Unfortunately the news of a Dieppe connection did not come to the organizers of a commemoration here in Victoria until after the program was already prepared.
I however did make a point of visiting the veteran's grave. His name was John Owen Curry and he served as a Major with the Toronto Scottish Regiment. He was one of what has been often said to be only a very few who were awarded the Distinguished Service Order in the battle. My initial research suggests there may well have been a couple of dozen... if not more.
At God's Acre, with considerable help from the folks at Veterans Affairs Canada, Major Curry's resting place was located. I placed a lighted candle at the foot of his grave. Its image, appearing in past blogs is here again for you to have a look at. Here it is...
He passed away just a few years ago and was in fact the last living Dieppe veteran of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry at the time. There were 582 RHLI soldiers that took to the beach at Dieppe. Just under 200 were killed of the beach. Many joined with Ken as POW's, and only 211 of the regiment made it back to England, one half of these being wounded.
Around his neck he is shown wearing a medal that several other veterans of the battle wore. It was after many, many inquiries that I finally learned that the medal was actually one commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Dieppe Raid.
Though almost decipherable, I have manged to determine that the medal consists of an image of the cliff's, the beach area, planes, attacking navy vessels and tanks in the battle.
Ken also wears a family commemoration containing his original his dog tag details. A piece of jewelry that he apparently never took off since its receipt from family. And I mean EVERY DAY, says his daughter. Even when in the shower.
A very close look at the top "badge" on his left reveals a set of miniature handcuffs. These being a constant reminder that after capture, Adolf Hitler actually issued a directive that all prisoners were to be handcuffed day and night. Rope first used, was later replace with medal cuffs.
But prisoners soon found a way to use the lids of Red Cross foodstuffs to make make a key that actually opened the cuffs. It was used nightly when the guards were not as observant of prisoner activity within their quarters.
In the next blog I will bring you some details about how this man's and thousands of others were remembered during the 80th commemoration at Dieppe, of the battle of 19 August, 1942.
Following that blog I will bring you details of a similar that took place at Hamilton, the home obviously of the RHLI. Though it should not be forgotten that similar services were also held across Canada.
After those blogs it is hopeful that I can return to pressing Medal of Honor stories.