Skip to comments.History Television doc sheds new light on Dieppe, 70 years after invasion
Posted on 08/18/2012 10:03:29 AM PDT by iowamark
DIEPPE, France - Dieppe has long been a word that has made Canadian war veterans swell with pride and wince with sorrow. Ron Beal didn't like the sound of the word when he first heard it spelled out 70 years ago as his regiment's top secret military target. The first three letters, he points out, spell DIE "and when we got there, that's exactly what we did."
Beals, a member of the Royal Regiment of Canada, is one of a handful of surviving war veterans who share first-person insights in the illuminating new documentary "Dieppe Uncovered." The 90-minute film premieres Sunday night at 9 p.m. ET/PT 70 years to the day of the Dieppe invasion on History Television.
Produced and directed by cinematographer Wayne Abbott ("Deep Wreck Mysteries: Unsinkable Battleship"), the film draws on 15 years of meticulous research conducted by military historian David O'Keefe to make the case that the doomed dawn raid had a purpose and a complexity that went far beyond its legacy as a military failure.
O'Keefe, who served with the Royal Highland Regiment, just never bought some of the popular beliefs about the raid. Some said it was a sop to Russian demands for a second front in Europe and to provide a testing ground for D-Day. The sacrifices paid at Dieppe over 900 Canadians killed in roughly three hours of savage bloodshed did not, in O'Keefe's estimation, justify the means.
Another 2,000 troops were captured that terrible August 19th, and many spent the next year-and-a-half shackled to one another.
O'Keefe likens his Dieppe discoveries to pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Among the revelations he made as he scanned through hundreds of declassified, ultra top secret war files in a London archive was the extent of involvement in the planning of the raid by Ian Fleming, the British espionage agent who later gained fame as the author of the James Bond spy novels.
Fleming, O'Keefe surmised, saw Dieppe as a full scale "pinch raid," an opportunity to create a tremendous diversion of troops and tanks while a top secret special force of elite commandos snuck a block or two into town and raided what had been identified as the enemy's makeshift military headquarters.
Fleming's goal was to gather valuable code intelligence at a time when complex Axis espionage machinery was thwarting Allied efforts. When O'Keefe presented his findings to the keepers of the British code break intelligence, they confirmed his discoveries and released more documents.
The suggestion that Dieppe was a diversion for intelligence gathering missions was also made in 1976 in "A man called Intrepid," the best-selling biography of Canadian spymaster William Stephenson.
This article is being written at Dieppe's charming Les Arcades hotel, a harbour inn looking out over a crowded marina and located right next door to the German headquarters Fleming was hoping his forces would raid.
The Les Arcades is festooned with the red and white maple leaf flag, as are many buildings and parkways in and around Dieppe.
"This is a town that has never forgotten what Canadians did that day," says Abbott, who, together with O'Keefe, has made many trips to the city in over a year of production on the documentary.
"You see Canadian flags here every day not just this 70th anniversary weekend."
This weekend, though, they are everywhere above stores and in the windows of restaurants, on the backs of bicycles and cars, in flowerbeds and across billboards.
Some can be spotted on the towels and bathing suits of many of the hundreds of tourists sunning themselves on stone and pebble beaches which stretch for miles along the shore of this historic, coastal French town.
The two main beachfronts were code named "Red" and "White" on the day of the invasion. Now they are celebrated with those colours as a tribute to the Canadians. Back from the beachfront, dozens of green army tents, jeeps and other artifacts from the Second World War are on display. Ceremonies are being held at the site of the Canadian and other allied soldier cemeteries in and around Dieppe.
Canada's Minister of Veteran Affairs, Steven Blaney, joined seven Canadian veterans who fought at Dieppe as they returned to the beach Friday.
"These are our heroes," declared the minister, who also praised the documentary to be shown to veterans and officials here Saturday for helping to bring closure to a pivotal chapter in Canadian military history. "We finally have a true picture of what happened that day," said Blaney.
For Ray Gilbert, making his fifth pilgrimage to Dieppe, what happened that day has never been a mystery.
The spry 90-year-old Calgarian fought the battle from inside one of the Allied forces new Churchill tanks, which he says was just not designed to handle the round stones of "White" beach.
There likely will not be too many more annual reunions for the dwindling number of valiant Canadians who fought on these shores that day. The people of this French channel port show no signs of every forgetting their effort, however. O'Keefe and Abbott hope "Dieppe Uncovered" will remind Canadians at home about a defining moment of wartime sacrifice celebrated with maple leaf pride half a world away.
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Most History Television programs are streamed from the globaltv.com website starting the day after they are broadcast. I will post a link tomorrow if this doc is available onling.
I have observed that newspaper coverage of the ETO is more detailed and timely than coverage of the PTO.
Would love to see this documentary. I’ve read quite a bit about D-day, and whatever I could find about Dieppe, which wasn’t much. In the US few people seem to know about the Canadian heroism at Dieppe, or even that a battle happened there, which is very sad.
In memory of the brave Canadians at Dieppe!
I believe the Germans erected some sort of monument to the Canadians at the time, or allowed the local French to do so?
I read a story many years ago about the Browning Hi-Power getting it’s first real combat test at Dieppe.
These were Canadian ones made by Englis. The verdict was that it performed superbly.
Dieppe is another good example of the willingness of the British to use Commonwealth troops when high casualties may be expected.
On the other hand, it’s always been my understanding that the target of the raid was the radar installation, not the local headquarters.
A surprising number of people in France, particularly the coast, including people whose grandfathers don’t even remember WWII, actually LIKE Americans and are nothing at all like the people you usually see on television.
What would your impression of the US be if you thought that all Americans are like Bloomberg and other NYC dwellers?
Walter Cronkite’s series about WWII include an episode about Dieppe.
I got to thinking about it and realized those first Brownings issued by Canada would have been made in Belgium.
When William Inglis died in 1935, the new Toronto Island Ferry was named after him in appreciation of his significant contribution to the city's industrial and cultural progress.
Two years later, an American named Major J.E. Hahn, purchased the company and made significant changes to its operations. Under Major Hahn's leadership, the company assisted in the World War II effort by manufacturing guns for the Canadian and British governments. More than 17,800 people were employed at this time creating the need for expansion at the Strachan Avenue plant.
When the war ended in 1946, the company began to manufacture consumer products for the first time. Fishing tackle, house trailers, oil burner pumps and domestic heaters and stoves were among the diverse products offered.
In the same year, John Inglis Co. Limited negotiated with Nineteen Hundred Corporation (later Whirlpool Corporation) to manufacture home laundry products. The wringer washer was introduced in 1946, and in 1950, production of the automatic washer was added. The line of appliances expanded quickly to include electric and gas dryers, and dishwashers.
By 1966, Inglis had become the leading producer of domestic laundry appliances in Canada. In 1967, a refrigerator plant was opened in Stoney Creek, Ontario near Hamilton and production of dehumidifiers was added there in 1970.
In 1972, Inglis produced its one-millionth automatic washer and began manufacturing and selling appliances under the Whirlpool brand name. A year later the company began operating under the name, Inglis Limited. During the late 1970s, Inglis Limited continued to grow by building a new warehouse and sales and service facility in Laval, Quebec; expanding its automatic washer manufacturing facility in Toronto; and producing compact washers.
This doc is from History Television, a Canadian channel not affiliated with the History Channel.
Not sure from this what you thought I was saying, but I think you have it wrong. I went to the D-Day celebrations in Normandy about 10 years ago, and it was very moving.
I spent the D-Day anniversary day at St Mere L’Eglise, where they still have a replica of the paratrooper with parachute stuck on the church spire.
When the American or British veterans came to the ceremonies, they were swarmed by French people thanking them. I treasured my chance to talk to a few of the veterans, and it was obvious the French people did as well.
Thanks! I don’t watch much TV, but I’ll try to track it down.
Actually, since Vimy Ridge the British got into the habit of giving Canadian units missions that they didn’t think their own troops could accomplish, often after they had already tried and failed. That’s why the Canadian Army was given the task of securing the Scheldt Estuary and liberating Holland; the job was assigned to them after and Anglo-American attempt was pushed back.
Interesting. I currently own two WW2 Canadian Inglis Hi-Powers. They are great guns. The only good thing came out of the Dieppe raid was what NOT to do in future invasions. Looking back at it now, we have to remember that amphibious attacks were in their infancy at that time. Mistakes and sacrifices had to be made, and lessons learned to cut casualties in bigger operations down the road. I will admit that British High Command seemed rather cavalier with the use of “colonials” during dangerous operations.
I also have an Inglis that is one of my favorite Hi-Powers. Wasn’t Dieppe the debut of the Sten gun?
Some fine, brave Soldiers.
It’s on History Sunday night.
Dieppe , besides White and Red , also had a Blue , Yellow , Orange and Green beach. Green beach was for the South Saskatchewan and the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders (from Ottawa)
There is a book called “Green Beach” by James Leasor . The story of an attempt to discover how far German Radar equipment had developed.
” A private nicknamed Red complained to Sergeant Jack Nissenthall, the man Hawkins was trying to find , that their new Sten guns might seize up in the heat of battle, because the rivets hadnt been filed down properly. When Hawkins caught up with Nissenthall, he told him that he, Hawkins, would be commanding the ten-man unit assigned to help Nissenthall steal the secrets of Freya, a German radar station near Pourville, just east of Dieppe. Neither man mentioned it, but both knew that an order unique in the annals of the Canadian military now rested on Hawkins shoulders. Nissenthall was not a Canadian soldier. He was, in fact, a twenty-two-year-old British Royal Air Force officer with top secret knowledge of the radar system that had stymied the Germans during the London Blitz. Hawkins job was to get Nissenthall, known to the Canadians of the South Saskatchewan Regiment as Spook, out of France. If for any reason Hawkins could not do so, he was instructed to kill him.”
“The whistle of one shell coming close gave Nissenthall just enough time to hit the dirt and open his mouth so the pressure wave that followed the explosion would not puncture his eardrums. Red, the Saskatchewans fretful private, was not so fortunate; a small piece of steel from an exploding shell drove through one of his eyes and into his brain, ensuring that he would never get to use his new Sten gun.”
“To reach Freya, he (Hawkins) and his men would have to make their way across a bridge already strewn with Canadian dead.
When the Saskatchewans commander, Lieutenant Colonel Cecil Merritt, saw what Hawkins saw, he ran to the bridge, calling on his men to ignore the rain of mortars and bodies and the growing pools of blood. Come on over, he shouted. They cant hit anything. Theres nothing to worry about here. This act of bravery earned him the Victoria Cross. Some 150 men, including Hawkins party, crossed the bridge but were soon held up by machine gun fire from a German pillbox. Merritt located the bunkers blind spot, crept forward, and when the machine gunner paused (probably to reload), rose and lobbed grenades through its slits. A lawyer in Vancouver before the war, he would later recommend bombing a pillbox before breakfast.”
I don’t know when the first Inglis Hi-Powers were issued to Allied troops, but the Germans had been using FN made versions since they captured the factory in 1940. The Hi-Power was one of the few guns widely used by both sides.
Yes, there is a widely distributed picture of an SS officer carrying a Browning. I think I have read that the Hi-Power was very popular with the Waffen SS.
Please click the link.
The Republic you save may be your own.
While I was a visiting professor in Turkey, I took a tour of the Gallipoli battlefield. By coincidence, I was there during ANZAC DAYS. My Turkish tour guide regaled me with tales of how the Anzacs hated the British for the way the attack was bungled. The view from the heights overlooking the invasion beach was enough to convince me that no one in his right mind would have planned a landing there.
Once you get out of high school, you should have a chance to read some real history. You might start with Gallipoli. Or Crete. Or Dieppe.
Prove your point that Britain deliberately used Commonwealth troops when high levels of casualties were expected. Simply listing battles where Commonwealth troops did a lot (or most) of the fighting doesn't prove your point. High levels of casualties were expected on D-Day, but Britain contributed troops to take 2 of the 5 beaches, and more troops for the Canadian beach. Plus a paratroop division. Same for Market Garden.
And more British soldiers died in the Gallipoli campaign than ANZAC troops.
Save your cheap smears.
"This is a town that has never forgotten what Canadians did that day," says Abbott, who, together with O'Keefe, has made many trips to the city in over a year of production on the documentary. "You see Canadian flags here every day -- not just this 70th anniversary weekend." This weekend, though, they are everywhere -- above stores and in the windows of restaurants, on the backs of bicycles and cars, in flowerbeds and across billboards. Some can be spotted on the towels and bathing suits of many of the hundreds of tourists sunning themselves on stone and pebble beaches which stretch for miles along the shore of this historic, coastal French town.
There is a little clip here . Might be more if one looks around.
That's quite true. American histories of WWII don't mention Dieppe very much, if at all. But then again, I don't imagine Canadians to be all that knowledgeable about Pearl Harbor.
The spry 90-year-old Calgarian fought the battle from inside one of the Allied forces new Churchill tanks, which he says was just not designed to handle the round stones of "White" beach.
It wasn't just the tanks named for Churchill that failed at Dieppe. Sadly, the blame for the failure of the mission has to be placed on the shoulders of Prime Minister himself, where the buck stopped in the planning of the operation. It was strictly a British Commonwealth initiative without any direct American participation.
The buck does stop at Churchill , he did appoint Lord Louis Mountbatten, who was ultimately responsible as Chief of Combined Operations. Known to his friends as Vickie, Mountbatten was vain and ambitious. It was often said that the truth, in his hands, was swiftly converted from what it was to what it should have been.
After the raid at Dieppe Mountbatten reported , lied would be a better word, to Churchill that,
The raid had gone off very satisfactorily. The planning had been excellent, air support faultless, and naval losses extremely light. Of the 6,000 men involved, two thirds returned to Britain and all I have seen are in great form.
Records show that 3,623 of the 6,086 men who made it ashore were killed, wounded or captured a loss rate of almost 60 percent.
The IRA blew Mountbatten’s boat up in 1979, Killing him.
Canadians know a lot about Pearl Harbour, generally the older generations who remember it or where taught about it back when schools actually taught history.
While Dieppe maybe relatively unknown in the US , how many in either country know of the Canadian fight for Ortona. A fight dubbed “Little Stalingrad”
Vickie, should be “Dickie”
Although Eisenhower was still in Washington working under US Chief of Staff Gen. George Marshall at the time of Dieppe, the book mentions the Dieppe raid in its summary of the war in Europe and Africa prior to Eisenhower's arrival in the Mediterranean Theater. It also mentions Mountbatten in connection with the planning for Dieppe.
According to David Eisenhower's book, citing "Bodyguard of Lies" by Anthony Cave Brown (1975), "Dieppe was first approved as Operation RUTTER on May 13, then cancelled on July 8, the day Churchill wired Roosevelt with what he thought would be accepted as the final British rejection of SLEDGEHAMMER. On July 15, [British Gen.] Dill cabled from Washington that [American Chief of Staff Gen.] Marshall had not given up the fight [for SLEDGEHAMMER] and would reopen the issue once he arrived in London. The Prime minister then revived Dieppe, now code-named JUBILEE. The second round of delibertions on the raid was kept within a narrow circle of planners and certain members of the War Cabinet. No minutes were kept of the meetings." David Eisenhower apparently includes Dieppe in his book becase Dieppe "would influence techniques and tactics chosen for the [Normandy invasion] plan presented to Eisenhower on January 17, 1944."
BTW, why would the IRA later kill Mountbatten? Did he have any connection to the goings-on in Ireland?
No, there was token American participation for propaganda purposes.
I don’t know what “Sledgehammer” was” but” Rutter” was cancelled because of the weather and the fact that once “Rutter” set sail they had been seen by the Germans and surprise was lost. Mountbatten was a Grandson of Queen Victoria who reasoned and stated so that the Germans knew about “Rutter” and that they would not expect that someone would be so stupid to attack in the same place at a later date. “Rutter” was renamed “Jubilee” and went ahead . Montgomery and Roberts(commander of the Canadian 2nd division) both objected but Mountbatten pushed ahead anyway without getting the required authorization from the joint chiefs of staff.
Mountbatten had an estate in Ireland and he chose to ignore security advice not to sail his boat . He did anyway , the IRA had planted a bomb on board and his death brought attention to the IRA cause.
His titles etc , as if some how his poo isn’t poo ,
Admiral of the Fleet The Right Honourable The Earl Mountbatten of Burma, KG, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, DSO, PC
According to David Eisenhower's glossary, SLEDGEHAMMER was a "Contingency plan for a cross-Channel invasion of Europe in the fall of 1942 in the event that the threatened collapse of Russia made it necessary to open a diversionary front in Western Europe."
I see that you're a Canadian and a WWII history buff. So, just out of curiosity, can you please summarize the role of Canadian units in WWII? I know that your First Army played significant part in the invasion of Normandy and then continued eastward and northward into the Netherlands and Germany until the time of the German surrender, on the northern flank of the Allied advance. I'd assume that Canadians might have been on the Italian front as well. Any other geographic locations?
I can give you some basic, the rest is on line.
Personally , my Father , a radio man , was in the 5th Division , in Italy and Europe . Ten days after he came home he turned 20 . I had an Uncle who landed on Juno beach and who received grievous injury , his face was blown off , while fighting in the Scheldt of Holland . He survived and became a post master in a small Ontario village . Another Uncle who was at Ortona and another who flew the North Atlantic looking for U boats. Another Uncle served for 2 years on one of the original 6 destroyers , another died with the rest of his Lancaster crew in 1943 . He was 22 and had been drafted by the Detroit Red Wings but chose to join the RCAF instead .
The Canadian army of WW1 sent 400,000 overseas , the population of Canada was about 7 million .
By 1939 the Canadian army was 4500 strong , the RCN had 6 destroyers and 1800 sailors, the RCAF about 3100 and a lot of the equipment was dated 1918 .
In 1939 the Canadian population was about 11 million , by 1945 1,086,000 had served full time in the Canadian military.
The Canadian Army, it was never called Royal , was made up of 5 divisions . (The following is from The History of the Canadian Army)
“During this war Canadian soldiers fought the Japanese in Asia and the Germans and Italians in Africa; they sailed to the Arctic archipelago of Spitsbergen and to the fog-bound Aleutians; they did duty in Iceland, the Antilles and South America; they helped to extend the defences of Gibraltar.
They were among the foremost of the defenders of the United Kingdom when it was the last citadel of European freedom. They bore the brunt of the largest and most significant of the Allies raids against Europes coast in the days when the enemy controlled it from the North Cape to the Pyrenees. Above all, they played their part, and that no small one, in two great campaigns: they fought for twenty arduous months in Italy, and were in the front of the fight in the last mighty struggle in North-West Europe from the Norman beaches to Luneburg Heath. They left a trail of triumphs behind them, and did honour to their country wherever they set the print of their hobnailed boots.
The Army that did these things is already little more than more than a memory. Many thousands of those who made its reputation sleep in alien ground; and of the survivors the vast majority have returned to civilian pursuits and are scattered about the country and the world. “
Perhaps this would be of interest , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_history_of_Canada_during_World_War_II
Thanks to Sunken Civ for the heads up.
Here’s hoping this great story will be shown on American TV or be made available on DVD soon.
We cannot forget!
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