This book is based on the official Battle Summary No 33, providing an accurate report of the landings and the progress of the battle. The typical treatment since 1945 has been to describe the Dieppe Landings as an unmitigated disaster but this account places the landings and subsequent battle in its true perspective – Most Highly Recommended.
By August 1942, the first signs of eventual Allied victory could be seen, raising two significant challenges for Churchill and his military commanders. The first challenge was to convince Stalin that a Second Front would be opened to relieve pressure on the Red Army. The second challenge was to prepare for major amphibious assault on the European mainland, an assault on a scale never before attempted and against an enemy that was already well-dug in to defend the shore. The issue with Stalin was psychological and political rather than military. Britain and America had been pouring weapons and supplies into the Soviet Union at considerable cost, particularly for the British PQ and QP convoys that ran the German gauntlet under almost continuous attack by the Luftwaffe, the U-Boats, and even the German surface fleet. Britain and America were building to a round the clock bombing campaign on Germany and Germany occupation forces, following on from what was already a major bombing campaign by the British that had begun in earnest following the repulse of the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain in 1940. This was conducted at enormous cost in loss of aircraft and aircrew and helped the Soviets significantly by both crippling German war production and in drawing anti-aircraft guns away from the Eastern Front. These guns, particularly the 88mm and larger guns would have proved very dangerous to the Red Army's armour as they moved onto the offensive and the long march into Germany. The issue of preparing for a large scale liberation force was more complex and, in the event, took four stages. Any of those stages that were not engaged would have made the prospects for a successful D-Day very poor. The first stage was a frontal landing on enemy held beaches by a force that could be described as reconnaissance by force, or as a large scale commando landing. This was to be the Dieppe Raid and there has never been any evidence that anyone thought of it as anything else in its planning and execution. Selecting Dieppe as the target was seen as high, but necessary, risk and involved a high proportion of Canadian troops, together with new equipment as yet untried in battle. Whether the casualties experienced were expected is open to debate. Certainly, the landing craft were not adequate to the task of recovering all the personnel and equipment that survived the initial landings and there was not the weight of naval artillery offshore to counter shell the strong enemy defences. That meant that losses would be heavy and equipment and prisoners captured by the defenders. The Dieppe Raid produced a wealth of experiences to be applied to the North African Landings and then to the landings on Sicily and the Italian mainland. At each stage, more was learned and by the time the Allies reached the point of landing in Normandy they were very well prepared. By then they knew that if a harbour could not be captured intact, it would be necessary to take one or two prefabricated harbours across to France and an underwater pipeline would be needed to supply the volume of fuel required by a mechanized army to keep it and its armour moving forward. It was fully understood that a large fleet of heavy warships would be required to bombard the enemy with an equal, or greater, weight of shell to that of the enemy. Aerial bombardment and taxi ranks of bomb and rocket equipped ground attack aircraft would be available to attack enemy hot spots and targets of opportunity, and airborne troops would be required in considerable numbers to take and hold key points behind the beaches to hold back German reinforcements and to provide the bridges to carry the Allied advanced troops as the enemy fell back. There would also be a need to mobilize the French Resistance groups to create havoc, cutting communication and sabotaging enemy supplies and vehicles. All of this knowledge came from the Dieppe Raid and the subsequent landings in North Africa and Italy, which also pulled German resources South, weakening the force available to repulse the eventual landings in Normandy. This book sets out facts and provides unique perspective, showing how Dieppe was a necessary component of liberation for Europe. It also provides insight into the great courage and tenacity of those British and Canadian troops who were landed at Dieppe