Dismiss Notice
A reminder that, as is traditional around here, the forum will close for 20 minutes (11/11/19) around 1100, for Armistice Day.
~A

Dieppe

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by Dpalme01, Nov 5, 2004.

  1. Dpalme01

    Dpalme01 Member

    What actually happened at Dieppe?
     
  2. Gerry Chester

    Gerry Chester WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

  3. Kiwiwriter

    Kiwiwriter Very Senior Member

    Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. The British/Canadian invaders lacked virtually all the paraphernalia the later invasions of Normandy and Iwo Jima had, including battleship naval bombardment, amphibious tanks, DUKWs, LSTs, and engineers. The Churchill tanks' treads broke up on the shingle, the Canadian infantry was completely pinned down, the communications did not work, and the German defenses were not silenced.

    An utter disaster.

    The Germans used footage of the wreckage in propaganda films in 1944, claiming the shots of the Dieppe raid were what was going on in Normandy, to cheer up the folks back in Stuttgart.
     

    Attached Files:

  4. Dpalme01

    Dpalme01 Member

    Thanks
    Dp
     
  5. webbhead

    webbhead Member

    I visited Dieppe this autumn and found it one of the most moving parts of my trip around European war sites. Basically, the Allies were supposed to go in with the full support of air and sea firepower. The idea was for them to destroy the German bunkers on the cliffs to allow the troops to storm the beach. Thanks largely to Lord Mountbatten & general politics, the air & sea support was wittled down to the point where the troops stormed the beaches to face the full brunt of the German defenses. As you can see from my attached photos, the bunkers are alive and intact to this day. To top it off, British bombers at nearby Falaise accidentally bombed Canadian troops, killing hundreds (see Fussell's book Wartime for an account of this). Newspaper propaganda skewed the truth about what was basically a giant f**k-up by reporting Dieppe as a "great Allied victory" (as the Toronto Star reported it on Aug 20/ 42). Today the bunkers perch atop the cliffs like ominous igloos, with no commemorative plaques or indications as to what they are. If you ever visit Dieppe, go check out these stark reminders of that disastrous day.

    Attached photos show:
    1 - View of Dieppe and beach from atop the cliffs
    2 - top of German bunker, looking down on beach
    3 - closeup of bunker, with open slit for observation/ firing
     
  6. No.9

    No.9 Senior Member

    A bit of a wide question Dp, perhaps better to ask about one or more specific elements? Easy to find lots of references on the web, some reasonable some pretty awful (as usual), and plenty of specific books, again some well done some ridiculous. I would say when you feel fairly well conversant with Dieppe, read "Unauthorised Action" by Brian Villa - a book to read last, not first.

    Operation Jubilee was the resurrected Operation Rutter. In both cases the operation was only a Combined Operations raid - i.e. land, bang-bang and come away again. Historians continue to argue about the priority of the reasons which included; an escalation of scale of operations for Combined Ops; a chance for new Combined Ops chief (and well connected 'golden boy') Louis Mountbatten to flex his muscles after taking over from Roger Keyes; a tryout of armoured amphibious landing; a tryout of frontal attack on a fortified port of the Atlantic Wall; to demonstrate to Stalin that the Allies were not intending to let the Soviets do all the fighting in Europe. A number of secondary considerations occurred in the detail, such as the decision not to subject Dieppe to a customary heavy pre-attack bombardment (to minimise French collateral damage) and the idea that the RAF's success over Britain in 1940 could be replicated over Dieppe by throwing enough planes in.

    Undoubtedly a lengthy pre bombardment/bombing of Dieppe would have helped, but the British were totally unaware of the full extent of emplacements located in the overlooking cliffs and hills. The heavy batteries covering the approach didn't play a part as one was destroyed by No.4 Commando - the only really successful element of the raid - and the other was prevented from being used by No.3 Commando - unable to land in force after their flotilla was dispersed in a sea engagement with a German convoy (which they British knew was likely to be in the area). Air superiority was not achieved despite the huge number of sorties flown where the RAF came off worse.

    The German defences proved devastating to the approaching Allied landing craft and equally to the man and armour which managed to get ashore. Tanks which made the beach were mostly picked-off as they floundered on the shingle (which damaged their tracks) or failed to climb the beach walls or were stopped by standard tank-traps. Incursions inland were minimal, opportunist and unsupported according to plan. The new Royal Marines Commandos committed to the frontal attack were equally ineffective.

    The lessons learnt contributed towards planning for D-Day in some way, but Dieppe was not a rehearsal.

    No.9
     
  7. Dpalme01

    Dpalme01 Member

    Thanks
    I had checked various sites that I had considered somewhat reliable, but I was getting mixed messages ie. that this was more experimental. I had some background knowledge, at least eno;ugh to get suspiciouse
    Dp
     
  8. angie999

    angie999 Very Senior Member

    Originally posted by webbhead@Dec 2 2004, 02:32 PM
    To top it off, British bombers at nearby Falaise accidentally bombed Canadian troops, killing hundreds (see Fussell's book Wartime for an account of this).


    Are you sure that this wasn't during the Falaise Pocket phase of the Normandy breakout in 1944? During that period, Canadian 1st Army suffered several "short" bombings from both the RAF and USAAF.

    And Falaise is nowhere near Dieppe.
     
  9. webbhead

    webbhead Member

    You're right, it couldn't have been Falaise... I'll have to check Fussell next time I'm at the library. Thanks for pointing out the oversight.
     
  10. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Dieppe appeared to be a wasted operation.It appeared to serve no purpose but it came at a time when the Russians were anxious for a second front and by the very nature of the operation,the Allies demonstrated that they were incapable of mounting anything more serious than a commando raid.I do not think the Russians thought much of it.They were looking for a real effort which would relieve them of German pressure on the Eastern Front.

    The great lesson learnt from the Dieppe raid and it has always been referred to as a "raid" was that when a real invasion was mounted it would be difficult to capture a port in a good enough condition to land men and materiel sufficient to create a bridgehead and strike hard into France. The planners went away to think about it and from a proposal by Churchill,a decision was taken in 1942 to take our own harbour.One of the best kept secrets of the war,the Mulberry Harbours.

    The real purpose of this raid has always been obscure although the people involved at the top have always praised it. At the very best it can be seen as the basis for the planning of D Day.In other words inadequate forces,lack of the right equipment and hasty improvisation which were apparent on this raid were ruled out for the big event which enfolded nearly two years later.Then with the build up of air supremacy on the day over the bridgehead, D Day was planned as not to fail.
     
  11. angie999

    angie999 Very Senior Member

    The raid was originally planned for July 1942, but was postponed due to weather.

    I think timing is important here. The British government was under tremendous pressure from the US gevernment to commit to Operation Sledgehammer, the plan to land six divisions across the Channel in 1942. Faced with British opposition, American resolve began to weaken, but on a visit to London in mid-July, General Marshall, Admiral King and Roosevelt's adviser, Harry Hopkins, were still arguing for it. The Americans only finally dropped it in an exchange of cables on 22 and 23 July in favour of an expanded Operation Gymnast, which became Operation Torch.

    I do wonder, therefore, whether it was realised that the raid was likely to fail, but it was put into effect as a demonstration to the Americans that there could be no invasion in 1942 and probably not 1943.

    Of course valuable lessons were learned, the impracticallity of an early invasion being the big one.
     
  12. webbhead

    webbhead Member

    I do wonder, therefore, whether it was realised that the raid was likely to fail, but it was put into effect as a demonstration to the Americans that there could be no invasion in 1942 and probably not 1943.

    That's a very disturbing take on the motivation for Dieppe--think of all those soldiers who died. Sadly, there might be some truth to it. My grandfather fought under Mountbatten in the east and the commander's attitude to tactics was "take the objective, no matter what the human cost." Dieppe may have been one of those cases where politics got the better of sense.
     
  13. angie999

    angie999 Very Senior Member

    Originally posted by webbhead@Dec 6 2004, 01:45 PM
    I do wonder, therefore, whether it was realised that the raid was likely to fail, but it was put into effect as a demonstration to the Americans that there could be no invasion in 1942 and probably not 1943.

    That's a very disturbing take on the motivation for Dieppe--think of all those soldiers who died. Sadly, there might be some truth to it. My grandfather fought under Mountbatten in the east and the commander's attitude to tactics was "take the objective, no matter what the human cost." Dieppe may have been one of those cases where politics got the better of sense.
    [post=29907]Quoted post[/post]

    And it has been said that after the original cancellation it might not have taken place in August had he not pushed for it. He may have had his own motive in trying to make a name for combined ops.

    After all, not everyone had a high opinion of him. Montgomery is reported to have said of him that he was a "very gallant sailor. Had three ships sunk under him. Three ships....Doesn't know how to fight a battle" (quoted in The Lonely Leader, Alistair Horne with David Montgomery, 1994). It is ironic, of course, that if it had taken place in July, Monty himself might never have ended up commanding 8th Army after the death of Gott.
     
  14. plant-pilot

    plant-pilot Senior Member

    Was the failure at Dieppe used to improve plans for the later invasion of Normandy? I'm not suggesting that it was some form of experiment, but when things go wrong on such a scale one of the few good things that can come out of the event is that the same mistakes weren't made a second time.

    With the different assault tactics employed on the British/Canadian and the American beaches, does this show that the lessons were learned by the British and the Canadians and not the Americans? Or were the differences despite the knowledge of what went wrong at Dieppe?

    PS. My thanks to Sapper for pointing out the differences in tactics on one of the D Day threads. I've done that 'Crawling up the beach on my belly prodding for mines' thing, but not under fire. You have my full respect.
     
  15. Kiwiwriter

    Kiwiwriter Very Senior Member

    Originally posted by plant-pilot@Jan 9 2005, 09:54 AM
    Was the failure at Dieppe used to improve plans for the later invasion of Normandy? I'm not suggesting that it was some form of experiment, but when things go wrong on such a scale one of the few good things that can come out of the event is that the same mistakes weren't made a second time.

    With the different assault tactics employed on the British/Canadian and the American beaches, does this show that the lessons were learned by the British and the Canadians and not the Americans? Or were the differences despite the knowledge of what went wrong at Dieppe?

    PS. My thanks to Sapper for pointing out the differences in tactics on one of the D Day threads. I've done that 'Crawling up the beach on my belly prodding for mines' thing, but not under fire. You have my full respect.
    [post=30565]Quoted post[/post]
    The Americans had a long learning curve in World War II, but Alanbrooke pointed out that they also learned and adapted quicker than other armies. Their troubles on Omaha exemplified their difficulties.
     
  16. patcam

    patcam Junior Member

    In his book"Unauthorised action" by Brian Loring Villa published in 1989,he makes a convincing case that the Dieppe Raid was undertaken by Mountbatten without the authority of the General Staff,indeed without authority from anyone.Is there any more recent evidence as to whether this was so?
     
  17. mahross

    mahross Senior Member

    I would be careful with Villa's book. He tends to have a bit of a hatchet for Moutbatten. Argueably any operation had to have some form of authorisation. The major issue with Dieppe seems to be the lack of supporting paperwork. This may well be an issue of security. Especially because Jubilee was a resurection of Rutter, and it was intending to use the same units for this operation as for Rutter. This does not neccessarily decry of the fact that no authorisation was given. A great deal of paperwork was created in its planning at the operational level. And the co-operation between the service, while open to some debate as to its effectiveness, would seem to suggest some overall direction to the operation that was at a higher level than Mountbatten. For example, Pound, the First Lord of the Admiralty, knew of the operation and was quite adament that nothing larger than a destroyer should be used in support of the operation. This seems to suggest that the details were discussed at the Chiefs of Staff level. Also in Alanbrookes diary he note the undertaking of the operation and its results while in Cairo. The tone given over to his entry seems to suggest that he was fully aware of the operation.

    Ross
     
  18. ErikH

    ErikH Senior Member

    Some photos...

    [​IMG]
    Canadian troops embarking in landing craft during training exercise before the raid on Dieppe.
    [​IMG]
    Personnel of the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps in England treating "casualties" during rehearsal in England for raid on Dieppe.
    [​IMG]
    Canadian troops disembarking from landing craft during training exercise before the raid on Dieppe.
     
  19. morse1001

    morse1001 Very Senior Member

    Nice Photos
     
  20. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor

    Good photos Erik.
     

Share This Page