Winter 1941/1942: Russian troops sustained serious losses. Stalin then asked the Allies to open a second front in the west, hoping to force the Germans to withdraw several divisions from the Eastern Front.
However, at that time the Allies were not prepared to invade Europe, in spite of the Japanese attack on the American base at Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941 which incited the United States to join the war effort. While waiting for the cumbersome Russian war machine to become efficient, Churchill, who had in the meantime created a new division christened “commandos”, meaning “combined operations units”, suggested a sort of trial landing in a French harbor, aiming to weaken German military defense lines while collecting intelligence and taking prisoners for interrogation.
Previously, some similar “commando” operations had been successful, such as in the Loften Islands of Norway, as well as in St Nazaire and Bruneval in France. Unfortunately, the operation carried out on the Island of Guernsey was not.
Still, thanks to those operations, the Allies hoped that a raid of a similar scale would be feasible, while dissuading Stalin from his goal of distracting the German with a Western Front, or that at the best such an attack would be premature.
Dieppe was chosen for its deep water harbor, wide beach and easily accessible geography, being close enough to England to facilitate a coordinated air and sea attack.
Originally, 13000 troops were to participate. In the end only 6000 soldiers, of which 5000 Canadians who’d been impatiently training in England for some time, waiting to see action, took part. The operation consisted of some 250 units of various sizes, including 864 aircraft and around 50 tanks.
The raid was spread across 5 different sites, along 16 kilometers of seafront: from Berneval, to the east of Dieppe to Quiberville-sur-Mer to the west of Dieppe.
During 9 hours of fighting, the Allies sustained heavy losses, especially when retreating to join the struggling landing craft.
- 1197 soldiers killed and nearly 2000 were taken prisoner.
- 34 ships were lost including one destroyer.
- 106 airplanes were lost.
- 28 tanks were destroyed, the second wave having become stuck on the beach
- 48 civilians from the local Dieppe population were killed
- 913 of the Canadian soldiers were killed, including 6 pilots, an overall tragedy, and particularly at the Puys beach (Blue beach) landing site, just east of Dieppe.
On September 8th, 1942, Winston Churchill was quoted as referring to the Raid on Dieppe as an event which permitted a large harvest of information which would be of great importance to future raids of this type. (taken from a book published in 2008 and written by Bernard Dupuy)
After much deliberation amongst the Allied military staff leaders regarding the method of deployment and after two aborted plans: “Yukon” slated for June and the “Reuter” planned for July 12th, a final decision was made and “Operation Jubilee” was to take place on August 19th, in accordance with the tides on that day.
|Manoeuvre avec un LCA||Pause after "Yukon"|
Despite many mistakes, a noticeable lack of preparedness, and sore lack of information concerning the German infrastructure, the Allied armada landed on the Dieppe coast by the end of the night. This, unfortunately without the benefit of surprise, since German gunships patrolling the channel ran across the fleet en route to Dieppe, and an altercation between the two sides took place around 3:45 am.