The 75th anniversary of the Battle of Dieppe was especially commemorated in Windsor, Ontario because its famous Essex Scottish regiment originated from here.
The lead speaker at the event on Aug. 19, 2017 was Morris Brause, former commanding officer of the Essex and Kent Scottish Regiment.
“Lord Louis Mountbatten, Chief of Combined Operations for the Allies, planned for an ambitious raid on the coastal port of Dieppe, France. This raid was regarded by the military staff as an indispensible preliminary to the full-scale invasion of France. Topographically, Dieppe was a very difficult challenge with towering sheer cliffs rising from the waters' edge; adding to these natural defences were the coastal heavy defences reinforced by the Germans during the past years of the occupation.”
“I have no doubt that the Battle of Normandy was won on the beaches of Dieppe,” Mountbatten said following the war. “For every man who died in Dieppe, at least 10 more must have been spared in Normandy in 1944.”
Brause explained that the main objective of the raid “was to conduct a raid to test the theories of beach landings in Europe. The mission of the Essex Scottish was to take the town. In our Canadian military history not every battle is won, so we should not just reflect upon those that are winning battles but we have to reflect on the tragedies also," Brause said to a crowd of assembled veterans, military personnel, and members of the public.
"There wasn't a family or friend that was not affected by this tragedy. Freedom doesn't come without a price and we must always remember that."
"This was a huge tragedy for this regiment but in the indelible spirit of Canada, this regiment rebuilt. In the end it played a significant role in overthrowing the tyrannical Nazi regime,” concluded Brause, who said in an interview for Sun News that criticism of Mountbatten is misplaced, as his vision for a truly combined military operation was thwarted by the British high command.
The 75th was also marked in Ottawa by PM Trudeau.
“As we sit here in the rain, thinking how uncomfortable we must be these minutes as our suits get wet and our hair gets wet and our shoes get wet, I think it’s all the more fitting that we remember on that day, in Dieppe, the rain wasn’t rain — it was bullets,” Trudeau said at the rain-soaked event in Ottawa.
“As we stand here 75 years later with this duty and this act of remembrance, it is all too fitting. Today and every day, we recommit ourselves to the pursuit of peace and justice for all. Today and all days, we remember.” In France, a new monument was unveiled to honour members of the King’s Own Calgary Regiment, which also formed part of the Canadian force at Dieppe. Among dignitaries attending the commemoration in France was the mayor of Windsor.
The cost of Dieppe:
Forces amassed in the raid: 4,963 Canadian troops, 50 American Rangers, 1,075 British commandos and 20 inter-Allied commandos along with air support from the RCAF. Casualties: 3,367 Canadian troops killed, wounded or taken prisoner; death toll: 900.
The Dieppe Raid as of 2017:
1. It was discovered just a couple of days before the ceremony in Windsor that there is still one surviving member of the Essex Scottish regiment. Everett Maracle, now 94, lives in Michigan. You can read his story in an article in the Windsor Star at this link:
2. Anyone with family photos or recollections of the Dieppe raid is asked to contact Nicole Chittle, research assistant at Museum Windsor. She is involved in creating a website to bring together all available information about the people and events dealing with the events of 75 years ago.
3. Dieppe gets an entire room at Museum Windsor (the Chimczuk Museum). There is an excellent display of uniforms, photos and artefacts at the Museum, just a few steps away from the Dieppe Gardens where the ceremony was held. This includes items made by many of the Canadian prisoners of war while they were incarcerated by the Nazis. The smaller photo with this article was taken at this exhibit, which opened on Aug. 19, 2017.
Visit this excellent museum before the exhibit ends on Dec. 31:
Photos with this article by C. Cunningham