Dieppe Raid, 19th August, 1942

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

  1. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    Re 1. I have looked at the amphibious landings that took place between Dieppe and D Day. The major landings in the Mediterranean (Torch, Husky Avalanche and Shingle) were launched at night with an attempt to obtain surprise. The Pacific landings pre D Day were on a tiny scale compared to overlord, and most of these prior to Tarawa were were unopposed. At Tarawa the 35k US marines took 3k casualties landing in daylight after a heavy bombardment against an isolated enemy they outnumbered 9:1. I doubt if the Overlord Planners would have considered that template. Mountbatten and other combined Ops observers who accompanied Husky repeatedly warned planners not to draw the wrong lessons from Op Husky and cited Dieppe as the kind of problem they faced in NW Europe.

    The Dieppe raised mattered because it was a lesson learned at a cost of lives. There is a natural human tendency to want to believe that resources can be stretched a little further than they really can. People donlt learn lessons from success or from other people. In WW1, it took years to learn how much fire support is needed to suppress an enemy in prepared defences. The First Day of the Somme illustrated the cost of getting it wrong. The Overlord planners were under a lot of pressure to use as much shipping as possible to transport troops. Husky landed seven divisions on D Day with 3,000 ships. Overlord landed six using 5,000 ships. Much of the difference was in the number of ships used to provide fire support or landing AFvs that provided support from the surf. Had there been no op Jubilee it is possible that Op Overlord might have been launched at the wrong time of day with insufficient fire support.

    Re 2. You can using the Digital Library of the US Combined arms Research Library http://www.cgsc.edu/carl/resources/ The an excellent set of papers from the ETO USA conference on Assault landings held in London by the US Army in May-June 1943 about the problems of carrying out an amphibious landing across the channel and the techniques needed to do so. These include almost all the techniques and tactics used in on D Day a year later, including amphibious tanks, engineering tanks, landing craft with all sorts of fire support, field artillery providing fire support from landing craft . There is a second set which is the report on the training course run by Combined Operations at Largs between July 1943 and March 1944 to train the army of staff officers needed to plan Op Overlord in detail. This is evidence that D Day was based on the lessons from Dieppe rather than Husky, Avalanche and Shingle.

    People also tend to overlook another major result of Op Jubilee is often forgotten. That is the beneficial impact that it had on the Germans.

    Firstly, the shipping assembled for Op Rutter and used for Op Jubilee was noticed by the Germans and in July 1942 Hitler ordered the SS panzer Corps , the 7th Falllschirrmjaeger Diviison and four bomber gruppen to be withdrawn from the Eastern Front to France. It would be far fetched to suggest that this turned the balance at Stalingrad, but it was a reduction in German forces.

    Secondly, the Germans learned false lessons from Dieppe. They thought the allies would need to attack a port and that the Atlantic Wall could defeat an invader at the waters edge. Thus OKW was complacent about the defence of France. They poured concrete around Cherbourg and le Havre leaving the coastline between the Vire and the Orne was the lowest but one priority in the 7th Army sector. On the 6th June 1944 some bunkers on Omaha and Gold beaches were unfinished.

    Op Jubilee was a huge help to the eventual success of Op Overlord. It is unlikely that the lessons would have been learned and absorbed unless [planners were reminded of the losses at Dieppe. The men who suffered there did not do so in vain.
  2. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Apart from a couple that weren't:

    BAYTOWN (3 Sep 43) was the British landing on the toe of Italy. Although it was a night landing, it was preceded by a two-day bombardment from guns on Sicily, in part to distract the Germans before AVALANCHE.

    CORKSCREW another British landing, this time on the small, fortified island of Pantellaria on 12 Jun 43. This was a day landing preceded by a month-long aerial bombardment. As well as resembling the US Pacific scenario - an isolated island can't be reinforced - and techniques, it also pre-dates them by a considerable margin.

    These weren't points on a line of doctrinal evolution, they were specific plans to deal with specific problems. So were JUBILEE and NEPTUNE, but having a specific plan doesn't guarantee it's a good one.
    dbf likes this.
  3. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    Can you clarify the point you are trying to make?

    If you read the text of Major General Haydon's lecture to ETOUSA you can see how both Baytown and Corkscrew fit the doctrine. Baytown was a diversion, but launched against a known defended point, close enough to be treated as a river crossing and Corkscrew for the obvious reasons.

    The evidence for the doctrinal evolution is from Jubilee to Nepture, via the briefings by Hughes Hallett and Roberts given in May 1943. It in the ETOUSA conference pack.
  4. idler

    idler GeneralList

    It was more an observation than a point: that not all landings in the Mediterranean conformed to the prevalent method of surprise, night-time landings.

    It was also partly a reaction to the terminology. To me, evolution implies a gradual improvement. If we discount what went on in the Med as solutions to different problems, it might be fairer to say that there was a doctrinal revolution between Jubilee and Neptune as most of the lessons learned at Dieppe were of the "you don't want to do it like that" variety. Tactics and techniques tended to be different, not just better.
    canuck likes this.
  5. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    Is a qualifying "main" better? I agree with your main point. The techniques used to p;lan and launch Op Neptune, the cross channel invasion resulted from the learned on Op Jubiliee. The planners successfully avoided applying inappropriate lessons from operations with similarities, but a different balance of tactical problems.

    This is an easier judgement in hindsight than might have been obvious to contemporaries. In principle, there were many more similarities than differences between the Cross channel invasion of Normandy and the invasion of Sicily. Each was to be launched by an army group of allied troops against a coastal fortified belt with a garrison of fortress troops backed by mobile troops based on panzer troops. The pattern and near success of the German counter attacks at Gela, Salerno and Anzio in an Italian side show signaled the likely German reaction to a cross channel invasion. The performance of allied airborne forces might have warned against any reliance on an unreliable arm that had before d Day only achieved feeble results at a heavy cost.

    At the risk of stating the unfashionable, Mountbatten presided over a Combined Arms organisation which thought about what it was doing and learned and quickly applied applied the key tactical lessons. This is something which took a lot longer in WW1 and, arguably during several Post WW2 conflicts.
  6. 17thDYRCH

    17thDYRCH Senior Member Patron

    Somewhere on another thread, our good friend Wills, furnished an interview with Monty conducted by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation back in the 60's. If you are interested, please search for it on youtube. In that interview Monty confirms that the OP Jubilee was a complete SNAFU with little impact or benefit to the Normandy landings 22 months later. Period. End of Story.
  7. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

  8. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    I am sure its a fascinating interview. However, very little that Monty said post war was has been accepted as "end of story"

    1. Montgomery had a habit of creative post ,match analysis which did little to endear him to his WW2 colleagues or post war historians. He had his own axe to grind - his personal reputation for infallibility. Montgomery wanted Rutter, the previous version of Jubiliee cancelled because the on-off delays would compromise surprise. Monty was good at saying "I told you so". Montgomery's post war stance on Op Overlord was that the plan was hopeless until he came back and worked his magic. The idea that valuable lessons were learned from Dieppe was not part of his narrative.

    2. Montgomery's claim is that there were few lessons to be learned from trying and failing to make a frontal attack on a well defended position is a good sound bite, but is flawed in several respects.

    a. Until Dieppe the Allied Combined operations had been extraordinarily successful in launching coup de main attacks by surprise. Earlier in 1942 a battalion sized force had sailed up a river past coastal defences and into the middle of one of of the most important ports, St Naizaire and seized control of the port for half a day. In WW1 there had been coup de main attacks on Zeebrugge and later in WW2 Augusta and Taranto would fall to a sea borne force. Dieppe demonstrated that there was a limit to how many troops could be sneaked ashore. Husky, Salerno and Shingle appeared to demonstrate how a night landing could succeed without the need for full scale artillery preparation. Without Dieppe that there would have been a strong argument to try Overlord the way that other attacks appeared to work, because this allowed for more assult troops and a wider beachhead.

    b. As previously posted, one crucial lesson was the proportion of the shipping capacity which needed to be devoted to fire support as opposed to assault troops. Monty was usually a big fan of fire support, The result of Dieppe was that when he arrived in the UK in Jan 1944, the system was already geared up to provide a suitable level of fire support. There were few of the arguments that bedeviled the planning for Op Husky. It is quite possible that without Dieppe, Monty would have arrived with his Op Market Garden mentality and accepted a plan based on surprise. Op Overlord might have been subject to the kind of overconfidence that led to "A bridge too far" or the First Day of the Somme,

    3. War is a big SNAFU.(Karl von Clausewitz) Actions have unintended consequences. Whatever the allies intended from the Dieppe raid the result was a disaster for the Germans. Hitler did order a transfer of troops to France in July 1942 as aresult of the shipping for Op Rutter. The raid did lead some senior Germans to believe that they had defeated an invasion attempt and to undertake the folly of a fixed defence on the waters edge, disproportionately focused on defending ports. There is a fashion for making a critical review of a battle from the point of view of only one side. Decision in Normandy, by Carlo D'Este is largely an analysis of the extent to which the allies did what they said they were going to do, and ignores the German reaction as an irrelevance. The Dieppe debate tends to be even more one sided, but utterly pointless unless the impact on the Germans is considered.

    No counterfactuals can be proved. It may be that the "common sense" claimed in retrospect by critics of Dieppe would have prevailed. But Human beings also have a big capacity for self delusion and a track record of learning more from their own experience than from thought experiments or other people's mistakes. War is full of examples of armies that are slow to learn lessons.

    How we 70- years later perceive Dieppe, and the sacrifices of those who fought is a matter of choice. We can choose to consider these men as betrayed and sacrificed pointlessly, by incompetent or callous commanders. Or we can choose to reflect on the chaotic and unpredictability of war, the difficult choices facing commanders in a war for national survival and remember those who fought as men whose actions played a part, however obscure, in victory.
  9. canuck

    canuck Closed Account

    I'm struggling to understand the merits of this argument. If one accepts that the unintended consequence (benefit) of the raid was the mistaken assumptions drawn by the Germans, that entirely unpredictable result could hardly be claimed afterwards as justification. They could equally have focused on beach defense vs ports and thus compromised the Normandy landings.
  10. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Courage remembered.

    As an aside to the discussion,I noted a DT a interesting death announcement on Thursday September 26, 2013 which may have some connection with the operation at Dieppe. The deceased was 91 years of age and would have been about 20 years old at the time of the operation but no military unit is mentioned.

    From the announcement "Edward was in the process of planning a 3 year travel itinerary for himself with Susan (his wife) when he died and his ambition was to have started in Dieppe to acknowledge the terrible loss of life to the Canadians in their attack there in WW2. Susan will now go there alone with some of his ashes"
  11. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    Warfare is a two player game with uncertain information like cards. It isn't an engineering exercise. The enemy has a say, and no one can guarantee what they will do either. It is also chaotic, German doctrine since Clausewitz was predicated on that assumption, with the implication that it is futile to impose order from the top hence auftragstaktik. Its only the Anglo Americans who thought that order can be imposed on a battle - hence Monty.

    Churchill wasn't a doctrine wonk,. but he was a historian. His feeling for history and instincts told him that encouraging aggressive souls to wage war on the Germans by raiding over the channel was a good idea, which is why he backed aggressive commanders like Mountbatten. Nelson once advised that "no captain can do wrong if he places his ship alongside an enemy" that is far fro ma detailed plan. but a statement that it is the kind of activity that will lead to good results. Retrospectively, the raiding policy was very successful. Even the least successful, Dieppe led to beneficial results, as I have described.

    What would you have done, given the information in front of you in 1942. The soviets are demanding a second front to take the pressure off them. The American Army is very keen to see a second front because that is how they have justified Germany first to the US navy. The UK is spattered with "second front now" graffiti. The Canadians are desperate for action anywhere apart from the Aldershot NAAFI. Combined Operations is a large organisation with orders to conduct aggressive raids on the coast of occupied Europe and develop the techniques which will allow the allies to launch an invasion. What would you do as Mountbatten to further the war effort?
  12. canuck

    canuck Closed Account

    Calling Dieppe the "least successful" raid is akin to describing the Titanic maiden voyage as "eventful". Both are euphemisms which mask what were outright debacles.
    That the raid had "beneficial" results is not universally accepted in any any event and given that the German response to the raid could not be forseen, it is a stretch to suggest that this, in any way, was even an indirect objective of the raid. Unless you are suggesting that creating 'chaos' has merit in and of itself. It could be equally argued that a truly successful raid would have had far more decisive influences on German doctrine, to the Allies advantage.
    I won't argue against the necessity and ultimate success of the British strategy of aggressive raiding against the Germans. But I would disassociate that strategy from the ill-conceived and badly executed attack at Dieppe. In fact, the large scale attack on a defended port was not at all consistent with the previous pattern of economical, surgical strikes with limited and achievable objectives. I would suggest that Mountbatten actually deviated from the proven strategy at Dieppe which was one of the root causes of the failure.
    The final part of your post is an apology for Mountbatten in that he had to do "something" to satisfy all the pressures you describe for a second front. Well, in the end, he didn't deliver on that count either. A one day raid by a single Canadian division is hardly a second front and the lack of support from other arms suggest that the British command didn't regard it in that light either. So, it was a large scale raid and the range of options open to Mountbatten was almost limitless. Again, I would suggest that a successful raid would have done far more to satiate the Soviets and bolster morale on the home front. Squandering the better part of a Canadian division at Dieppe
    accomplished nothing but leaving fewer troops for the landings in Sicily in 1943.
    More importantly, none of the points you put forward offer any defence for those who planned Jubilee. Whatever the rationale, the ends didn't justify the means. No matter how well meaning, they proved to be completely inept.
    In retrospect, the only advice I could offer Mountbatten is to avoid pissing off the Irish.
  13. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    I understand the passion behind your arguments. But war is sometimes a callous business, Sometimes lives are sacrificed to see if tactics work. There are far worse losses of life, e.g ion the "diversionary attacks" in both World Wars which clearly failed to divert any enemy whatsoever. Dieppe is not one of these. The evidence is there to show that the shipping for Rutter encouraged Hitler to reinforce France at the expense of the east front. Valuable lessons were learned and adopted. l

    You have ridiculed the Dieppe Raid, but what would you do instead? It is a cop out to claim that you would not have done as badly. Where would you have have launched an operation of at least a divisional size, with what resources and plans?
  14. canuck

    canuck Closed Account


    The Canadians who served in NW Europe and Italy fought many tough actions and were given many difficult assignments. The Scheldt comes to mind. They suffered a higher casualty rate in Normandy than either the British or Americans, were bombed by Allied air forces, faced the best of the SS formations and had in excess of 130 soldiers murdered. There were mistakes, miscalculations and the usual fog of war. They accepted the savagery that war is and performed their assignments under those conditions. No complaints that their lot was any better or worse than any other Allied unit.
    Dieppe was DIFFERENT and Canadian vets who fought on other fronts remain bitter over it. For all the many reasons quoted in this and other threads, it stands uniquely alone. They felt they had no chance whatsoever. The orchestrated cover up that followed only angered them more. Go to Puys and judge for yourself.

    What I would have done is quite irrelevant to the conversation. That is pure " what if" speculation. We can only comment on the events that occurred and the specific choices and decisions made by the planners. Your arguments suggest that the troops were doomed by inescapable circumstances. It is difficult to accept that perspective when so many basic military principles were violated or ignored.
  15. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....


    There is no dispute about the bitterness that the Dieppe raid caused in Canada or among Canadian troops. The experience was shocking, the losses heavy and the results not immediately apparent. It was widely believed, inside and outside the services, that the operation was pointless. As you have pointed out, Dieppe was not the only time that Canadian soldiers took heavy casualties attacking strong German defences. The 2nd Canadian Division suffered more dead and wounded in the advances from Caen to Falaise than at Dieppe. The infantry attacking the SS on Op Atlantic had little or no better protection from bullets than at Dieppe, also planned and conducted with generous assistance from messrs Cockup and SNAFU. The difference with Dieppe was that it took place in isolation and before the operation could be put into context or the results became evident. This difference has more to do with public interest and the story of how the Dieppe operation was perceived than in the planning or execution of the operation.

    I accept that there are limitations to counter factual "what if history", but causality is fundamental historic concept. It is inconsistent argue that the results of Op Jubilee did not justify its cost, based on assumptions about alternative histories but then choose to ignore the evidence that the results were significant, or the possibility that things might have turned out far worse. If we are to understand why rational professionals decided that Op Jubilee should be mounted, we should try to understand the information they possessed, the choices available and the potential impact of those choices. Any comments on the decisions made by the planners are based on judgments about what they might have done instead!

    The principles of war are broadly framed and contradictory, and easiest applied in hindsight. Whatever criticisms can be made of the tactics at Dieppe are mitigated by the assumption of tactical surprise, justified by experience from earlier commando raids. Had 2nd Canadian Division taken part in the St Nazaire raid using the same tactics as at Dieppe, the principles of war would be quoted to support the audacious tactics of the raid.
  16. canuck

    canuck Closed Account

  17. canuck

    canuck Closed Account

    DieppeCanadianWar BoulangerR1.jpg dieppecanadianwar.jpg dieppe.jpg dieppe1.jpg

    There are about 900 good reasons why this battle needs to be reviewed, discussed and not swept away as just bad luck.

    United Kingdom Gunner 911977Royal Artillery02/06/1940 Age: 25 C. 69.
    United Kingdom Pilot Officer ( W.Op./Air Gnr. ) 171020Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve04/05/1944 N. 7.
    United Kingdom Warrant Officer ( Nav. ) 581211Royal Air Force21/05/1943 Age: 22 H. 16.
    Canadian Trooper L/54835Calgary Regiment R.C.A.C.19/08/1942 L. 66.
    Canadian Private B/37982Royal Hamilton Light Infantry R.C.I.C.19/08/1942 Age: 21 D. 30.
    United Kingdom Aircraftman 2nd Class ( W. Op/Air Gnr. ) 619761Royal Air Force04/05/1940 Age: 19 A. 69.
    Canadian Corporal B/66879Royal Regiment of Canada R.C.I.C.19/08/1942 Age: 31 G. 69.
    Canadian Private B/67531Royal Regiment of Canada R.C.I.C.19/08/1942 Age: 25 J. 76.
    Canadian Private L/12289South Saskatchewan Regiment R.C.I.C.19/08/1942 Sp. Mem. 6.
    Canadian Private B/37604Royal Hamilton Light Infantry R.C.I.C.19/08/1942 Age: 37 E. 26.
    Canadian Private D/61129Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal R.C.I.C.19/08/1942 Age: 21 K. 47.
    United Kingdom Surgeon Lieutenant Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve19/08/1942 Age: 33 C. 2.
    Canadian Private D/61691Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal R.C.I.C.19/08/1942 L. 59.
    Canadian Private B/37107Royal Hamilton Light Infantry R.C.I.C.19/08/1942 Age: 32 A. 63.
    United Kingdom Private 3854009The Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire)19/08/1942 Age: 30 F. 62.
    Canadian Private A/22008Essex Scottish Regiment R.C.I.C.19/08/1942 D. 51.
  18. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    Can only agree with your 900 reasons to review Dieppe as the 6000 reasons lost at Agira - Ortona - Hitler -

    Gustav and the Gothic Lines were lost in necessary and better planned attacks...

  19. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    No strangers to amphibious warfare.(some may suggest we are strangers to learning) General Wolfe, the Battle of Tanga (almost a full dress rehearsal for Dieppe ?) and Gallipoli but a few:


    Safe to assume that someone like Montgomery who had himself exercised beach assaults at Slapton Sands in 1938 would have learned the lessons from these all field officers use past battles to learn the 'art'. The politics and the need for 'players' to prove themselves can be seen in all of the allied armies. Maybe Montgomery who could in his mind marginalize 'side shows' as irrelevant and if not within his remit - give an opinion and turn his mind to other things.
  20. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    I agree. A review and a discussion involves ideas and debate, and a willingness to challenge preconceptions.

    Until a couple of years ago I used to repeat the mantra that this was a utter disaster, compounded by Mountbatten's personality, and a great study of how not to plan an operation. Then I had to check the facts, read some sources and study the battle in detail. What I found made me reconsider the view I had as an accepted until then. This is why I have taken an unfashionable position on a topic which still provokes strong emotions and widely seen as a symbol of incompetence and failure by "butchers and bunglers".

    Rightly we mourn all our war dead. The debate over Dieppe concerns whether the benefits of the operation to the allies outweighed the costs and whether it was mounted competently. The list of the dead from Dieppe is lengthy, and includes one of my relatives. It isn't It isn't as easy to list those who were saved because the raid at Dieppe took place, but they do exist. How about:-

    The members of the Red Army who did not face the troops withdrawn from Russia to deal with the threatened "second front".
    he Allied soldiers who lived because the right tactics were used on D Day,
    he allied soldiers who lived because, as a direct result of Dieppe the AVRE was invented to tackle the problems experienced at Dieppe.
    he Allied soldiers who lived because the German leaders were convinced by their success at Dieppe that they failed to adequately defend the French Coast.

    These are less tangible than the roll of the dead from Dieppe, but they must be considered in assessing how we view Dieppe 3/4 of a century later. Of course it is possible to believe , with the advantage of hind sight that all of this could have been achieved without taking risks. I could add 19,000 names that resulted from an attack launched on 1 July 1916 based on the kind of armchair planning that wishful thinking would have us believe could have avoided the risks of losing 900 at Dieppe.

    PS IMHO the conduct of the Gustav line battles of Dec 43-March 44 are far more reprehensible, costly and futile than Op Jubilee.

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