‘The Battle of Normandy was won on the beaches of Dieppe’, said Admiral Mountbatten. Churchill went on to claim that the contribution of the Canadians at Dieppe was of great significance towards ‘final victory’. These are words of gratitude no doubt, but an insufficient homage to the countless Canadian lives lost at Dieppe. War historians have often criticized Dieppe landings as one of worst military moves made by the Allies during World War II. Here’s why:
• Operation Rutter aimed at Dieppe was earlier abandoned:
There was pressure on the British to mount an attack on the western front to help ease pressure on the Red Army, which was fighting Germans on the eastern front. The Allied Forces wanted to test their own ability, to conduct amphibious attacks (especially after the disaster at Gallipoli) and destroy enemy coastal defenses. The initial plan codenamed Operation Rutter, was scheduled to take off on July 1942. Troops even boarded for Dieppe on the 7th of July. But bad weather and raids forced the Canadians at Dieppe to return bitterly disappointed. By now, almost everyone knew about the proposed landings. Common sense would have suggested that it would be foolhardy decision to repeat the raid, and that too at the same destination! But the British and Canadian army thought otherwise- they were of the idea that the Germans would hardly expect troops to strike the same place again.
• Dieppe is one of the worst places to do an amphibious landing:
Dale Dunlop of The Maritime Explorer, in his article, explains how Dieppe is a ‘shingle beach’, made up of ‘small pebbles’. The shoreline offers little to no traction for any type of vehicle, he says. Even the Churchill tanks that later managed to land onshore were limited in movement thanks to these pebbles. Of course, this was a lesson for the Allied Forces to design tanks better equipped to overcome obstacles, but at the cost of thousands of Canadians at Dieppe who were killed, injured and taken as prisoners.
• Dieppe was one of the best places to defend:
It is hard to believe that Dieppe was chosen for assault, considering the fact that hundreds of British tourists visited the beaches every week before the war. Wouldn’t they know of the huge cliffs that bordered the shorelines of Dieppe? And did it not occur to them that these cliffs could be the perfect gun-nest for Germans who would be waiting for the assault troops- especially after Operation Rutter?
Author Bio : The Author researches military history, especially events related to the Second World War and the involvement of Canadians at Dieppe.