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Home Canada at War Canada at War - The Raid on Dieppe

Canada at War - The Raid on Dieppe

British Military High Command had decided that the Allies needed to establish a beachhead on the mainland. Or so the soldiers of the ill fated Dieppe Attack believed. The real reason for the assault was to prove to the Americans and the Soviets that a direct attack on the northern seawall was impossible and to relieve the beleaguered Russian forces who were being attacked heavily by Luftwaffe planes and soldiers.

Originally the Dieppe attack was planned for the beginning of June however, poor weather scrapped the mission. About a month later, the British Combined Operations, experts on beach raids, revived the plan. Two British Commando Groups, 50 American Rangers and 5000 Canadian soldiers were selected for the attack scheduled for August 19, 1942.

The slaughter began before the Canadian troops could hit the beach. Towering cliffs around the beach were fortified with pillboxes, howitzers, and mortars. The planned air strikes were cancelled so these positions were never destroyed. These began to shoot at the incoming landing craft sinking some. Most of those that did manage to land on the beach were cut down by German machine gun fire. The guns continued to fire from the cliffs blocking any possible form of escape.

Only 20 Canadian soldiers managed to make it to the sea wall. They later surrendered. Colonel C.P. Stacey was later remarked as saying: "Tactically, it was an almost complete failure."(Lotz 104) In the end, it was calculated that 1946 troops were captured, 2210 escaped, and 907 died while the Germans suffered only 333 casualties, 121 of which died.
 

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