Arrive in Dieppe after having a stop at a very nice Chateau style hotel ‘Domaine Des Thomeaux’ in the town of Mosnes in the Loire Valley close to Tours.
July 30th – today we headed off to see some of the World War 11 Sites that involved Canadians in the ‘Dieppe RAID of August 19th 1942.
The Dieppe raid was a major operation planned by Vice-Admiral Lord Mountbatten of Combined Operations Headquarters, involving an attacking force of about 5,000 Canadians, 1,000 British troops and 50 United States Army Rangers.
The first stop was at the Canadian War Cemetery in the town of St Aubin sur Mer about 6 kilometres from Dieppe 944 members of the Allied Armed Forces are interred at this cemetery , of which 707 are Canadian.
The cemetery is unique in that it was created by the occupying Germans, as the Allied raid was a disaster and many dead were forced to be left behind
in enemy territory. The headstones have been placed back to back in long double rows, typical of German burials but unlike any other Commonwealth war cemetery. When Dieppe was retaken in 1944, the Allies elected not to disturb the graves, so this unusual arrangement still stands. The post-war design was by Commission architect Philip Hepworth. Today, the cemetery is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Following along the road we reached the town of Pourville. This was known as the ‘Green’ beach and involved the South Saskatchewan Regiment.
The next stop was Vasterival sur Mer. Here is a very small gorge ‘Gorge de Petit Aille’ which was part of the ‘Orange’ Beach. The mission for Lieutenant Colonel Lord Lovat and No. 4 Commando (including 50 United States Army Rangers) was to conduct two landings 6 miles (9.7 km) west of Dieppe to neutralize the coastal battery Hess at Blancmesnil-Sainte-Marguerite near Varengeville. Landing on the right flank in force, they climbed the steep slope and attacked and neutralized their target, the artillery battery of six 150 mm guns. This was the only success of Operation Jubilee. The commando then withdrew at 07:30 as planned. Most of No. 4 safely returned to England. This portion of the raid was considered a model for future amphibious Royal Marine Commando assaults as part of major landing operations. Lord Lovat was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his part in the raid, and Captain Patrick Porteous No. 4 Commando, was awarded the Victoria Cross.
Had lunch in this town at Maison des Julie address 1 Place du Canadiens. A good lunch with a glass of ‘rose’ wine. Onto Eglise Saint Valery – the cliff top church. The churchyard is no more immortal than the humans buried there. Despite many attempts at consolidation, erosion continues to gnaw at the churchyard. Along this part of the coastline, the cliffs recede by almost a metre a year. Fear of continuing ground movement means it is forbidden to dig new tombs in the churchyard.
Back tracking from here we head towards Puys or the ‘Blue’ beach. The naval engagement between the small German convoy and the craft carrying No. 3 Commando had alerted the German defenders at Blue beach. The landing near Puys by the Royal Regiment of Canada plus three platoons from the Black Watch of Canada and an artillery detachment was tasked to neutralize machine gun and artillery batteries protecting the Dieppe beach. They were delayed by 20 minutes and the smoke screens that should have hidden their assault had lifted. The advantages of surprise and darkness were thus lost, and the Germans had manned their defensive positions in preparation for the landings. The well-fortified German forces held the Canadian forces that did land on the beach. As soon as they reached the shore, the Canadians found themselves pinned against the seawall and unable to advance. The Royal Regiment of Canada was annihilated. Of the 556 men in the regiment, 200 were killed and 264 captured.
The last stop of the day was at the museum in Dieppe itself put together for the Dieppe Raid 19 aout 1942 Operation Jubliee. What an amazing museum an an absolute must to visit. The 45 minute movie about the whole raid brings tears to your eyes. I wish we were here in Dieppe on August 19th this year as it is the 75 anniversary of the raid and I know that Dieppe and the French people will put on an amazing day.
August 30th leaving Dieppe and on our way to “The Old Surgery” in Ditchling UK. our stay in Dieppe was excellent. Just outside of Calais we came across another Canadian War Cemetery. Every corner of France (and all of Europe) you will find the cemeteries. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is responsible for the upkeep of all these sites.