It began on Sunday, Father's Day. But as my blog was getting on, I tried to save it three different times and in each, the Weebly site I'm using managed to once again fail to do the SAVE. They ought not rely on me for any wonderful advertising in the days to come.
Hopefully Today's attempt to bring you the belated story will succeed. So here goes...
The God's Acre Cemetery has been operating for over 150 years, and got its beginnings with the navy's purchase of land back in 1868. The 1.1 hectare piece of land was self run for years and has grown to now be the final resting place for well over 3,000 members of the military family, their immediate families and others. In 1947 the cemetery was taken over by the folks at Veterans Affairs Canada, and have, since seen its expansion during their ownership.
For many years the cemetery has held ceremonies in honour of various causes. On the 26th of May this year several hundred attended its annual Candlelight Tribute. Each year the cemetery highlights several events in our military history. One of these annual events is called a Candlelight Tribute. These highly special events encourage public participation from several official, non official and civilian representatives of the local population.
This year's theme was the 60th anniversary of bravery and a solum remembrance of the incredibly high costs suffered during the 19 August 1942 attack on the beaches of Dieppe.
But, as thought by some, the attacks along a 16km stretch of coastline was well defended by hidden gun, mortar and other weapons to prevent such a landing. Many of the positions high up in the cliffs were so well concealed that Allied intelligence was completely caught off guard. Evidencing this was verified by some of the officers attacking and seeing evidence of mortar guides used to practice and then the weapons being better zeroed in and ready to counter any attacker.
And the Allies came...some 6,100 strong. About 5000 being Canadians from across the country. Some 1,000 were British Commandos and 50 American Rangers also participated.
Getting over the concrete obstruction closest to the water, you then had a pathway of crushed rock that made it quite difficult to dig into for protection and tank movements. Many of the tanks attacking would never even get off the beaches. Same for the brave soldiers!
The Royal Navy refused to provide enough heavy, long range bombarding of the beach and cliffs beyond. Such would have made landings much easier. Instead it was a Forlorn Hope. Many would call it a suicide mission. But the Canadians were glad to get into battle and very tired of the two years training and retraining and performing defensive duties at London.
So the stage was set for what was destined to be one of the most bloody and horrific few hours of fighting in our nation's history.
Of the 4,963 Canadian troops landing, only 2,210 would make it back to London after the battle. Of about 6,200 involved, 3,367 became casualties, 1,946 became POW's and 916 of the Canadians were killed in action.
The attack was supposed to be a surprise, but one of the vessels approaching the coastline ran into German coastal patrols. A battle broke out and the noise was heard on the beach telling the Germans that an attack was underway.
Delays off shore also saw an arrival, schedual to be in darkness, becoming one in the early morning light. Further challenging the allied attack, was the fact that one of the beach landings starting 1 1/2 hours early. Thus sending the signal that more was to come. Another problem had some of the troops landed on the West side of a river whilst they were supposed to land on the East side.
That river was called the Sice at the left of above image, at Green Beach. I have a particular interest in this and Red Beach.
It was at Green Beech that Lt. Col. Cecil Merritt would go on to earn his Victoria Cross... in crossing a very dangerous bridge under withering fire, and rallying his troops to follow. Had they been landed in the right place much of this loss may have been prevented.
Merritt was a distant cousin of my mother's!
At Red Beach many units landed. One of these was the Toronto Scottish. This remains my favorite regiment of all reserve units in Canada. One in which I first served and remained for close to 15 years. Had I not moved to the East coast I would have continued a career. And one in which I was destined, unknown at the time, to one day becoming its Regimental Sergeant-Major. But alas, by that time I was long gone.
But back to God's Acre, it would be the devastation at Dieppe, the bravery through-out and the horrible costs that would be the subject of remembrance on May 26th.
And that will finally be covered in the next blog on Sunday.
Please join me then.