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The Great Defeat at Dieppe

In: Historical Events

Submitted By anjali6467
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At dawn on August 19th, 1942, “six thousand and one hundred Allied soldiers, of whom roughly five thousand were Canadians”, landed at the French port of Dieppe in their first major test of the defense of the German-held coastline (Government). A combination of inadequate planning, insufficient fire support, and lack of communication, through air, naval, and land made for a very poor attack, and one of Canada’s worst defeats in World War Two.
First of all, the Battle of Dieppe was poorly planned. It was designed to test new equipment, and gain the experience and knowledge necessary for planning a great amphibious assault that was one day necessary to defeat Germany. Also, after years of training in Britain, some Canadian politicians and generals were anxious for Canadian troops to experience battle (Government). The plan called for five separate attacks along 16 km. The principal assault was on Dieppe. “The four others were subsidiary flank attacks. The flank attacks were to be delivered simultaneously in: nautical twilight at 4:50 A.M” (Christie 9). They would have relied on surprise. The main attack would have came 30 minutes later. It all started at blue beach, where “they arrived late in their bid to take out enemy artillery and machine guns guarding the Dieppe beaches” (Canadian). From the start, the enemy pinned down the Canadians, and shot them up until the raid was over. Then at Green beach, “the part of the unit, tasked with reaching a radar station and anti-aircraft guns to the east of Pourville, landed on the west side of the River Scie, which ran through town. These troops had to cross the river on the village’s only bridge, which the Germans ferociously defended” (Canadian). Next were Red and White Beaches, where the Essex Scottish and Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (RHLI) regiments landed without their armoured support, the 14th Canadian Army Tank Regiment (the Calgary Tanks), which were late (Canadian). Proving this fiasco, Armand Emond says, “When the doors were open, the first Calgary tank fell into the water. They opened the door too soon.”(History). Not only that, but the naval landing was also delayed, and as the Royal Regiment of Canada leapt ashore in the dawning light, they met violent machine-gun fire from the fully-alerted German soldiers. Only a few men were able to get over the heavily-wired seawall at the head of the beach; those who did were unable to get back (Canadian). The Dieppe raid was a failure because its planning lacked many important factors and for all the planning that went into the raid, it was still rather poorly prepared.
Second of all, the Dieppe Raid was a disaster due to insufficient fire support. Most importantly, the tanks which managed to overcome the seawall found their way blocked by concrete obstacles that sealed off the narrow streets (Government). As Fred Englebrecht said, “When the rocks get into the mechanism, the tractors break, and the tank is useless now.” Along with that, the main beach assault consisted of only “four small Hunt-class destroyers with a total of sixteen 4 inch guns, along with twelve fighter aircrafts with canons and machine guns to soften the Germans up”(Denis 295). The ‘bombardment’ lasted merely ten minutes while taking place ten minutes prior to the arrival of the landing crafts. Jacques Nadeau says, “So we fired, me I shot my 61 bullets, I didn’t have anything else. 300 feet high those cliffs. There was no way to throw a grenade up there,” showing how limited the Allies were in their ammunition and how pointless some ammunition was (History). Overall, the raid on Dieppe showed how “important it was to use prior air bombings to destroy enemy defences as much as possible,” and to support assault troops with artillery fire from ships and landing crafts (Juno). Allied fire support was grossly inadequate causing it to be a major factor in the defeat at Dieppe.
Lastly, the lack of communication through air, naval, and land, really proved for a major failure in the Raid. For example, at Dieppe there were only five forward observation officers (FOOs) directing the fire from the destroyer's' guns and they had no direct observation of the targets on the headlands. “When a call went in for bomber support, it had to be relayed back to England before anything could happen; this created a hole of 86 minutes before bombs were dropped at the requested location” (Dennis pp. 295). Also, heeding the Royal Air Force Regiment (RAF) doctrine no attempt was made to provide direct communication between pilots and ground troops so these squadrons operated according to an elaborate plan of prearranged support (Legion). Furthermore,
Copp, a military historian, raises a point when he is conducting tours of the area is asked what else could have been done with the RAF. His answer seems simple and was taken into account in the D-Day planning. “We agree that heavy bombers would not have helped, but maybe some system of air support in which the troops could communicate directly with the Hurricanes would have made some difference.” (Legion). From the points raised by Copp, and from other support ideas, the battle of Dieppe showed to have little or no communication through the different regiments fighting the Battle.
In conclusion, of the “4,963 Canadians who embarked for the operation, only 2,210 returned to England, many of these surviving men were wounded. There were 3,367 casualties, including 1,946 prisoners of war; 916 Canadians lost their lives” (Government). Thousands of men lost theirs lives, landing craft were destroyed, tanks were deserted during the evacuation and very few objectives were met. The Battle of Dieppe was a great disaster for Canadians, for a number of reasons, some of them being: inadequate planning, insufficient fire support, and lack of communication.

The Canadian Encyclopedia, Dieppe Raid. 5 May, 2015. Web. Christie. N. M. The Suicide Raid. Ottawa: CEF Books, 2000. Print.
Denis and Shelagh Whitaker, Dieppe: Tragedy to Triumph, Toronto: McGraw-Hill
Ryerson, 1992. Part7 Aftermath, pp. 295
The Government of Canada. The 1942 Dieppe Raid. 22 April, 2015. Web. ppe-raid
The History Channel, War Story. 7 May, 2015. s=da&searchQuery=Dieppe#video/search/Dieppe
Juno Beach Centre, The Dieppe Raid. 5 May, 2015. Web.
Legion Magazine. The Air Over Dieppe. 7 May, 2015.

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