on June 6, 1944, was certainly different. It featured an assault against open beaches rather than in front of a fortified city. Surprise and command of the air were total that day. Most importantly, the initial assault was overwhelming in numbers, firepower and logistics. For D-Day, it seems Dieppe provided the chart on how NOT to do it.
For some additional information on Dieppe visit:
The Raid on Dieppe, August 19, 1942
Naval Staff History: Dieppe