This day in history the Allies raided the French port of Dieppe in 1942. The port on the northern coast of France was of great strategic importance. It had been occupied by the Germans for two years and they had a sizeable force stationed in the port. The Dieppe Raid was ultimately a costly failure for the Allies and it remains one of the Churchill’s most controversial decisions. The raid was a failure and many men lost their lives or were captured.
It is believed that Churchill was keen to show Stalin that the western allies were committed to relieving the pressure on Stalin and the Soviet Union. The USSR had barely managed to stave off defeat in the winter of 1941. In the Summer of 1942, the Germans are once again on the offensive and they had thrust deep into the south of Russia and the Caucasus. Stalin demanded British and American support. Churchill planned the raid to demonstrate to Moscow that London and Washington were going to do all they could to help their allies in the east. This led to the formulation of the plan to launch a large-scale raid against Dieppe, which was known as Operation Jubilee.
On this day, an Allied force of 7,000 men conducted a large daytime raid against German positions in and around Dieppe. The plan was to land the force on the beaches around Dieppe using landing craft. They would then seize German positions and this would hopefully cause the Germans to rush forces to Dieppe. This was all designed to divert German troops from the east by demonstrating that the allies were willing to launch raids on Nazi-occupied France.
This was very daring and some historians regard it as reckless. A nigh-raid would have offered the allies some cover. The Allied forces landed on the beaches and they were supported by tanks and aircraft. The force–made up of approximately 5,000 Canadians and 2,000 British soldiers, encountered fierce German defense as they landed on the beaches. During a day of fighting, the Allies failed to achieve their targets. They were forced to evacuate that night. The raid on Dieppe had cost the allies some 3,600 men, killed or captured. The casualties were kept secret by London out of fears that they would damage morale. The Germans made a great play of their ‘victory’ at Dieppe and they made many propaganda films about the failed raid.
The bravery of the allied troops was great and many soldiers were decorated for their bravery.
The allies also lost some 90 planes, a destroyer, 30 landing craft, and 20 tanks. Despite its high costs, the Dieppe raid provided valuable logistical information later used in planning the successful 1944 Allied landing at Normandy. The lessons learned at Dieppe ensured that the allies were to make no mistakes on D-Day.