In the spring of 1942, the military situation of the allies was still fragile, despite the Americans entering the war. Japan dominated the Pacific, German forces deeply penetrated USSR. The British Army had to withdraw to Egypt and Europe remained Nazi.
The invasion of Europe could not be attempted at this time. Nevertheless, it was decided to mount an important operation at the port of Dieppe. This was done in order to make the Germans fear an attack on the western front and force them to reinforce their defenses on the Channel. This would relieve the Soviet army.
Despite the various inconveniences (cliffs, pebbles,…), the Allies chose Dieppe because of the size of Dieppe and its suburbs and the distance from England (air cover). The aim of this operation was to gain experience in how to take over a well defended port.
At dawn, on 19th August 1942, 6100 men, of which 5000 Canadians, British Commandoes and soldiers of the occupied countries, readied themselves for a debarkation a
t 8 points along the coast between Berneval-le-Grand and Sainte-Marguerite-sur-Mer. The code name of this landing was Jubilee Operation. The attack was carried out by the Royal Marines and the allied squadrons. The plan was to deploy landings at 5 different places along the coast, over a distance of about 16 km. 4 lateral attacks
were to commence at dawn: Varengeville - Orange Beach 1 and 2, Bernéval – Yellow Beach 1 and 2, Puys – Blue Beach, Pourville – Green Beach.
The frontal attack took place in Dieppe – Red Beach and White Beach. After the eight destroyers fired their canons, the units disembarked on the Dieppe beach. They were rooted to the beach, caught between a deadly cross-fire. At the same time, the Royal Air Force Squadrons and the Churchill tanks of the Calgary Regiment had the mission of shooting the German defenses. But a navigational delay and the cross-fires, stopped the tanks from backing the Infantry.
The tanks could not enter the town of Dieppe. Some soldiers of the Essex Scottish, who had landed on the East side of the beach tried to make their way into the town, through all the obstacles and barbed wires. Some of them succeed in taking over the Casino and penetrate the town. Unfortunately, they were either killed or taken prisoner.
A single English commando neutralized the battery at Varengeville-sur-Mer. At every beach the Canadians suffered heavy losses and had to re-embark, leaving behind all their material but especially 3000 men, dead or taken prisoner.
Two years later, in memory of the tragic events of the raid which cost several Canadians their lives, the 2nd Canadian Division was given the honour of liberating Dieppe on September 1st 1944.