05 The Dieppe Raid, 1942

In this episode of the WW2 Podcast I talk to Mark Zuehlke about Operation Jubilee the ill-fated raid on Dieppe in 1942.

In August of 1942 a force of 6,000, predominantly Canadians, including the Calgary Tank Regiment, mounted a Raid on the French port of Dieppe, now occupied by the Germans.

This would be the largest allied raid yet launched.

Tragedy at Dieppe: Operation Jubilee, August 19, 1942
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With its trademark "you are there" style, Mark Zuehlke's tenth Canadian Battle Series volume tells the story of the 1942 Dieppe raid. Nicknamed "The Poor Man's Monte Carlo," Dieppe had no strategic importance, but with the Soviet Union thrown on the ropes by German invasion and America having just entered the war, Britain was under intense pressure to launch a major cross-Channel attack against France.

Since 1939, Canadian troops had massed in Britain and trained for the inevitable day of the mass invasion of Europe that would finally occur in 1944. But the Canadian public and many politicians were impatient to see Canadian soldiers fight sooner.

The first major rehearsal proved such a shambles the raid was pushed back to the end of July only to be cancelled by poor weather. Later, in a decision still shrouded in controversy, the operation was reborn. Dieppe however did not go smoothly.

Drawing on rare archival documents and personal interviews, Mark Zuehlke examines how the raid came to be and why it went so tragically wrong. Ultimately, Tragedy at Dieppe honors the bravery and sacrifice of those who fought and died that fateful day on the beaches of Dieppe.

Almost all the objectives of the main raid failed to be met. Most of those troops who made it ashore struggled to get off the beach, and for hours were pinned down under withering fire.

At the same time the Royal Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force mounted a huge operation to provide the troops on shore and the fleet, support and cover for the duration of the Raid.

Casualties were high for the Allies, the mission judged a failure, yet it has since been justified as a vital precursor with lessons been learnt for D-Day, in 1944.

 

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