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Subject: Dieppe - 70 Years Later rss

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Jon
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Sorry for posting again so soon. Especially with a link thread. However, this one is important to me and I did not realize the anniversary was upon us.

Seventy years ago today the ill-fated Dieppe raid took place. It was a military disaster as most of us know. Over the years folks have come up with a series of justifications for it and whatnot, but I think it is a lesson of the effects of atrocious planning and poor leadership.

There was commemoration there today with some of the surviving Canadian veterans present.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2012/08/18/dieppe-macmill...

When I was a boy of about 8 or 9 years old I too went there with my parents. All that I remember was standing on the cliffs overlooking (and enfilading) the landing beach and thinking that it was a stupid place to come ashore. Sigh...

Michael has a great picture of himself standing on the beach near the seawall .... MD, can you share that again with us please if you see this? Thanks.
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Brett W
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Thank you for highlighting the anniversary.
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Michael Dorosh
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Here is the thread:

http://boardgamegeek.com/article/8486762

And the photos of BLUE BEACH at Puys, then and in 2010:





BLUE BEACH was one of the beaches flanking the main beach. The idea was that Toronto's Royal Regiment of Canada (with a company of Black Watch attached) would go up the cliffs and knock out batteries firing down from the headland onto RED and WHITE BEACH.



The Germans defended BLUE BEACH with just two platoons and effectively wiped out an entire battalion due to the layout - the house in the photo, up on the hill, had an MG bunker in front of it, which has now been turned into a memorial. As I understand it, at no time during the battle did the Germans feel the need to reinforce the position.

Amazingly, the Canadians on BLUE BEACH managed to get a group up the cliff in the face of heavy fire, including their C.O., Doug Catto. They surrendered later in the day after being cut off and unable to withdraw.

And if you pull out, this is the area of the beach today. The house is the white one on the crest of the slope.


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Jon
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Thanks Michael. That was the one I was thinking of.

According to this little map I found:

http://www.cbc.ca/hamilton/ftp/interactives/dieppe/

... the picture from 1942 at Puys would make those troops from the RCR as well, which jives with your notes.
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Michael Dorosh
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Capt_S wrote:
Thanks Michael. That was the one I was thinking of.

According to this little map I found:

http://www.cbc.ca/hamilton/ftp/interactives/dieppe/

... the picture from 1942 at Puys would make those troops from the RCR as well, which jives with your notes.


RCR was in the 1st Division. R Regt of Canada was the unit at Dieppe - it's a common mistake, compounded by the fact the two regiments had such similar names.

The Royal Canadian Regiment is Canada's senior regular infantry regiment.

The Royal Regiment of Canada is a militia unit from Toronto.



The Royal Regiment of Canada was an amalgamaton of the Toronto Regiment and the Royal Grenadiers, hence the odd name - and as a point of trivia, the same Doug Catto that was captured at Dieppe was the one that designed the regiment's cap badge when the amalgamation happened just before the start of the war.
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Jon
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I did not know that! Thanks for the clarification. I saw "Royal Regiment of Canada" and interpreted it as "RCR" in my mind.

I was at the Military Museum here in Calgary last week, but did not notice any nods towards the anniversary. I suppose since there was not a regiment from the area involved (I believe). Looking over some of the online posts it seems that Hamilton takes a keen interest in remembering the raid though.
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Bill Eldard
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Capt_S wrote:
Seventy years ago today the ill-fated Dieppe raid took place. It was a military disaster as most of us know. Over the years folks have come up with a series of justifications for it and whatnot, but I think it is a lesson of the effects of atrocious planning and poor leadership.


I think the hubris of Churchill and Mountabatten overode basic military logic.

By the time of Dieppe, with the idea of postponing a cross-channel invasion to 1944, Churchill had become very fond of coastal raiding as a means of keeping the Germans off-balance in the west, forcing Hitler to commit extra forces to deter raids. Churchill referred to them as "B and B's" for "butcher and bolt" -- land, kill many Germans and destroy as much as you can in the allotted period of time, and withdraw.

Though very costly in terms of men lost, the successful St. Nazaire raid fed the hubris.

Mountbatten was an aristocrat who had been rapidly promoted to Vice Admiral following the sinking of his destroyer, HMS Kelly, during the Crete operation, 1941. He was unfortunately placed in charge of these 'special operations,' and together with Churchill, they thought the Dieppe raid would be a jolly good show. Land, seize a small port, and withdraw.

Not only was the operation poorly conceived, but the intelligence on the beach itself -- mainly gleaned from aerial photos, pre-war travel brochures, and snapshots from folks on holiday -- was pathetic.

Canadian polticians, eager to get England-based Canadian army troops into combat, were enthusiastic about the commitment of the Canadian 2d Division to the operation (along with various British commando and airborne units). They misguidely trusted the judgment Churchill and Mountbatten.

Following the fiasco, Mountbatten should have been retired, but instead, they banished him to the Allied command in SE Asia.

The Canadians, Brits, and a handful of American Rangers who landed on Dieppe weren't as fortunate.
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Jon
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Thanks Bill.

I just Wiki'ed the raid and it seems that Canada alone lost 3300+. In one day! For what?? Ugh!

shake



Actually one thing that I have found particularly infuriating is the lack of mobility of the tanks on the beach. As I remember it, the stones caught up in the tracks and really impacted the movement of several of them.


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Bill Eldard
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Capt_S wrote:
Thanks Bill.

I just Wiki'ed the raid and it seems that Canada alone lost 3300+. In one day! For what?? Ugh!

shake

Actually one thing that I have found particularly infuriating is the lack of mobility of the tanks on the beach. As I remember it, the stones caught up in the tracks and really impacted the movement of several of them.


There was also the issue of the sea wall. The tank crews discovered that they were too steep for the tanks to climb, so they ranged up and down the beach looking for an exit, which also increased their vulnerability.

An often overlooked aspect of Dieppe was the air battle that raged over the landing area and the Channel. I believe the RAF lost over 100 aircraft.
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Joeseph McCarthy
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No matter how I turn the Dieppe "Raid" up, down, or sideways, it makes absolutely no sense at all. As a raid, it was worse than useless (there were many far more lucrative areas along the French coast). Wreck and Ruin raids work best hitting lightly defended areas so that the enemy will be forced to defend more area. There was too much "infrastructure" (tanks, landing craft, that sort of stuff) for a raid, but too little for an invasion. It was ghastly planning with poor organization, no visible goal, and insufficient assets to accomplish any goal that may have been thought up on the fly. In the musical score of the war, Dieppe was like inserting a chorus of Abba's "Dancing Queen" in a random location in the middle of Shostokovich's Leningrad Symphony.

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Greg S
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I think a large number of people forget the contribution of Canada to the war, and that is something that should be corrected.

Of course, in today's society, large numbers of people are ingorant of ANY events in WW2.

I've always had an affinity for the Canadians in the war; they're so close to us (obviously), but fought with the British forces. A real amalgam of North American and European sensibilities.

I had the pleasure of cross-training with some Canadian Army Engineers while I was with the 7th Engineers, 5th ID stationed at Ft. Polk, La. A great bunch of guys, and I was COMPLETELY jealous of the fact that they got to wear berets!!

Thanks for the photos and the posting.
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Joe Donnelly
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There is some misunderstanding about the tanks at Dieppe. Air photos taken after the battle showed them all on the beach, and it was assumed that they'd been unable to leave it.

In fact some of the tanks got over the seawall and onto the esplanade, but were then stopped by roadblocks built along the edge of the town. Engineers tasked to destroy these obstacles were unable to reach them. The well armoured Churchills, impervious to the German guns available at Dieppe, moved about at will within the confines of the esplanade, but eventually returned to the beach to try to protect the infantry.

One of the infantry survivors, interviewed afterward for an historical report, intriguingly reports seeing a Churchill moving down one of the roads inside the town. Had this tank found a route that might have been exploited by others, or was this soldier lacking in AFV recognition skills? So many mysteries are attached to that terrible day.
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Michael Dorosh
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Mogadeet wrote:
No matter how I turn the Dieppe "Raid" up, down, or sideways, it makes absolutely no sense at all. As a raid, it was worse than useless (there were many far more lucrative areas along the French coast).


There is greater subtext to the raid than that; some have suggested it was designed to convince the Russians to stop publicly pressing for a Second Front Now. Others have pointed out the "secret mission" aspects of the raid and that the military objectives were built around it (i.e. radar secrets at Green Beach, and a radar expert landed with an escort with orders to kill him if capture was imminent lest he fall into enemy hands - a Hollywood screen writer couldn't make up a better story).

Brian Loring-Villa has gone so far as to suggest that to some of these ends, it is possible that news of the raid was even deliberately leaked to the Germans. But wait! you say. There is no evidence that the Germans were forewarned. Loring-Villa counters by saying sure, if you were the German commander, and knew a Canadian force was coming in for a two-tide operation, and wanted to test your garrison's ability to defeat a major landing - wouldn't it make sense not to alert your garrison before hand, and see how well they responded?

Not saying I buy into it all, but there is compelling reading in the many conspiracy theories.

And as you say - something at the heart of it may not add up. Although honestly, the original draft plan, RUTTER, made much more sense. If you look at the entire timeline, it becomes clearer. By the time JUBILEE went off, much of the good stuff was gone - heavy offshore bombardment, paratroopers, tank landings on the flanks. The final plan relied on surprise, and a bombardment by a few Hurricanes and Boston bombers strafing the beach.

Also remember that another goal of the day was to draw the Luftwaffe up into an air battle, and that goal was achieved.
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Michael Dorosh
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Capt_S wrote:


Actually one thing that I have found particularly infuriating is the lack of mobility of the tanks on the beach. As I remember it, the stones caught up in the tracks and really impacted the movement of several of them.



The chert beach had been studied in detail before the raid, and buildup of stones did indeed break some tracks, but some drivers adapted and were able to keep their vehicles functioning.

As alluded to above, the greatest problem was that engineers assigned to blow obstacles off the beach - there were limited numbers of exits - were killed early in the landing. There are photos of universal carriers and jeeps with engineer equipment still lashed to them. The crossfire was devastating.

Not a single Churchill was penetrated by enemy fire during the raid; the largest German weapon present were 5.0cm anti-tank guns. The 14th CTR crews remained at their posts and fired off all available ammunition in order to cover the infantry, and in so doing, many were unable to be withdrawn, and they were stranded on the beach.

After the Battle published an excellent reference on the raid, DIEPPE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GERMAN WAR PHOTOGRAPHER which is based on a PhD dissertation by Hugh Henry.

Quote:
The 14th Canadian Army Tank Regiment was one of the first Canadian armoured regiments to be formed and was also the first to be committed to battle. The action of every one of the regiment's tanks that landed at Dieppe is described in detail by Hugh G. Henry Jr who has spent several years on his research and interviewed all the regiment's survivors. Every Churchill tank and armoured car left behind on the beach is pictured, selected from photographic coverage of the time. In addition, annotated aerial photographs by Jean Paul Pallud pinpoint and identify the position of every vehicle and full crew lists are given for each. The result is a uniquely illustrated "after-action" report of Canada's worst military defeat.


I have a copy of the PhD dissertation as well, and it is equally interesting.
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Michael Dorosh
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Capt_S wrote:
I did not know that! Thanks for the clarification. I saw "Royal Regiment of Canada" and interpreted it as "RCR" in my mind.

I was at the Military Museum here in Calgary last week, but did not notice any nods towards the anniversary. I suppose since there was not a regiment from the area involved (I believe). Looking over some of the online posts it seems that Hamilton takes a keen interest in remembering the raid though.


The King's Own Calgary Regiment was at that time the 14th Canadian Tank Regiment (aka Calgary Tanks) - they do have a Dieppe section in their gallery. Worth a look, but odd the museum didn't have anything on for the anniversary.

And yes, the confusion over the regimental names was disturbing, especially at the time. Strome Galloway, the famous author who served in the RCR, wrote about it in one of his autobiographies. There were lots of worried spouses and mothers writing and sending telegrams to the UK, I believe, when news of the Royal Regiment of Canada's exploits became public. He had some of his usual pithy comments about the similarity of the two names.
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Joe Donnelly
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BTW, there is to be a TV show tonight on the History Channel (Canada) wherein some fellow argues that the whole Dieppe raid was a cover for a top-secret-never-before-revealed commando operation. The idea, he says, was to pinch German communications code materials and/or equipment. At least, that's the synopsis given on CBC radio a couple of days ago.
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Bill Eldard
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Sunray11 wrote:
BTW, there is to be a TV show tonight on the History Channel (Canada) wherein some fellow argues that the whole Dieppe raid was a cover for a top-secret-never-before-revealed commando operation. The idea, he says, was to pinch German communications code materials and/or equipment. At least, that's the synopsis given on CBC radio a couple of days ago.


Hmmm. I'd be curious to learn just what the German equipment/codes were to warrant this level of effort, costing thousands of men, 20+ tanks, a destroyer, and a hundred RAF aircraft.

Are you going to watch it?
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Steve Bishop
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I watched an interesting programme about this raid tonight http://uktv.co.uk/yesterday/episode/listing_id/166516295/cha...

The evidence presented here suggests the Raids purpose was to gain intelligence on the new 4-wheel enigma machines. The overall raid was the cover for a 'pinch' raid on the German naval HQ situated in the town.

Unfortunately the raid failed to achieve this goal also.
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Bill Eldard
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bishuk wrote:
I watched an interesting programme about this raid tonight http://uktv.co.uk/yesterday/episode/listing_id/166516295/cha...

The evidence presented here suggests the Raids purpose was to gain intelligence on the new 4-wheel enigma machines. The overall raid was the cover for a 'pinch' raid on the German naval HQ situated in the town.

Unfortunately the raid failed to achieve this goal also.


Thanks, Steve. If it is true, it lends even more credence to the crazy thinking in the minds of Churchill and Mountbatten. They obviously didn't anticipate Operation Julibee going totally wrong, but therein certainly lies the flaws in their risk assessment.

Was the Canadian commander informed that his effort was to serve as a distraction to enable the pinch? I assume that he wasn't senior enough to be read-in to ULTRA. They might have told him that a pinch would be made, but not what the object(s) was.
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Steve Bishop
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More here http://thechronicleherald.ca/artslife/128001-tv-doc-sheds-ne...

and here

http://www.globallethbridge.com/feature/6442694158/story.htm...

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Sunray11 wrote:
So many mysteries are attached to that terrible day.


I remember first learning about the Dieppe invasion as a kid from a Reader's Digest book called Strange Stories, Amazing Facts. It had lots of supposedly inexplicable ghost stories in it, and one of these was about some people living near the beach and supposedly hearing ghost sounds that could somehow be determined to exactly correspond to the historical chronology of events, right down to details that supposedly weren't public knowledge. I scared myself half to death every time I opened that book and in fact just thinking about it now gives me the shivers. (This post has been brought to you by people with nothing intelligent to say about Dieppe and wargames. Arrghh, ghosts!)
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Brian Train
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I used Hugh Henry's PhD dissertation as a major source in my article on Dieppe that appeared in Strategy & Tactics #265 which featured John Butterfield's solo game Operation Jubilee: Dieppe, August 1942. Hugh Henry also had a good article on the Calgary Regiment at Dieppe that ran in the magazine Canadian Military History (vol 204, no. 201). I also found a good analysis of the planning of Dieppe (which was the focus of my article, not a narrative of what happened) by James Goodman (Goodman, James. “Operation Jubilee: the Allied Raid on Europe 1942 – A Historical Analysis of a Planning Failure” Thesis for Master of Military Studies, US Marine Corps Command and Staff College, dated 6 March 2008.)

Anyway, consipiracy theories (which I find rather silly) aside, things could hardly have gone worse, for very good reasons.

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Jon
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I watched most of the show in question last night (missed the beginning). Despite the annoying directing style and my suspicions of most "shocking new facts revealed" approaches, I did not mind it.

As mentioned, the premise of the show was that the raid was to cover a pinch of the 4-wheel enigma and corresponding code books. As it went on I began to ask myself whether the raid begat the pinch or vica versa? Well, the show's producers believe that the pinch was the top goal or at least an important one amongst others. The problem was that the those planning or approving it (Churchill et al) did not envision the troops involved in the raid would be at such a risk as they ultimately where.

So then we are back to the initial problem of it being poorly planned and led. At least I feel that. Pinch or not.

Oh... and I think the folks knowledgeable about the pinch were few in numbers. Naval intelligence officers, the small section of commandos tasked with it and the overall commander for the raid.
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Bill Eldard
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Capt_S wrote:
I watched most of the show in question last night (missed the beginning). Despite the annoying directing style and my suspicions of most "shocking new facts revealed" approaches, I did not mind it.

As mentioned, the premise of the show was that the raid was to cover a pinch of the 4-wheel enigma and corresponding code books. As it went on I began to ask myself whether the raid begat the pinch or vica versa? Well, the show's producers believe that the pinch was the top goal or at least an important one amongst others. The problem was that the those planning or approving it (Churchill et al) did not envision the troops involved in the raid would be at such a risk as they ultimately where.

So then we are back to the initial problem of it being poorly planned and led. At least I feel that. Pinch or not.

Oh... and I think the folks knowledgeable about the pinch were few in numbers. Naval intelligence officers, the small section of commandos tasked with it and the overall commander for the raid.


Thanks for the report on the show, Jon.

As intelligent as Churchill was, he was given to occasional excursions from common sense, according to those who observed him close. I think Operation Jubliee was one of those things that once he got excited about it, nothing could dissuade him from seeing it through.

I've found it interesting that in the '70s and '80s, there were a number of films and made-for-TV productions by Canadians and Australians dramatizing the plight of their soldiers while under incompetent British commanders.

For the Australians, it was Breaker Morant, Gallipoli, The Light Horsemen, and ANZACS: The War Down Under.

For the Canadians, there was one on Dieppe, and another I recall about a RCN corvette on North Atlantic convoy duty.


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Jon
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That is interesting Bill. I have noticed that approach in Australian films, but not so much in Canadian ones. Mind you ... I have not seen that many Canadian films oddly enough. LOL! I suspect that it has something to do with nationalism in a post-colonial time.

I wonder, should we find ourselves in another big war, whether Canadian troops would find themselves as a sort of adjunct to the British effort again or rather would they be just as easily fobbed onto an American unit? Or even make up some multinational NATO-type Army/Corps? Not as a result of our WW2 experiences which were generally quite positive, but rather as a reflection of our changing role/outlook in today's world. Does anyone know how the Canadian military was set up to function in West Germany in the 80s? Mind you that was 30 years ago ...

Actually, I rather like Churchill. I think he would have been great to have over for dinner (note: serve plenty of champagne). Like you though I do feel he had some ideas that got him excited and upon which he would fixate. I read a very interesting bio on him by Roy Jenkins some time back.
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