But little did they know that the low flying clouds soon no longer hid the British naval attack from Nazi air patrols along the coastline. The development was soon leaked back to England. The "supposed surprise attack" was called off and immediately ordered back across the channel to England, to fight another day.
That day was August 19th!
But the plans soon flew out the window when England's 237 ships, barges and 6 destroyers were not far off the coast. That's when they were sited by a German convoy at sea. A sea battle broke out. Being in the middle of the night, the lights and noise from the battle tipped off the Nazi troops on land that the British armada was on its way to Dieppe. Worse yet the time lost in the sea battle, gave the enemy time to get ready, and for the arrival happening...not in darkness... but daylight.
The top map shown above gives a bit of an idea of the area were the battle would take place. The second map gives far more details.
That second map, for those with a great eye, shows not only the beach front, but a high watermark and then a sea wall. A little more inland you can see, at the left and right of the town a very high cliff traveling left to right.
Behind the sunbathers is a field of very small smooth stones called "chert." These are hard to walk on as they move about and sink as you step on them.
At the right, there is an image of this chert back in 1942. Note some of the obstacles put there to obstruct enemy tanks coming ashore. In the same area there were three separate strands of barbed wire as further obstacles to slow down or prevent entry past this point.
Many of the tanks got bogged down and thus became easy targets for the Nazi troops and their high powered mortars and shore guns. After the battle one of the officers was overheard saying that he saw what appeared to be aiming sticks in the ground that allowed the weapons to zero in on and get the right bearing for later firing onto the very ground of the sticks, if an attacking vehicle was in the right spot.
One of the guards of the later POW's actual took a lot of pictures and gave some to the POW's. The center picture is one of these. It shows some of the obstacles placed along the shore line and at left, the sea wall that the men had to struggle to get over during their attack.
The image also clearly shows the power the Nazi's had over the attackers, with high powered machine guns and artillery pieces that were placed along the crests of the cliff and in many cases actually dug into the face and top of the cliffs to boot.
Military intelligence on Britain's side failed to disclose these threats to the attackers. Probably because they did not apparently even know they existed. neither were the troops warned about the hazards the chert was going to cause.
The lower 2 pictures clearly show two of the tanks bogged down and becoming sitting targets.
In the first one there seems to be evidence of two carriers in the water just off the beach and more on shore looking past these two. So the image is probably after the battle.
The second image also clearly shows the obstructions the Nazi's put in place to deter a landing.
The area today is obviously a tourist trap of sorts. It seems to show the same pill box dug down into the cliff from the top and may be the same location as that of the first image.
Picture number 4 shows one of the many German Machine Gun nests, and is indicative of the damage it could do from a spot well dug into the cliff's face for protection. One of enemy's artillery pieces is shown in the last image.
Of the 237 ships, landing barges and 6 destroyers, one destroyer and over 30 landing craft were lost to the enemy. Of about 30 tanks landed, only half would make it over the seawall. About 1,000 planes from the Royal Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force played key roles in the battle. The RAF losing 106 planes while German counterparts lost only 48 planes.
Almost 6,000 troops (not including airmen) went into this bloody battle on August 19, 1942. about 5,000 were Canadians. About 1,000 were from Britain. Also deep in the battle were some 50 US and 15 French Commando's.
Canadian soldiers came from the South Saskatchewan Regiment, the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders, the Calgary Tanks, The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry, the Essex Scottish, The Toronto Scottish Regiment, the Royal Regiment of Canada, The Royal Canadian Engineers, the Fusiliers de Mont. Royal and a small contingent of Military Police and perhaps others.
Within four hours of the battle starting, some 3025 were killed, wounded or soon prisoners of war. The Brits lost over 200 men. Orders then came down to retreat. Many wounded had already been wisked away by water, but finally the attacking forces had to completely vacate the coastline and return to England. But without enough vessels many became POW's
The Germans had now under their control about 2000 invading troops as POW's
A week from today, hopefully I will bring the next segment and it will cover the 80th Commemorative ceremony in Dieppe and a week later I will bring you coverage of a similar gathering at Hamilton Ontario, also held on August 19th.
On another note, I often use this space to highlight women heroes of uniform both in Canada and the US. So it is important to do this again today.
Here is that woman in uniform, only a Second Lieutenant at the time but destined to higher authority in her future.
Here she is...
Later she would join in the family business, if you will. Her name was Elizabeth and she would one day become the Queen of England, and of course Canada. In her 96th year of life, she would hold the record as the longest serving Monarch in British History.
The world grieved the moment they heard the news today of her passing early this morning.
Many hold personal memories of being in her audience, speaking with her, or just being at the same events she attended.
I too hold such a memory dating back to about the time that I had about completed 2/3rds of my term in the military.
Her Royal Highness would go on to serve over 70 years, and as such was the longest serving monarch until very early this morning.
She sadly passed away in her 96th year of life today.
Lest we Forget!