As we remember the sacrifice of others for our freedoms and home on this Remembrance Day, I have been thinking of the local service persons who took part in the Dieppe Raid, which happened 80 years ago this year. The Dieppe Raid took place on 19 August 1942 and proved to be Canada’s bloodiest day in the entire Second World War. Code-named “Operation Jubilee”, the Dieppe landing envisioned Allied forces storming the shores of occupied French towns of Dieppe, Puys, and Pouville in an effort to bolster Allied fortunes against the Germans.
Operation Jubilee sought to test German defenses with a large scale amphibious landing and damage enemy shipping and port facilities. The operation also sought to gather intelligence on German technology and secret military codes, and ultimately force the Germans to shift military resources from the Eastern front. The Dieppe Raid was launched from southern England across the English Channel. The operation involved more than 6,000 soldiers — 4,963 Canadians, 1,075 British commandos, 15 French nationals and hundreds of airmen and sailors from Canada, Britain and the United States.
Running behind schedule, the main forces going ashore at Dieppe landed as daylight was breaking. German troops, alerted to raid, attacked Canadian soldiers as they waded in the surf. Soldiers, who were able to make shore, had to fight their way across the cobblestone beach to the relative protection of the seawall. Allied tank movement was hindered by the beach stones and fierce enemy fire, which hampered engineering efforts to clear a path into town. Canadian and British troops who were able to fight their way into the bullet-swept streets of Dieppe or were trapped on the beach under heavy enemy fire found themselves left behind as the decision to retreat was made in the early afternoon. Faced by insurmountable odds, Canadian troops left behind in Dieppe were forced to surrender and were taken prisoner by German forces. Canadian losses at Dieppe included 907 deaths, and 1,946 men taken prisoner. Approximately, 2,460 Canadians were wounded.
Despite the losses, Allied and Canadian forces showed much heroism and the landing gave hope to the French that they had not been forgotten. Lessons learned at Dieppe were important in the success of subsequent beach assaults, like D-Day in 1944 at Normandy, France.
Based on a search of our World War 2 Soldier Information Card Collection, we have identified the following soldiers who served in the Dieppe Raid:
- Arthur Breithaupt 1911-1999 (Taken as prisoner of war at Dieppe)
- Harry Bassil 1916-2005 (Taken as prisoner of war at Dieppe)
- David Bernhardt 1922-1993
- Frank Biliecky (Taken as prisoner of war at Dieppe)
- Ronald Bruce -1942 (died at Dieppe)
- Oscar Fischer 1923-1945
- George Fennell 1920-1943
- Carl Fuja 1917-1942 (died at Dieppe)
- William Groff 1900-1949
- George Frederick Hoch 1914-1942 (died at Dieppe)
- Louis Hodgson
- Carl Logan (taken as prisoner of war at Dieppe)
- Alexander Robert McDonald
- Alex McNeill 1900-1967
- Bill (William Leo) Owens 1913-2009
- Alonzo Grant 1918-1990 (taken prisoner of war at Dieppe)
- George Teasdale 1913-1942 (died at Dieppe)
- William John Irven 1915-1942 (died at Dieppe), and
- Gordon Fennell, 1921-
Gordon Fennell, who was born in Preston, was honoured by the town of Dieppe for the 80th anniversary of the raid in August 2022. He can be seen in this video clip from the CBC talking about his wartime experiences.
I also wanted to give my thanks to Joseph and Bridget for their research on these soldiers. We are continually building our database of soldiers and if you have information to share, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org