Dieppe and Canada, the little-known history of the first landing
Everyone knows the famous D-Day landings of 6th June 1944 on the beaches of the Calvados and Manche departments. But do you know about the one that took place two years before in Dieppe? In August 1942, Churchill and the Allies decided to test the German forces in order to assess the opportunities of opening a second a front in the west to relieve the Russians badly affected in the east. So, they set up "Operation Jubilee". It consisted in landing along the Norman Coast, destroying German military defences, bringing back information and documents, and if possible prisoners. Similar operations, called "commando operations", which are actually short raids, had been conducted before, including in Saint-Jouin-Bruneval, near Havre.
Dieppe was chosen for its deep-water port, its large beach and its proximity to the English coast. About 250 ships, 8 000 men, consisting mostly of Canadians, and numerous aircrafts landed in Dieppe early in the morning on the 19th August 1942. Unfortunately, this operation was a bloody failure. The violent battle lasted only a few hours. More than 2,000 Allied soldiers were killed. And many were made prisoners. The most fortunate ones managed to withdraw back to the ships and return to England.
Finally, the D-Day Landings of 6th June 1944 changed the course of history... But if Operation Jubilee had not happened, this Battle of Normandy would have perhaps never taken place. At the Liberation, it was Canadian soldiers who liberated the town of Dieppe, still wounded by that momentous day of 19th August 1942.
Since that day, Dieppe and Canada have developed strong relationships. A town in New Brunswick in Canada has been renamed Dieppe in 1952 to honour the memory of the Canadian soldiers who died during this raid.
In Dieppe, a Memorial has been erected to help understand what Operation Jubilee was, which went down forever in the history of mankind.