Dieppe Raid, 19th August, 1942

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by 17thDYRCH, Aug 16, 2010.

  1. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    Was the Dieppe raid a success or failure? The quick answer is a failure, but only if one's interpretation is based on the events of 19th August alone. A wider view is expressed by the more knowledgeable folks than I of the prestigious Canadian Juno Beach Centre. The last paragraph reads:
    "The true meaning of the sacrifices made at Dieppe was made obvious two years after this ill-fated date, when on D-Day the Allies gained a foothold in Europe to free the continent from Nazi aggression.”


    With all due respect Gerry, I have yet to meet a single Dieppe veteran who believes that to be true. They regard it as the party line spoken soon after the raid in order to cover Mountbatten's battered reputation and later to calm the angry vets of the operation.
    I'm also quite sure that 5,000 casualties were not required in order to discover that the Churchill could climb a hill.
    Sorry if that sounds curt but I've come to believe that the so called 'lessons' justification is more of a political rather than a military theory. Established military doctine and basic common sense can account for most of what has been claimed to have been learned at Dieppe.
    As the saying goes, "Success has many fathers and failure is an orphan". In this case, since the planners could not deny paternity they tried to put lipstick on a pig.
     
  2. britman

    britman Senior Member

    Canuck,

    From reading this whole thread, I can understand your position. I'm sure anybody who was there and experienced it, would think the same.

    Maybe if the Canadian Government at that time, wasn't so pushy to get their troops some action. Mmmm. hindsight?
     
  3. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    Canuck,

    From reading this whole thread, I can understand your position. I'm sure anybody who was there and experienced it, would think the same.

    Maybe if the Canadian Government at that time, wasn't so pushy to get their troops some action. Mmmm. hindsight?

    Canadian troops had been in England since 1940 so I don't think it was an unreasonable expectation for the military/government to want to see them deployed. Australian, New Zealand, Indian and South African troops had been active in the Mediterranean theatre for some time by August of 1942.

    This was a raid planned by Combined Operations so to lay blame for the failure at the feet of the Canadian Government would seem to be misplaced. Canadian troops and the Canadian people wanted that as well. They hadn't travelled all that way to sit around. However, the desire to see action and being thrown into that sorry operation are two separate issues.
    Really no different than the New Zealand forces at Crete. The Kiwi's supplied the troops but were not making the strategic decisions.
     
  4. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Canuck -
    It should not be forgotten either that elements of the 1st Cdn Div went back into France with Alanbrooke after he was sent back after Dunkirk in June 1940 - I believe it was Gen MacNaughton who gave the OK on that move - it didn't last long and there was no fighting involved.

    The main role of all the five Canadian Divisions was to guard the coasts from invasion
    attempts and there was no question that the combined operation had been cancelled by Montgomery as being security compromised until the egotistical Mountbatten tried to show of his powers as Chief of Combined Ops as the new member of the Chief of Staff committee, he was the true culprit not the Cdn Government...
    Cheers
     
  5. Gerry Chester

    Gerry Chester WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    I'm also quite sure that 5,000 casualties were not required in order to discover that the Churchill could climb a hill.
    With due respect to you Canuck, methinks you have missed the point of what I posted. Of course it did not take the Dieppe Raid to determine that the Churchill could climb a hill, nor did it take an operation to determine the same for any other British and US make of tank. Every AFV in service with the Royal Armoured Corps went through a series of tests, ability to negotiate swampy ground, etcetera. The results of the climbing tests of the Churchill may be found in the National Archives WO 194/821. However they were no substitute for how our tanks would perform in battle.

    The whole point is that if the Churchill had not proven it could climb hills which the Germans thought to be impossible its days were over. It should be remembered that it was the intention for both 21st and 25th Tank Brigades to be reequipped with Shermans after the end of the Tunisian Campaign. Most certainly the Hitler Line would then have been a much tougher nut to crack. My regiment the North Irish Horse, (being of 25th Tank Brigade), was given the highest honour that your countrymen could award to a non-Canadian unit – the wearing of a silver Maple Leaf on our uniforms. Although the NIH, 51st RTR (the Leeds Regiment), et al, are but shadows of their former selves it is still proudly worn.

    Each May 23rd in Northern Ireland a Memorial Parade is held to honour those Canadians and British who died on that day in 1944. The bond between the North Irish Horse and the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada which we supported remains ever strong. On every occasion a representative of your government honours us with his presence. Last year it was Lieutenant Colonel Pal Mann, Canadian Liaison Officer, Permanent Joint Headquarters (UK). On a previous year a full colonel, whose father took part in the raid, specifically stated, but for the performance of Churchills at Dieppe the casualties suffered by 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade on May 23rd would have been substantially higher.

    War is between human beings whose fallibility oft made decisions which, in hind site should not have been. Such a decision was made on September 4th, 1944 which resulted in some 14,000 8th Army Casualties, 4,511 being Canadian. 8th Army lost 661 AFVs - 1st Armoured Division (Sherman equipped) suffered so badly that it was disbanded, destruction of the Queen’s Bays being virtually complete. The bitterness felt by the survivors and relatives of those who became casualties is as strong as that of the survivors of the Dieppe Raid, however, there is one essential difference - they have no fellow countrymen who give thanks for what was fought for on that September day. Conversely, while meeting a single Dieppe veteran who believes the raid having been worthwhile is unlikely, opinions expressed by veterans of 3rd Canadian Infantry Division which landed on Juno Beach beg to differ.

    Cheers, Gerry
     
  6. 17thDYRCH

    17thDYRCH Senior Member Patron

    Gents,this has brought to light some very interesting discussion points.
    Thanks to all for your contributions.

    Randy
     
  7. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    As Gerry quite rightly states May 23rd was a very bad day for 25th Tank bde as well as the Seaforths and Loyal Eddies of the 2nd Cdn Bde as both the NIH and 51st RTR lost 14 Churchills each trying to get through the Gustav Line near Aquino with some 70 Tank men killed and the same wounded.

    Why he chose the 4th September for his example had me shaking my head as we were just passing Cattolica after a comparitably easy run from Pieve - the bad days were still ahead as we approached the Coriano Ridge - with Croce - Gemmano - San Martino and San Fortunato looming for the next three weeks of sheer hell when the Bays were wiped out - 21st Tank bde losing 30 Churchills, The Seaforths some 90 men the day I caught my 88mm. 7th Armoured bde about the same - the whole armoured effort reduced as Gerry says by 600 odd Tanks - then the monsoons hit just to cheer us all up a bit !
    I was just as happy to be resting in the CCS at Ancona - Bari and Catania for the next few months !
    Cheers
     
  8. britman

    britman Senior Member

    Canadian troops had been in England since 1940 so I don't think it was an unreasonable expectation for the military/government to want to see them deployed. Australian, New Zealand, Indian and South African troops had been active in the Mediterranean theatre for some time by August of 1942.

    This was a raid planned by Combined Operations so to lay blame for the failure at the feet of the Canadian Government would seem to be misplaced. Canadian troops and the Canadian people wanted that as well. They hadn't travelled all that way to sit around. However, the desire to see action and being thrown into that sorry operation are two separate issues.
    Really no different than the New Zealand forces at Crete. The Kiwi's supplied the troops but were not making the strategic decisions.

    I disagree. That is your opinion. What other alternative actions were available at that time? Look, I agree the operation was a disaster and it should never had occurred. But with Mountbatten's Operation Jubilee getting approved and the Canadian Government looking for the boys to get action. They used them in this operation. Did any Canadian Officer disapprove of the Operation or voiced concerns?

    As for Mountbatten, his only real success was the St.Nazaire Raid. Oh and Mountbatten Pink. Crikey!
     
  9. Gerry Chester

    Gerry Chester WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Tom we must stop you shaking your head, it is my oversight not mentioning the event happened some days before your chaps narrived to do battle. .

    It so happened, soon after dawn on the day previous, the last obstacle lying before the Regiment's final objective, the San Clemente Ridge, was cleared of the enemy. Almost immediately a report came in from 46th Infantry Division CO that the Coriano Ridge had been evacuated by the enemy. 46th Infantry with an order for the NIH (under his command) to prepare to immediately support the infantry to occupy the ridge, sadly his decision was vetoed by higher command. Thus the scenario was written for a battle as fierce as was fought for Cassino.

    As 1st Armoured Division was to take over with the aim of swiftly advancing to Venice, NIH orders were to form a firm base on San Clemente Ridge, ‘B ‘ Squadron being instructeded to take up positions just below San Clemente Ridge, with. Ballyrashane positioned some hundred or so yards short of a farmhouse sitting on top of the ridge. After a while Major MacClean decided that he and I should go to the farmhouse for, as he put it, "a look-around." Once there, finding it was deserted and having a splendid view of the approaches to the Coriano Ridge and of the San Clemente Ridge itself he decided that we should stay in place.

    Hours passed, with no sign of 1st Division’s Shermans arriving. About an hour before dusk we saw enemy SPs and two long barreled Pz Mark IV’s taking up positions on Corianio Ridge., the Germans having taken the opportunity, due to the delay, to man the ridge.

    Skipper told me to “nip down” to Ballyrashane to tell Glyn Collard, the driver, to bring her up and to shelter on the lee side of the farmhouse. Major MacClean then immediately climbed aboard to radio HQ details about what had been seen. At the same time there was a tremendous thud of a projectile hitting the north wall of the farmhouse – immediately all were aboard a battened down Churchill.in which a very noisy night was spent. Fortunately the walls of the farmhouse were so strongly built that no damage resulted to the tank. As dawn was approaching we poked our heads out, as the firing had ceased, to find the decks littered with debris, mostly roofing tiles. Soon afterwards we heard the sounds of many engines coming from the south of our position. As the day lightened, the tanks of The Queen's Bays became visible in the valley behind us, lined up in a V-shaped formation no more than six or seven hundred yards away. At the appointed hour, came the sound of the tank's engines starting simultaneously and the charge began, unfortunately so did the slaughter. We watched, horrified, as the Bays' Shermans were almost totally destroyed.

    The late arrival was due to the whole of 1st Armoured Division’s moving north, with the Shermans also confined to the heavily congested roads. Progress being so slow, several tanks attempted to cross rivers only to fail climbing out of them.
     
  10. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Gerry - the reason that I was shaking my head about the events of 4th September was that we had started the battle on 25/26th August and had pushed through over the Metauro having a little fracas at Convento Beato Sante and Monbaroccio before hitting the Foglia and yet more fracas' at Pozzo Alto and point 119 - then on to Pieve for a small swan up to and over both the Tavolo and Ventena rivers to Monte Albano just past Cattolica - then we had a real slog from the Conca to past Riccione then by the 13th we had a two day rest at Cattolica before tackling San Martino once more where I bought it on the 17th.......and retired hurt !

    Both your 25th TB and the Bays of 1st Armoured came in later and were finishing up over by Croce and Gemmano at that time along with 7th Armoured Bde- with the powers that be saying that Coriano Ridge was secure by the 13th - what did they know as San Martino and San Fortunato still had to be dealt with by the Canadians and 21st TB - only then could Rimini be taken.....exciting times !
    Cheers
     
  11. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Just digressing to post Dieppe research and development.

    Saw an interesting items yesterday on the East Yorkshire regional news.The story goes back to the trials of the DD tank at Burton on Stather on the lower reaches of the Trent.Here the Trent is similar to the Rhine and the trials were conducted with the intention of using DD tanks to ford the Rhine in conjunction with the establishment of a bridgehead on the east side of the river when the time came..There must have been a change in the plan for task was undertaken by Operation Varsity by air.(The RAF also tended to use the Trent for training "on the Rhine")

    The specially built slipway has recently been rediscovered and exposed.Interestingly there was an interview with a former tank driver involved in the trial who said the test tank was a redundant Valentine.He said for the Rhine crossing,the DD technique was not utilised. Also the technique for getting the tanks across the river involved a contraption devised by Barnes -Wallis in that a steel rope strung across the river would be hooked on to by a steel rope from the tank. The tank would then be hauled across the river.Apparently,Barnes-Wallis stayed at the Ferry pub at Burton which had been requisitioned as the test HQ, for about 10 days during the duration of the trials.

    The Valentine used must have been one of the five that were allowed to be used for the DD trials in conjunction with the Normandy preparations.As regards the DD concept,it would appear that the RN were not interested because the tank did not have a rudder......so the story goes.
     
  12. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    I disagree. That is your opinion. What other alternative actions were available at that time? Look, I agree the operation was a disaster and it should never had occurred. But with Mountbatten's Operation Jubilee getting approved and the Canadian Government looking for the boys to get action. They used them in this operation. Did any Canadian Officer disapprove of the Operation or voiced concerns?


    Britman,

    The answer to that question will take some time to fully research but the chronology of events is important.
    The original Rutter operation was planned by Combined Operations HQ and approved by GHQ Home Forces. The nomination of the Canadian forces by Home Forces was a step taken well after the original planning was completed. General Andrew McNaughton, who commanded the First Canadian Army and General H.D.G. Crerar, commander of I Canadian Corps eagerly accepted the invitation and in turn, selected the 2nd Canadian Division under Major General JH 'Ham' Roberts. There appears to be no indication that any Canadian officers voiced serious reservations at that time but recall that the operational elements of Rutter (i.e. aerial and naval bombardment) turned out to be much different than the scaled back version for the later Jubilee plan. The original Intelligence report which described a single under strength German battalion in Dieppe would also have weighed heavily in that decision.
    Roberts, who eventually took the fall for the failure, accepted these orders and probably had little idea, at least initially, of any weaknesses in the plan.
    What happened from the point in April 1942 when the Canadians first accepted and then up to and including the conduct of the raid is where it gets interesting.
     
  13. Gerry Chester

    Gerry Chester WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Hi Randy,

    The serious question you originally posed deserves an equally serious well considered answer free of rhetoric, the sacrifice of lives, principally of your fellow countrymen, deserves nothing less.

    As soon as I finish a major project presently in hand, specific details of the officers and men of the North Irish Horse who gave their lives in both wars, with photographs of headstones, etcetera, analysis of several hundred photographs of documents relevant to Jubilee will be tackled - a fair number of which mention Sealion. Hopefully it will provide what you are seeking. To quote a well used American saying, “God willing and the creeks don’t flow over”.

    Cheers, Gerry

    PS

    An off topic note for my fellow Churchill veteran Tom. Both 21st and 25th Tank Brigades commenced the assault on the Gothic Line on the same day.
     
  14. 17thDYRCH

    17thDYRCH Senior Member Patron

    Gerry,
    I am very much looking forward to seeing your additional observations.
    It is a pleasure to dialogue with Veterans like yourself, Sapper, Ron and Tom.

    Canuck states the facts quite well. Dieppe, for Canada, was a national disgrace. No other day in WW2 produced the loss of Canadian lives like 19th Aug, 1942. This is not to diminish British or Americans lives that were lost that day.
    Historians have not been kind to either McNaughton or Crerar. Did they take on a scaled back plan of a doomed operation for the sake of 'getting in to the fight'?

    Best regards,
    Randy
     
  15. Gerry Chester

    Gerry Chester WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    "Historians have not been kind to either McNaughton or Crerar. Did they take on a scaled back plan of a doomed operation for the sake of 'getting in to the fight'?

    On behalf of my fellow veterans, thank you for your kind remarks Randy.

    As I took the photographs nearly two years ago, although they were scanned before my two cameras went into action, memory of much of the content is minimal. I suspect, however, an answer to your question will be found.

    Incidentaly, did you watch the Dieppe series, 1993, on TV? - CBC I think, or perhaps it may have been on the independent Canadian channel whose series, for which I was interviewed, is currently being shown. It is planned also to be on the Military Channel here in the US.

    Cheers, Gerry.
     
  16. 17thDYRCH

    17thDYRCH Senior Member Patron

    Gerry,
    On WW2 Veterans...In Canada, in most of the provinces, veterans can show that they served by ordering a special license plate which shows a poppy. Whenever I am on the highway or streets, If I see a veterans plate, I usually pull along side and salute using the British style of salute, not American ( no offence to my neighbours to the south....Tom Canning shared some 'Canning' and advised me of when the Canadian Forces adopted the US style of saluting). Needless to say, some of the veterans are absolutely petrified when they see me trying to get their attention. Their usual response once they see my salute is a warm smile and a slight nod of the head.

    I do recall seeing a 'made for tv' CBC production a few years ago. It was not complimentary to either Mountbatten or our General Staff.

    Please do tell about the show on the military channel. I suscribe to it.

    Cheers

    Randy
     
  17. Gerry Chester

    Gerry Chester WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    The series is about the deployment of tanks in World War Two, for which purpose they are contacting crews who manned them and hopefully finding they will agree to being intervewed by Heather Kohlman of the series producers.

    As Tunisia and Italy are next in line, Tom Canning (who was first contacted}, introduced me to Heather which resulted in a very long and interesting interview with her. After a couple of hours, when she started asking questions about Italy, I had to cut her short, due to a pending appointment with an osteopath who is treating the after effects of a disolated should suffered when I was in London. Doubtless both Tom and I will be hearing from her afore long.

    All the best,

    Gerry
     
  18. britman

    britman Senior Member

    Britman,

    The answer to that question will take some time to fully research but the chronology of events is important.
    The original Rutter operation was planned by Combined Operations HQ and approved by GHQ Home Forces. The nomination of the Canadian forces by Home Forces was a step taken well after the original planning was completed. General Andrew McNaughton, who commanded the First Canadian Army and General H.D.G. Crerar, commander of I Canadian Corps eagerly accepted the invitation and in turn, selected the 2nd Canadian Division under Major General JH 'Ham' Roberts. There appears to be no indication that any Canadian officers voiced serious reservations at that time but recall that the operational elements of Rutter (i.e. aerial and naval bombardment) turned out to be much different than the scaled back version for the later Jubilee plan. The original Intelligence report which described a single under strength German battalion in Dieppe would also have weighed heavily in that decision.
    Roberts, who eventually took the fall for the failure, accepted these orders and probably had little idea, at least initially, of any weaknesses in the plan.
    What happened from the point in April 1942 when the Canadians first accepted and then up to and including the conduct of the raid is where it gets interesting.

    Canuck.

    Thanks for the further insight on this. It does get interesting indeed.

    My questions are only purely of getting facts and are in no way to disrespect any Canadians. :poppy: We will remember them!
     
  19. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Gerry - thought I had answered you earlier - I was under the impression that that 25tb came on after Leese had finally figured out that we were understrength after we had crossed the Foglia - were you with 46th Div on our left flank as they were headed for Croce at that time and 1st Armoured were just coming into the area..
    Cheers
     
  20. Gerry Chester

    Gerry Chester WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Hi Tom,

    25th Tank Brigade under command of British 46th Infantry Division, and 21st Tank Brigade under command 1st Canadian Division started the assault on the Gothic Line at exactly the same time on August 25th. By September 3rd the line was broken suffering relatively few casualties in the process.

    If only Shermans, with their limited climbing ability, had been available to support the infantry the outcome would have been quite different, and it is not unreasonable to assume that Operation Olive possibly would not have taken place. Fortunately, thanks to one of the lessons learned at Dieppe Churchills were, otherwise they would have been long gone.

    Perhaps it may be of interest to start a topic on the march up Italy’s east coast. What say you?

    Cheers, Gerry.
     

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