Attack on Dieppe
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseLord Louis Mountbatten, Chief of Combined Operations, wanted to finally strike continental Europe and perhaps even cause Germany to reinforce the French coast with troops destined for the Eastern Front, therefore alleviating pressure off of the Soviet troops. The Operation Jubilee, as the plan was code named, called for a landing at Dieppe on the French coast, hold beach head for 12 hours while commando units attacked a nearby German HQ and bring back German officers for interrogation, and then the entire force would retreat back to England.
ww2dbaseOn 18 Aug 1942, 237 ships left various ports in Britain for the Dieppe area, including eight destroyers but no battleships (the Admiralty did not wish to risk losing any heavy ships). The convoy carried 5,000 Canadian, 1,000 British, and 50 American troops; it was escorted by 74 squadrons of aircraft. A stroke a bad luck brought the Allied fleet in the path of a German convoy; the convoy was quickly driven off, but German defenses were alerted. 80% of the Allied fleet would be destroyed by the alerted German coastal defenses. Only a few commandos reached their landing spots on 19 Aug, but they were able to improvise their plans; instead of destroying the coastal artillery, they managed to kill many of the gun crews by sniper fire and disabled the artillery nevertheless. The Canadian landing at Puys failed completely, the well-placed German forces drove off the Canadian landing, killing roughly half the landing force (225) and captured the other half (264), allowing only 33 to escape back to England. At Pourville, Canadian and British troops made their landing, but was quickly driven back to the sea by fierce German defenses after losing 141 men. As for the main assault, some of the landing forces were held at the beach by heavy fire, while some of the tanks either did not make it to the shore or were disabled by anti-tank traps. The reserve forces were also committed too early due to communications problems.
ww2dbaseIn all, the operation met with failure due to a number of reasons. However, if the 1,027 men lost (900 of whom were Canadian) and 2,340 captured (again, with a bulk being Canadian) had achieved one objective, it was giving Allied command a valuable, if costly, lesson on amphibious operations. Mountbatten himself said that "for every soldier who died at Dieppe, ten were saved on D-Day". While this statement may have been out of Mountbatten's attempt to save his credibility, it indeed had given the United States the valuable lesson of the difficulty of assaulting a defended port. This experience might have directly influenced General Eisenhower's decision to strike at the beaches at Normandy instead of the nearby port city of Cherbourg (among other targets).
ww2dbaseSource: the Second World War, Wikipedia.
Last Major Update: Jul 2005
Attack on Dieppe Interactive Map
Attack on Dieppe Timeline
|13 May 1942||The British Chiefs of Staff approved a major raid against the French port of Dieppe.|
|11 Jun 1942||Troops of the 2nd Canadian Division conducted practice for the raid on Dieppe.|
|1 Jul 1942||General Montgomery informed General Paget that Operation Rutter, the attack on Dieppe, was to take place on 4 Jul.|
|4 Jul 1942||The raid on Dieppe was postponed due to weather.|
|7 Jul 1942||Weather caused further postponement of Dieppe raid.|
|19 Aug 1942||5,000 Canadian troops, 1,000 British Commandos, 50 US Rangers, and 58 British Churchill tanks landed at Dieppe, France at 0500 hours in Operation Jubilee via 9 landing ships, covered by 8 destroyers, many smaller warships, and many aircraft. British and Americans were successful in destroying a German battery near Varengeville, but British and Canadian troops on a nearby beach were pinned down, suffering 1,179 killed before the mission's end. As German aircraft counterattacked, British destroyer HMS Berkeley and several smaller ships were sunk. The operation was called off by 1100 hours in dismal failure. 2,190 Allied troops were captured along with all of the tanks and heavy equipment. The British RAF lost 106 aircraft. The Germans suffered only 311 killed and 48 aircraft shot down in the defense.|
|8 Oct 1942||A Nazi radio announcement stated that from mid-day (German time) officers and men captured at Dieppe, France had been manacled as a retaliation for the alleged tying of prisoners during a small-scale raid on Sark on 3 October 1942. The British War Office replied that German prisoners brought back from Dieppe had not had their hands tied and had been treaty humanely. It was further threatened that unless the Germans immediately unshackle their captives, then German prisoners of war in Canada would be put into chains from noon 10 October 1942.|
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James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945