What is the importance of the Dieppe raid to Canadians?
The raid on the coast of France at the town of Dieppe, in August of 1942, was the first time that the Canadians fought directly against the Nazis, on land. They had been active in the air, with many RCAF victories by fighter planes and massive bombing raids by number 6 heavy bomber group, flying from their bases in Yorkshire. The raid was NOT intended to be "The Invasion of Europe". It was planned to be a test. A test of methods, equipment and tactics. It was a failure, due to anumber of factors, not the least of which was the breakdown of operational security due to a number of changes and re-scheduling of the date of the raid. When it did take place, the amount of air cover was severly reduced as was the naval gunfire , and the landing took place in full daylight, rather than in full darkness. This meant the troops were completely exposed to the defender's gunfire and they suffered heavy casualties on the beach. The tanks could not get over the seawall and were trapped on the beach ,too. Of the about 5,000 Canadians who took part in the raid, only about 1600 got back to England. The rest were either killed or taken prisoner. Entire units were wiped out that day, dead or on the way to a POW camp. The after action briefings confirmed that this was NOT the way to launch a successfull invasion and the "lessons learned " at Dieppe, were applied to the Normandy landings two years later, with much more success. At home, in Canada, there was great sorrow that so many young guys had died, apparantly for very little gain.