Dieppe Raid, 19th August, 1942

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

  1. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    Not wishing to get into a scorecard argument over who did what where and who lost the most. This paper by Lt Colonel James Goodman Canadian Military Engineers appears to have a handle on it. Failure of planning and a growth of complexity. We are aware of 'first contact and the plans go out of the window' if you are having problems before contact that can only be bad planning.


    Not sure that Dieppe was the sole mover of the use of armour as used on D Day (Normandy) in the assault. The Combined Operations Experimental Establishment was in being from 1939:

  2. 17thDYRCH

    17thDYRCH Senior Member Patron


    Your main thrust here is that OP Jubillee helped in the planning of Operation Overlord. Assuming I have this correct, let's discuss your earlier point that the establishment of a 'second front' posed a problem for the Germans and therefore relieved some of the pressure on the Soviets.
    If that is the case, then somewhere in the planning files there must be supporting information as to what the Allies would have done had OP Jubillee been a success. Would the Allies be in a position to fast forward Overlord to August 20, 1942? Absolutely not.

    So, the generals and the planners decided do a little raid on Dieppe and see what happens? Well, here are the facts.
    Canadian KIA 907. Canadian wounded 586. Canadian captured 1,946. Combined British losses, either captured, wounded or killed amounted to 934.

    From the document supplied by Wills here is the author's conclusion:
    Operation Jubillee did not fail because of poor intel, a lack of preparation, or the loss of operational surprise. It failed because a plan that started out as a joint battle of land, sea and air forces had developed into an overly complex, scripted event that had no chance for success.

    As the other Canadians on this thread have stated, OP Jubillee was a complete disaster and had little to do with the success of Overlord.
    Nice debate, eh?
  3. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    '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', ----------- Might be reasonable to expect that being an 'historian' would lead to him being minded of the two fiascos #159 above, Battle of Tanga and Gallipoli both sea landing expeditions. Tanga one of the British army's disasters kept from public scrutiny until 1966. Mr Churchill was dismissed his post after these two expeditions. I do not 'do history', however, it would appear to me that a man who had to carry the can for these might not be the driving force for Dieppe - fire fingers ouch, fire fingers............ This also begs the question that much of the writings of Gallipoli were published without reference to Tanga as the official papers were withheld. Colonel Goodman #161 above states that he had access to more information than the official Canadian WW2 diarist many years before and when we realize that many papers have been and are withheld, some whilst named individuals were/are still alive this can lead to history being revisited.
  4. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    17thDYRCH and wills.

    Thank you for another copy of Lt Col Goodman's paper. Goodman appears to be extracting lessons for modern joint Ops. It is not clear how a more responsive flexible plan could have worked in 1942.

    There are lots of papers which can be quoted one way or a another about Dieppe. I'll match the Lt Col Goodman's paper with one by Col Boone, and raise you a level of rank and context. . "Recconascance in force" which addresses the points you raise.

    Several armoured engineering developments were under development already. However there is a causal link between the problems experienced at Dieppe and the development of the AVRE as a generic engineer vehicle. Just google Lt JJ Denovan RCE He is also credited in the British Official history of AFV design HMSO Publication The Universal Tank.

    As both quoted papers make clear, the Dieppe operation was planned and launched as a diversion with the aim of helping the Soviets who were fighting for their existence in 1942. During the 144 days from the start of the German Summer offensive on 28th June 1942 and the Red army attack on 19th November, the Red army lost over 680,000 ,men, 4,400 casualties a day. Every day Dieppe. scale losses.

    As the Fuehrer order dated 9th July 1942 illustrates Op Rutter & Jubilee were far more successful than many other diversionary operations. The decisive theatre in 1942 was southern Russia, and resulted in Stalingrad, generally seen as the turning point of the war against Germany. Yet within two weeks of the start of the campaign, Hitler ordered crack troops and aircraft to be diverted to a secondary front. That is a success of sorts.

    I do not know if the Fuhrer directive was intercepted and decoded by Ultra. If it had been,it might explain why so many people were to declare it as a success without documenting why.

    Past experience did encourage caution among the British leaders. Just be thankful that George C Marshall; and Joe Stalin did not get their way in 1942 and force the British to agree to a three division Gallipoli sized "second front" landing in France. We would be mourning a lot more than 900 dead.
  5. canuck

    canuck Closed Account

    Particularly if Mountbatten was in charge!


    No one is disputing the need of and the pressure for diversionary action and aggressive raiding in 1942. While the strategy was sound the execution was weak and rather than the nebulous "benefits" you ascribe, I suggest that the raid may have, in fact, undermined the strategic value. It was a large scale raid which failed to acheive a single objective, suffered enormous casualty rates and from which the Germans enjoyed much propaganda value. Are you suggesting that this fiasco somehow had more value than a well executed and successful raid might have attained?
    I'm struggling to understand how those beaches, littered with Canadian corpses, somehow terrified the Germans, bolstered the Russians and inspired the innovation of the Normandy invasion.

    The mythology of he Dieppe raid has been often repeated by historians and even today the disinformation and propaganda attempts to divert from the real failure that it was. The latest Enigma theory is frankly preposterous. Be thankful that I only question the incompetent planning, poor intelligence, site selection and security. Some Canadian writers offer a far more cynical and sinister view:

    "There are many indications that military failure was intended. First, the town of Dieppe happened to be, and was known to be, an eminently defensible site, and therefore necessarily one of the strongest German positions on the Atlantic coast of France. Anyone arriving there by ferry from England sees immediately that this port, surrounded by high and steep cliffs, bristling at the time with machine guns and cannon, must have been a deadly trap for the attackers. The Germans could not believe their eyes when they found themselves being attacked there. One of their war correspondents, who witnessed the inevitable slaughter, described the raid as “an operation that violated all the rules of military logic and strategy.” Other factors, such as poor planning, inadequate preparations, inferior equipment (such as tanks that could not negotiate the pebbles of Dieppe’s beach), make it seem more likely that the objective was military failure, rather than success.
    On the other hand, the Dieppe operation, including its bloody failure, actually made sense if it was ordered for a “latent” non-military purpose. Military operations are frequently carried out to achieve a political objective, and that seems to have been the case at Dieppe in August 1942. The Western Allies’ political leaders in general, the British political leadership in particular, and Prime Minister Churchill, above all, found themselves under relentless pressure to open a second front, were unwilling to open such a front, but lacked a convincing justification for their inaction. The failure of what could be presented as an attempt to open a second front, or at least as a prelude to the opening of a second front, did provide such a justification. Seen in this light, the Dieppe tragedy was indeed a great success, even a double success. First, the operation could be, and was, presented as a selfless and heroic attempt to assist the Soviets. Second, the failure of the operation seemed to demonstrate only too clearly that the western Allies were indeed not yet ready to open a second front. If Jubilee was intended to silence the voices clamouring for the opening of a second front, it was indeed a great success. The Dieppe disaster silenced the popular demand for a second front, and allowed Churchill and Roosevelt to continue to sit on the fence as the Nazis and the Soviets slaughtered each other in the East.
    The political motivation for Dieppe would explain why the lambs that were led to the slaughter were not American or British, but Canadian. Indeed, the Canadians constituted the perfect cannon fodder for this enterprise, because their political and military leaders did not belong to the exclusive club of the British-American top command who planned the operation, and who would obviously have been reluctant to sacrifice their own men. Our hypothesis likewise explains why the British were also involved, but in much smaller numbers, and why the Americans sent only a token force.
    After the tragedy of Dieppe, even Stalin stopped begging for a second front. The Soviets would eventually get one, but only much later, in 1944, when Stalin was no longer asking for such a favour. At that point, however, the Americans and the British had urgent reasons of their own for landing on the coast of France. Indeed, after the Battles of Stalingrad and Kursk, when Soviet troops were relentlessly grinding their way towards Berlin, “it became imperative for American and English strategy,” as two American historians (Peter N. Carroll and David W. Noble) have written, “to land troops in France and drive into Germany to keep most of that country out of [Soviet] hands.” When a second front was finally opened in Normandy in June 1944, it was not done to assist the Soviets, but to prevent the Soviets from winning the war on their own.
    The Soviets finally got their second front when they no longer wanted or needed it. (This does not mean that did they did not welcome the landings in Normandy, or did not benefit from the belated opening of a second front; after all, the Germans remained an extremely tough opponent until the very end.) As for the Canadians, who had been sacrificed at Dieppe, they also got something, namely, heaps of praise from the men at the top of the military and political hierarchy. Churchill himself, for example, solemnly declared that Jubilee had been “the key to the success of the landings in Normandy” and “a Canadian contribution of the greatest significance to final victory.” The Canadians were showered with prestigious awards, including no less than three Victoria Crosses. The hyperbolic kudos and the unusually high number of VCs probably reflected a desire on the part of the authorities to atone for their decision to send so many men on a suicidal mission in order to achieve highly questionably political goals."
    gpo son likes this.
  6. 17thDYRCH

    17thDYRCH Senior Member Patron


    Spot on!
  7. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    To state that the planning - execution of the Gustav Line is akin to the problems of Dieppe.....tells me that you have not studied the Liri Valley campaign in any depth whatever or you would

    know that it was a totally different ball game - or you have been reading the nonsense put forward from Gens. Clark and Juin who started the myth that 8th Army was slow.....as I keep on repeating

    " it is one thing to race over undefended mountains as the Arunci's.....but a totally different task in trying to open a thick barred and bolted defence built up to withstand much pressure " personally

    I thought 1st Cdn Div did very well to get through that obstacle in two days.....but I was 20 miles away at the time - Gerry Chester of the NIH was up front losing 14 Tanks along with 51st RTR losing

    another 14Tanks...very close to the start line to that particular Battle ..... it took time to get through that Valley- at a crawl ......but much faster with an undefended bunch of hills.....sure their were

    traffic problems - try getting five divisions through a 20 mile DEFENDED gap - with an Agra pushing in...

  8. gpo son

    gpo son Senior Member

    That is quite provocative.
    I've been watching this for a bit and must repeat a few very simple comments. Anyone who ever operated a tracked loader (bulldozer) in a quarry would know that it would be an impossible task to maneuver tanks in such loose Cobble. Any infantryman could tell you that traversing such loose material (in what were basically patent leather shoes with steel studs added) would be an almost impossible task; before adding a 60 lbs. pack (water soaked battledress in many cases) then add in a 10 to 20 percent grade. These outrageous beach conditions alone should have had the planners looking another beach. Never mind the total lack of operational security, fire support. Did I fail to mention the natural enfilade which turned the beaches into a shooting gallery.
    Its nearly universally supported that the allies needed to mount and carry out raiding along the coast when and where possible. Here the where is the only question. the answer anywhere but Dieppe.
    The 2nd Canadian division was wasted as was, (say for comparison) the 51st Highland Div in 1940 for little or no strategic or tactical gain.
    The phase first used by Lloyd George comes to mind "Lions lead by Donkeys"

    canuck likes this.
  9. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    Alexander the Great: I am never afraid of an army of lions led by a lamb, I fear an army of lambs led by a lion heart. The Times of London during the Sevastapol campaign. reported the alleged words of a Russian describing the British - 'lions led by asses'.
  10. Jonathan Ball

    Jonathan Ball It's a way of life.

    I think your confusing David Lloyd George with Alan Clark there, Matt.
  11. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    I think the planning for Operation Diadem was excellent and the operation was successful. I agree with your comments on the difficulties facing 8th army pushing up the Lire valley. While the Liri Valley looks like a flat plain on the map or from the air or from Pt 593, it is a lot more lumpy and close ground level. Very little of Italy could be described as "good tank country"

    In case I had not made it clear. My comparison was concerning the attacks on the Gustav line between Dec 1943 and March 1944, (i.e. before the May offensive) was abysmal and show the generals involved in a very poor light. Moutnbatten seems to have attracted disproportionate criticism compared to Clark and Alexander who escaped lightly given the losses and the rather slipshod and unrealistic planning for much of 5th Army in Winter 1943-44. With hindsight Dieppe asked expected too much of the soldiers, and put too much faith in surprise. It was also all over in 24 hours and followed by lots of time spent on "lessons learned" The uncoordinated attacks in January 1944 ending with the fiasco of the 36 Div at the Rapido was followed by a repeat performance in February and March asking the impossible on the Monte Cassino Massif. Followed by self congratulation s over the capture of Rome, and some repeats of the Gustav line problems the following autumn in the Gothic line.

    Oh and just what was the purpose of the offensives on the Gothic line in autumn 1944?
  12. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    I can only agree with you on the planning of the initial battles of Cassino from Dec - March '44.....as this was in the hands of the US 5th Army - who made the cardinal sin of reinforcing the failure of 34th US division with the French/North African corps - the battle of 36th Division at Pietro en fine was another bad example - which was called to account after the war - but the teflon coated Clark was forgiven....

    he then master minded the second and third battles with mainly the Kiwis and 4th Indians which were never the same again- only then did Alexander insist on bringing 8th Army over from the coast
    to clear both Cassino and the Liri Valley to the biggest cock up in History by Clark disobeying orders to capture Rome - granted there were a few escape routes for the Germans via Narni - Terni and Rietti - BUT by stopping them at Valmontone - just perhaps - the battles of the Gothic Line might NOT have been necessary - as it was Leese refused to fight alongside Clark BUT we had to give up two corps of six divisions to replace the force demanded by the idiotic landing at the South of France.....

    Not too well known is the conversation between Harding and Alex when it was known that Clark had disobeyed orders at Valmontone - Alex - in a fury - asked " what can I do " as he knew perfectly well that the US had the largest hand by that time - and played it for all it was worth.

    The Gothic Line was truly unnecessary and cost 8th Army 14,000 KIA including 306 of my Brigade - and thousands wounded filling the hospitals for months - and the seven cemeteries - the main problems at the Gothic was the shortage of manpower - rain - snow - ice

  13. gpo son

    gpo son Senior Member

    Perhaps popularized is better but it is I believe attributed to Lloyd George here. Quoted from the online Biography of David Lloyd George found here. http://www.biographyonline.net/politicians/uk/lloyd-george.html
    I might add, the one good thing did come from Dieppe was that it was the beginning of the end for the dim witted second sons of aristocracy and their sycophantic cronies; by the end of 1942, rank for the most was held by virtue of, merit not birth. IMHO
  14. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    Put to us in a lecture - 'the myth of British command WW1' Often said the British general officer and field officer was a dim-witted fool from the aristocracy. The Staff college opened in 1802 and from the 1850s a two year course (passed Psc) for all future commanders. The sons of aristocracy went out with purchase of commissions late 19th century when the idea of joining a 'fashionable regiment' stopped. When the general staff were confronted with WW1 most commanders had come from an army used to colonial policing and bush wars. Many certainly made mistakes but they learned fast in an industrial war. Questioning of tactics - what were the Germans doing? Fire and manoeuvre. flanking attacks or were they also bogged down in trench warfare? 87 general officers were KIA - dangerous place miles behind the lines! The British army officer corp suffered (pro rata) a high casualty rate - the notion that officers had to lead ensured a higher rate (pro rata) than the German officer corp and the rank and file. There were generals of note, there were also generals like Haking -'Butcher Haking'. These generals when in later years had funerals attended in some cases by huge numbers of people. Some historians talk of the 'bitterness of the poor fools who fought the war' the same who joined Yeomanry and TA units post war the same who formed regimental associations etc. Few historians have tried the poor uneducated tipping the forelock masses sent off to war by the aristocracy - hardly a clever move as the 'aristocracy' was decimated. Put a young lad in a second lieutenants uniform leading from the front - next! 1942 onward rank held by merit ? Alan Brooke, Montgomery, Alexander, de Guingand and most if not all commanders products of the Staff College as students and instructors of the pre war army - aristocrats? Yes it is safe to say Montgomery would not have had the wealth to join a cavalry regiment he still made one star (brigadier) rank in peacetime. Some still believe that chinless wonders survive in the army - 30 Jocks with a boss who has no clue - 5 minutes at best.

    An exercise in trumpet blowing (below) but it does give backgrounds: Off topic? Maybe but another view is sometimes required bad soldiering or bad historians? Said before - not as though British generals did not know how, it was often with what. LLoyd George on Haig, 'from the toe of his polished boots to the top of his cap a thoroughly professional soldier'

  15. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    Perhaps I have misinterpreted something but I thought Lloyd George settled his personal score with Haig with the damning phrase "brilliant to the top of his army boots".
  16. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    Not true. The move to scientific methods of officer selection from a wider pool of talent started much earlier

  17. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    Indeed Lloyd George changed his views of Haig the other generals and the admirals who he claimed collectively misled him, he was scathing of the Tory party and suggested that only the Liberals had the answers. Like many a politician very selective and much from memory. He was on occasion right but some of his claims may or may not stand scrutiny. Did Lloyd George not suggest a unified command at one point under Nivelle, Haig had reservations but once commited carried out the orders - is it not also true that Lloyds Georges memory is at time at odds with events. Off to help a friend download and set up Linux Mint 15 on a laptop given to them.
    dbf likes this.
  18. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

  19. No.4CommandoBairn

    No.4CommandoBairn Well-Known Member

    In 1997, certificates were created in Paris for those who had taken part in the Dieppe Raid. As my dad died in 1992, I sent away for his. I haven't been able to get it framed because I'm just not sure I want it on the wall.

    Dad was proud to have done what was asked of him that day, being part of No.4 Commando, but I'm not sure what he'd think of a certificate having his name on. I'm proud he took part and having something with his name on is nice to have.

    When I think of Dieppe I think of another Commando Bairn whose dad didn't return, in fact, he has no burial place. I think of all those other brave men, of various nationalities, who had little or no chance at all. I feel sad when I think of Dieppe.

    The certificate may well be in its envelope for a while yet.
    gpo son likes this.
  20. canuck

    canuck Closed Account

    Nice post.
    A reminder to me that I have focused exclusively on the Canadian aspects of the raid. My apologies.
    The Commandoes, Royal Navy and RAF also lost heavily that day.
    52 fatal casualties among the 1,075 Commandoes who participated, 75 from the RN and 62 in the air. Also 3 U.S. Rangers.

Share This Page