Review: Tragedy At Dieppe; Operation Jubilee, August 19, 1942 – By Mark Zuehlke 

Blame Churchill – Not Stalin!

Published in 2012 – this is an adequate book covering the historical details of the above designated military engagement between the forces of Great Britain and the Commonwealth – and those of Nazi German. The selected battleground were the beaches and surrounding environs of coastal area of Dieppe – situated in the Normandy region of Northern France. The main purpose of this operation was to gain Allied experience at ‘combined operations’ – whereby the Airforce, Navy and Army co-ordinate in protecting one another’s forces whilst under attack and efficiently executing a) amphibious-landings, b) the defence of static positions, c) advancing and systematically inflicting destruction upon the enemy, d) where necessary ‘retreating’ in good order to preserve as much men and material as possible. The author makes the error of suggesting that Dieppe happened because an ‘evil’ Joseph Stalin somehow mesmerised the British government inti performing a stupid act supposedly in the guise of a ‘second front’! This is nothing short of US Cold War anti-intellectualism and disinformation! The author even has the gall to blame British trade unions and let-leaning British academics for Dieppe eventually happening!  

Dieppe happened because of Winston Churchill who decided to sacrifice the lives of Canadian troops to save those of British troops – a fact the author of this book completely ignores or never really understood! Dieppe was never considered a ‘second front’ by Roosevelt (as no Americans except 50 Rangers participated in it), by Churchill (for reasons explained further down), or Joseph Stalin who was engaged turning the tide of the genocidal Nazi German invasion of the USSR at the time of the Dieppe Landings. Whilst attempting to demonise the USSR and trivialise the suffering of the Soviet people – the author forgets to mention that during August, 1941, the Soviet Red Army and the British Army successfully ‘combined’ to invade a right-leaning Iran and prevented the region being over-run by the Nazi Germans. Although the Canadians wanted a chance to show their mettle – British General Montgomery stated time and again that the Canadians – as brave as they were – simply did not possess the military experience required for such an operation in Dieppe. 

Dieppe was a Commando raid in strength and in-depth and was never intended as a ‘second front’. Certainly, whilst the Soviet Union was losing a hundred-thousand people a week, events on the Dieppe coast were of little interest or relevance. The reality is that Churchill demanded that the Dieppe Raid be made to a) gain experience, and b) have ‘defeat’ programmed in. The brief given by Churchill to his Generals was that the Dieppe Raid would be a ‘Commando Raid’ but on a relatively large scale. Churchill’s direct involvement is not made clear in this book. The problem was that whilst the British Commando Raids were made by specially trained volunteer soldiers (quite often from the Royal Marines – but not always) – Churchill forbade the use of large-scale Royal Marines at Dieppe as he did not want to waste some of the best troops Britain possessed! Again, to his credit, General Montgomery told Churchill that it was absurd to demand an ‘in strength’ Commando Raid – that omitted the full-scale use of genuine ‘Commandos’ (Commandos were used but only in support of the main Canadian force)! The structural flaw that ran through the very centre of the Dieppe planning had nothing to do with Joseph Stalin and everything to do with the vanity of Winston Churchill (a point deliberately avoided by the author).  

The 5000-strong Canadian contingent suffered 3367 killed, wounded or taken prisoner – an extraordinary casualty rate of 68%! This is how many ‘British’ lives the duplicity of Winston Churchill saved on the day, although of the 1000 British Commands present on the day – 247 men were lost! The Royal Navy lost 550 men – whilst the RAF suffered the loss of 106 aircraft and around 80 pilots! Due to the efficiency of the Nazi German defences – the first-waves of the Allies assault resulted in a slaughter on the beaches with piles of dead Canadian and British soldiers scattered left and right – with unmanned equipment lying here and there – usually with the dead bodies of their crews nearby! As a consequence, many men waiting in reserve could not be landed and their participation never occurred. The objective was to land infantry on the beaches and join-up with previously glider-troops and paratroops – take objectives, secure prisoners and carryout acts of sabotage on key Nazi German installations before fully evacuating every man and machine! The raid was to take just fifteen hours from start to finish – but virtually nothing went to plan (despite the bravery of the men involved). Nazi German casualties were in the low hundreds. The British position has always been that the lessons learned at Dieppe paved the way for the Allied success at Normandy and that every man lost at Dieppe saved at least ten lives at Normandy two years later! By that time, however, the Soviet Red Army (under Joseph Stalin) had smashed some of the best regiments the Nazi Germans had to offer and was moving ever closer to knocking on the doors of Hitler’s Bunker! In the meantime, a genuine ‘second front’ was opened in Italy in 1943 – but this did little to relieve the pressure of the Soviet troops. The Italian troops (supported by the Catholic Church) were poorly led, poorly trained and poorly armed – making them the least of the worries as regard the allies of the Nazi Germans!

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