Royal Canadian Army : Operation Jubilee, Dieppe, France 1942 (Report)


Canadian scout is seen during the commemorations to honor Allied soldiers killed 70 years ago in a failed World War II invasion, take place at the Cemetery of Virtues in Dieppe, northern France, Sunday Aug. 19, 2012. Some 1,400 soldiers were killed in “Operation Jubilee” when the Allies tried to briefly invade Dieppe to test German defenses. There are 904 Canadian soldiers buried at the Cemetery of Virtues. (AP Photo – Michel Spingler)

Royal Canadian Army
Report N° 83 (Premilinary), Historical Officer, Canadian Military Headquarters, September 12 1942, Preliminary Report on Operation Jubilee (The Raid on Dieppe, France) August 19 1942.

1 – This Report presents an outline sketch of the important combined operation in the Dieppe Area, carried out on August 19 1942 by a force which included large elements of the 2nd Canadian Division and other Canadian troops. It will be a considerable time before a complete historical Report on this operation, which was by far the most extensive yet undertaken by the Canadian Army Overseas, can be prepared. In the mean time the document attached as Appendix ‘A’, a draft prepared originally with a view to publication by the Government of Canada, is presented as a preliminary account.

2 – After a period of more than two and a half years from the time of the landing of the 1st Canadian Division in the United Kingdom, during which there to all intents and purposes no actual contact with the enemy, the Canadian Army Overseas underwent what was a definite sense its baptism of fire in the Dieppe raid. This raid was much the most extensive of any combined operations which have been undertaken against the enemy-occupied coasts of Western Europe since so much of the continent was overrun by the Germans in 1940. The Canadian Army found the major part of the landing force, providing for the purpose two Infantry Brigades of the 2nd Canadian Division (4th Canadian Infantry Brigade and 6th Canadian Infantry Brigades) as well as an Army Tank Battalion equipped with Churchill tanks, and large detachments of miscellaneous units.

3 – This was an extremely hazardous operation involving an attack on a very strong position (the strength of which, moreover, is now admitted to have been somewhat underestimated) and our losses very very heavy. A preliminary report indicates that the total number of Canadian troops embarked for the operation was 4,912 (304 officers and 4,608 soldiers). There returned a total 2,147 (109 officers and 2,038 soldiers). These figures are to be regarded as merely approximate; in a subsequent report it is hoped to provide final ones. On September 15 1942, the Canadian Government announced that the total Canadian casualties in the operation amounted to 3,350 dead, wounded and missing (Source : Times, London, September 16 1942). The heaviest losses were suffered by the 4th Canadian Infantry Brigade, which according to the same preliminary figures already mentioned embarked 94 officers and 1,604 soldiers and brought back 17 officers and 334 soldiers.

Canadian dead on Blue beach at Puys. Trapped between the beach and high sea wall (fortified with barbed wire), they made easy enfilade targets for MG-34 machine guns in a German bunker. The bunker firing slit is visible in the distance, just above the German soldier’s head.” width=”773″ height=”502″ /> Canadian dead on Blue beach at Puys. Trapped between the beach and high sea wall (fortified with barbed wire), they made easy enfilade targets for MG-34 machine guns in a German bunker. The bunker firing slit is visible in the distance, just above the German soldier’s head.

4 – The brief account of the operation which is attached as Appendix ‘A’ was prepared by the writer as the result of a request received from the Dominion Government for a statement in the form of a ‘White Paper’ which could be given to the public in explanation of the objective and events of the operation. The writer was instructed to prepare such a document. It was felt that since the enemy was known to have captured the copy of the Military Operation Order taken ashore by HQs 6th Canadian Infantry Brigade, security was rather less important than in normal cases, and that it would be possible to present a fairly full account of the operation for the benefit of the Canadian public. In an interview with Brigadier Penhale and Brigadier Mann, at which the writer was present (August 31 1942), Maj Gen Haydon, Vice-Chief of Combined Operations, expressed the personal view that in these circumstances it would be proper to prepare the ‘White Paper’ on the basis of the preliminary report of the Military Force Commander (Maj Gen J. H. Roberts, M.C. G.O.C. 2nd Canadian Division). The writer accordingly wrote a draft on this basis. This was submitted to Gen McNaughton for his comments and revised in accordance with them. The draft as thus revised is the document attached to the resent report as Appendix ‘A’.

Dieppe – beach and cliff immediately following the raid on 19 August 1942, a Dingo Scout Car has been abandoned.

5 – When, however, this draft was subsequently submitted to Combined Operations Headquarters, the authorities there took exception to many passages in it. It appeared that C.O.H.Q. strongly objected to, among other things, the publication of any material which might seem, even by implication, to admit the loss of the Operation Order. The Chief of Combined Operations (Vice-Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten) told Brigadier Young (then B.G.S., C.M.H.Q.) that the publication of this draft would be worth £500,000 to the enemy. Accordingly the draft was revised by the Public Relations staff of C.O.H.Q. (the actual work being done, curiously enough, by a United States officer, Maj Lawrence, who is a member of that staff). The writer then again revised his account, following general lines of Maj Lawrence’s draft, but using as far as possible, under instructions from C.M.H.Q., the words of his own original version as here appended.

6 – The revised account, necessarily very much less informative than the one originally approved by Gen McNaughton, was passed by Combined Operations Headquarters and in due course forwarded to Ottawa for publication if the authorities there saw fit.

Destroyed landing craft on fire with Canadian dead on the beach. A concrete gun emplacement on the right covers the whole beach. The steep gradient can clearly be judged.

7 – It is thought that the original draft here presented, although necessarily hastily written and incomplete, is not wholly without historical value. Accordingly, it is forwarded, pending the completion of a fuller account, the preparation of which will be matter of months.

8 – As already noted, the draft owes much to Gen Roberts’ preliminary Report, some passages of which were incorporated in it verbatim. The writer also drew heavily (particularly in the references to preparation and training, and the results of the raid) upon his own notes of Gen McNaughton’s remarks to a party visiting Canadian editors, in an interview at Headley Court, near Leatherhead, on August 27 1942.

9 – It is worth noting that this operation will be extremely well documented. With a view to the collection of all possible information of operational value, it was directed that all Canadian personnel returning from the operation should make written statements of their experiences. These statements constitute historical sources of unusual interest and value. A large number of files of these, obtained at HQs 2nd Canadian Infantry Division, are at present in the hands of the writer at C.W.H.Q.; and he understands that in many cases, at least, copies of these personal accounts have been placed as appendices upon the War Diaries of the units concerned.

10 – The documents relating to the preparation of the ‘White Paper’, and the negotiation with C.O.H.Q. in the matter, are on C.M.H.Q. file 4/PRESS/3/3.

(C.P.Stacey) Major
Historical Officer

Postscript – Since the foregoing paragraphs were written, the ‘White Paper’ has been published in Canada by the Minister of National Defense. A moderately complete version appears in The Times (London) September 19 1942.

Canadian wounded and abandoned Churchill tanks after the raid. A landing craft is on fire in the background.

Report N° 83 – Appendix A

It is now possible to give fuller details of the Combined Operation against the enemy forces in the Dieppe area, carried out on August 19 1942 by forces which included a large body of the Canadian Army Overseas. This account is based upon the preliminary report made by the Military Force Commander (Maj Gen J.H. Roberts, M.C., G.O.C. 2nd Canadian Division) and upon examination of personal reports made by many participants including a large number of NCOs and private soldiers, and statements by enemy prisoners of war.

Objects and Preliminaries of the Operation

The operation against Dieppe had in view both local and larger objects. It was part of a program designed to compel the enemy to retain and employ in Western Europe military forces and other resources which would otherwise be available for employment elsewhere. It was further considered that such an operation would afford our forces most essential practical experience in the landing on an enemy-occupied coast of a large force, including heavy tanks. Experience of this sort would be invaluable on other operations envisaged for the future. The local objectives of the raid are defined as follow in the Military Operation Order. The code name “Jubilee” was employed in reference both to the operation and to the town of Dieppe : [Operation Jubilee is a raid on Jubilee with limited military and air objectives, embracing the destruction of local defenses, power stations, harbor installations, rolling stock, etc., in Jubilee, the capture of prisoners, the destruction of an aerodrome near the town and the capture and removal of German invasion barges and other craft in the harbor.

This operation was most carefully prepared in advance in every detail. Before the employment of Canadian military forces was approved by Lt Gen A.G.L. McNaughton, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O., G.O.C.-in-C., First Canadian Army, he had satisfied himself that the objectives were worth while and that the means available were likely to be adequate for the task in hand. Detailed planning of the operation began on the 8th May last. The work of planning was long and exacting, involving repeated conferences between senior officers of the three fighting services, and the preparation of a very careful administrative scheme. The planning of the enterprise, so far as the Canadian military forces were concerned, was directed by Gen Roberts, the Military Force Commander.

The officers charged with planning the operation had a their disposal a great mass of information relating to the Dieppe area collected from many sources. The proposed operation was checked on a large-scale model of the area to be raided, and when the plans were completed a most thorough understanding had been established between the three services. The forces to be employed in the enterprise were subjected to an intensive special program of Combined Operations training. The Canadian military units chosen to participate proceeded to a training area on the English coast where the plans could be tested by actual exercises under conditions approximating to those in the Dieppe area itself. In the first instance the plans as developed were tried out in a full-scale exercise in which the whole force landed on a section of coast and established a temporary bridgehead in the manner proposed for the actual operation. Subsequently the results of this exercise were carefully analyzed and the plans modified accordingly. Another full-scale exercise then took place and the arrangements as modified were found to be much more satisfactory than before. After further analysis and consideration it was decided that the operation might now proceed.

It had at first been proposed to conduct the raid in June 1942, but arrangements could not be completed in time, and it was postponed until early July 1942, when conditions of moon and tide would be satisfactory for such an enterprise. At this period, however, the weather, a most important element in Combined Operations, was so unfavorable that it was found necessary to make a further postponement until the following month. It was therefore scheduled for the period in August 1942 when conditions would be suitable. As the date approached, very careful preparations were made for the assembly of the troops in the points of embarkation. Every effort was made to ensure secrecy during movement of troops to the ports. All stores, equipment, reserve ammunition, etc., were loaded on the assault ships in advance of the troops.

Thanks to the precautions taken, it is believed that the enemy, in spite of the size of the force involved and the long period of training and preparation, had no information that a specific operation against the Dieppe area was projected. However, in view of the obvious danger of attack on his Western front, he had been strengthening his position on the French coast generally. The Germans on the French coast were in what may be called a state of general alert. Nevertheless the fact that parts of their garrison in the Dieppe area obtained early knowledge of our enterprise was apparently due, not to leakage of information, but to a fortuitous incident which took place as our forces were approaching the French coast on the night of the operation. While Gen Roberts as already noted, commanded the Military Force for the operation, the Naval Force Commander was Capt J. Hughes-Hallet, R.N., and the Air Force Commander was Air Commodore T. Leigh-Mallory, C.B., D.S.O. The whole operation was under the general supervision, and the plans were subject to the approval, of Vice-Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, G.C.V.O., D.S.O., Chief of Combined Operations. Canadian plans were concerted with the latter by Lt Gen H.D.G. Crerar, D.S.O., General Officer Commanding a Canadian Corps. The Canadian military force involved was composed basically of large elements of two brigades of the 2nd Canadian Division commanded by Brigadier W.W. Southan and Brigadier S. Lett, and a battalion of the 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade. In addition, detachments of all arms and services played essential parts in the operation. Units of the 2nd Canadian Division were chosen because, although these troops had been in the United Kingdom since 1940 they had had no opportunities for active employment such as had fallen to troops of the 1st Canadian Division in France in June 1940 and in the expedition to Spitsbergen. The 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade was the first Canadian armored formation to arrive to the UK. All the troops chosen for the enterprise were in a high state of general training, apart from the additional and special training which they received for this operation.

Canadian Troops in the UK

Individual and Platoon Training : Guillemont Barracks – September to December 1940. The Calgary Highlanders had arrived in the UK at the height of the Battle of Britain; the German attempt to gain mastery over the Royal Air Force as a prelude to invasion. When off duty, the Highlanders were witnesses to the great air battles; German bombers were visible by day flying to London, and at night searchlights and flames were in evidence. Those lucky enough to go into London itself could see the effects of the bombing. The air battles were a distraction to training, and the Highlanders found themselves standing to for long hours during air raids, and confined to barracks for long periods of time. Not long after arrival in England, the Highlanders were moved from the 6th to the 5th Infantry Brigade, a change made permanent in November. Training at this time was on a small scale, usually with borrowed equipment and consisted of such activities as platoon drill, route marches by night and day, map and compass work, small arms training and support weapon training with the Bren, Boys, and Thompson guns. Deficiencies in transport were a problem (and would remain so into 1941) and the Calgary Highlanders had only two motorcycles, 34 motor vehicles, and 35 bicycles; which still represented the most lavish distribution of transport to the battalion up to that point in time. As transport began to trickle in, the battalion began to practice moves, the first coming on 16 September and followed by others.

Towards the end of September, the danger of invasion was seen to wane, and five-day landing leaves began to be granted to the men, 80 man parties leaving every day. On October 1, a German bomb damaged the battalion’s cook house and killed a soldier from the Lorne Scots. The battalion’s first fatality occurred when Pvt F.E. Brown collided into a truck while riding a motorcycle. Sundays allowed for 100 man parties from the battalion to go to Windsor Castle for church parade, and several men of the battalion were spoken to by the King and Queen whilst on the grounds. On December 16 1940, the Highlanders moved to Talavera Barracks, near Aldershot to the south of London. Tactical exercises were conducted, simulating conditions in the field, and involving the concepts of fire and movement, as well as practice in patrolling. The companies began to exercise as companies, and battalion sized exercises were also conducted. A brigade exercise allowed the Highlanders to practice moving in concert with the Black Watch and Le Regiment de Maisonneuve. The first marriage of a Highlander to an English girl occurred on 15 December; the first of many such unions. The six Canadian infantry brigades in the UK in early 1941 were rotated through coastal positions, and the Highlanders relieved the Essex Scottish in positions near Brighton on January 19 and 20. Their area of responsibility stretched from Shoreham by the Sea to Hove. The weather was either foggy or rainy, and always cold. No training was conducted during this period, but the battalion did much work in improving defenses.

The Highlanders returned to Talavara barracks on February 15 1941. The first battalion set-piece attack was conducted on February 23 1941; in support were the 5th Field Regiment, RCA, a troop of anti-tank guns from the 2nd Anti-Tank Regiment, two platoons of medium machine guns, and a section of the 7th Field Company, RCE. The battalion was complimented for its conduct in this exercise.

2nd Canadian Division Carriers on maneuvers in June 1941. The carriers at left with the unit sign ’62’ belong to the Calgary Highlanders. These carriers are no doubt mustered for the camera; in actual combat conditions they would not be deployed so close together The Carrier Platoon was detached during this period to Hill Force and Farran’s history notes that they became ‘lax in discipline’ at this time. They returned to the Highlanders in August 1941, beginning a ‘drive for greater smartness and the lavish use of blanco throughout the unit’

Exercise DOG

The 2nd Division began to test its own ability to move. Exercise Dog, on Feb 26 1941, was disappointing. The 5th Brigade was to defend a line from Chichester to Arundel against a fictional German landing between Bognor Regis and Lillehampton. The battalion moved between 1700 and 2045 on the 26th and bedded down in the open with Battalion HQ at Holland’s Heath Farm. The next morning, the Calgary Highlanders led a brigade column across the River Rother, and formed for an attack in driving rain, with C Co and D Co leading. A Co and B Co stayed in reserve with the battalion headquarters at Littleton Farm. The battalion had to fight its way to the start line, however, as the entire brigade had to move its transport through three miles of a single road. Poor communications and poor weather finally led to the cancellation of the attack. B Co had to wait a fair amount of time for their vehicles to arrive and retrieve them; D Co made its own way back to Talavera Barracks. Another exercise was held on Mar 3 1941, and improved communications allowed the Highlanders to cross their start line only five minutes late. The exercise, near the Half Moon Inn, took place in good weather, though the battalion had to march back to camp some 10 miles in driving rain at the conclusion of the scheme. The first fatality attributable to enemy action occurred when Pvt D. A. Stewart was killed in an air raid in Glasgow on March 13. He would be one of only two Calgary Highlanders to die due to enemy action until the battalion came ashore in Normandy over three years later. While the Battle of Britain was officially over, enemy aircraft continued to make their presence felt. A crash landed German aircraft had to be guarded by Calgary Highlanders as well.

Exercise Benito

April Fool’s Day (1 April) brought a false start to Exercise Benito, which was canceled abruptly after the battalion moved to an assembly area near Southwater in the rain. The exercise began for real on April 16, and was a four day long advance-to-contact scheme conducted on foot. At the end of April a brigade night maneuver went not at all well; the Officers’ Mess benefited from Lt Wynn Lasher running down a rabbit with his motorcycle as he attempted to get the convoy into order.

Exercise Waterloo

In June, Waterloo tested the ability of the British and Canadians to defend the south coast against enemy invasion. Confusion once more was the order of the day.

The South Coast – July 1941

Late in June, the 2nd Canadian Division as a whole moved to the south coast of England in order to “exchange roles for approximately a month with 55 (British) Division.” The Division had been in barracks in Aldershot since their arrival in the UK the previous year. The Division moved under the operational control of IV Corps while the British division came under Canadian operational control in the Aldershot area.

July saw the Calgary Highlanders again moved to the south coast; on the 3rd they moved into positions around Bexhill-on-Sea. Farran’s history describes the move to Bexhill as a happy one, for relations with the local populace were very warm. Platoons were billeted in houses along the sea-front and close contact was kept with the local Home Guard troops. A secondary preoccupation for the troops was the care of the many flower gardens among their billets. The locals held parties and dances for all ranks in private homes and clubs such as the De La Warr Pavillion, an impressive structure built in 1935 able to seat 1500 patrons and also providing a 200 seat seaside restaurant. The Division moved during the week ending July 5 1941. The move of the 5th Brigade was observed by the Commander of the First Canadian Corps, the G.O.C of the 2nd Division, and the Minister of National Defence (Air), C. G. Power as well as Ian MacKenzie, at that time Minister of Pensions and National Health. The move was to achieve several aims; to alleviate boredom among the Canadians, but also to give the division experience in coastal defense operations. The move was popular among officers of the Division, according to a contemporary CMHQ report, and also “brought the men the opportunity of bathing in the sea.” The Divisional reconnaissance battalion did not make the move with the Division – and the move was not publicized for security reasons. Divisional Headquarters was located at Heathfield Park, approximately 15 miles north of Eastbourne. The Division eventually held a total frontage of 46 miles of coast, from the west edge of Peacehaven to a point three miles east of Rye Harbour and encompassing four topographical sectors. From a a CMHQ report :

– (a) From Peacehaven to Eastbourne the eastern end of the great ridge of the South Downs lies close to the coast, and in the vicinity of Beachy Head forms steep cliffs which are regarded as impassable from the sea and on which therefore there are no company localities.

– (b) From Eastbourne eastward to the vicinity of Bexhill the coast is completely flat and landings on the open beach would be possible.

– (c) From Bexhill to the vicinity of Pett, the high ground sometimes called Battle Ridge intersects the coast and provides another range of high cliffs between Hastings and Fairlight. On these again there are no company localities.

– (d) From Pett eastward the coast is again very low, with tidal flats on either side of the mouth of the Rother River.

Exercise Bumper

On September 25 1941, the Calgary Highlanders joined a sizable force in an exercise once again simulating a German invasion of England. The battalion received the compliments of one British Umpire, and Bercuson tells us that the majority of movement difficulties that arose during the exercise “were the result of failures at higher levels or in the other battalions.” In the first week of October, the Highlanders moved back to the Aldershot area. It was at this time that training would take a dramatic new turn.

Operation Jubilee – Ground Forces – Order of Battle

The landing force commander was Maj Gen John Hamilton Roberts, the commander of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division.

– 2nd Canadian Infantry Division
– 4th Canadian Infantry Brigade
– Essex Scottish Regiment
– Royal Hamilton Light Infantry
– Royal Regiment of Canada
– 5th Canadian Infantry Brigade
– 3 Platoons, Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada
– Mortar Platoon, Calgary Highlanders
– 6th Canadian Infantry Brigade
– Fusiliers Mont-Royal
– Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada
– South Saskatchewan Regiment
– N°6 Defense Platoon, Lorne Scots
– 14th Army Tank Regiment, Calgary Regiment
– Detachment, 3rd Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, RCA
– Detachment, 4th Field Regiment, RCA
– Toronto Scottish Regiment (Machine Gun)
– N°3 Commando
– N°4 Commando
– N°10 Inter-Allied Commando
– A Commando Royal Marines
– N°30 Commando
– N°40 Commando
– Detachment of 1st US Ranger Battalion

Operation Jubilee – Naval Forces – Order of Battle

The naval forces were under the command of Capt John Hughes-Hallett of the Royal Navy and composed of :

– 8 Hunt class destroyers
– HMS Albrighton
– HMS Berkeley
– HMS Bleasdale
– HMS Brocklesby
– HMS Calpe
– HMS Fernie
– HMS Garth
– ORP Ślązak (Polish Navy)
– 1 gunboat, HMS Locust
– 9th Minesweeper Flotilla
– 13th Minesweeper Flotilla
– 9 landing ships, infantry
– HMS Duke of Wellington
– HMS Glengyle
– HMS Invicta
– HMS Prince Charles
– HMS Prince Leopold
– HMS Princess Beatrix
– HMS Princess Astrid
– HMS Prins Albert
– HMS Queen Emma

Supporting elements came from Royal Navy Coastal Forces

– 12 motor gun boats
– 4 steam gun boats (1st SGB Flotilla)
– 20 motor launches

Operation Jubilee – Air Forces – Order of Battle

The Allied air forces were under the command of Air Vice Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory and composed of :

– RAF Fighter Command N° 11 Group RAF
– 48 Spitfire squadrons
– N°19 Squadron RAF
– N°41 Squadron RAF
– N°43 Squadron RAF
– N°64 Squadron RAF
– N°66 Squadron RAF
– N°71 Squadron RAF (American)
– N°81 Squadron RAF
– N°87 Squadron RAF
– N°91 Squadron RAF
– N°111 Squadron RAF
– N°121 (Eagle) Squadron RAF (American volunteers)
– N°122 Squadron RAF
– N°124 Squadron RAF
– N°129 Squadron RAF
– N°130 Squadron RAF
– N°131 Squadron RAF
– N°133 (Eagle) Squadron (American)
– N°134 Squadron RAF
– N°154 Squadron RAF
– N°165 Squadron RAF
– N°222 Squadron RAF
– N°232 Squadron RAF
– N°242 Squadron RAF
– N°302 Polish Fighter Squadronb (City of Poznań)
– N°303 Polish Fighter Squadron (Kościuszko)
– N°306 Polish Fighter Squadron (City of Toruń)
– N°308 Polish Fighter Squadron (City of Kraków)
– N°310 Czechoslovak Fighter Squadron
– N°312 Czechoslovak Fighter Squadron
– N°318 Polish Fighter Squadron (City of Wilno)
– N°331 Norwegian Fighter Squadron
– N°332 Norwegian Fighter Squadron
– N°340 French Fighter Squadron (GC/IV/2 Ile de France)
– N°350 Belgian Fighter Squadron (Belgian)
– N°401 Squadron RCAF
– N°403 Squadron RCAF
– N°411 Squadron RCAF
– N°412 Squadron RCAF
– N°501 Squadron RAF
– N°602 Squadron RAF
– N°610 Squadron RAF
– N°611 Squadron RAF
– N°616 Squadron RAF
– 8 Hurricane squadrons
– N°3 Squadron RAF
– N°32 Squadron RAF
– N°43 Squadron RAF
– N°87 Squadron RAF
– N°174 Squadron RAF
– N°175 Squadron RAF
– N°245 Squadron RAF
– N°253 Squadron RAF
– 2 Mustang squadrons
– N°26 Squadron RAF
– N°239 Squadron RAF
– N°400 Squadron RCAF
– N°414 Squadron RCAF
– 3 Hawker Typhoon squadrons
– N°56 Squadron RAF
– N°266 Squadron RAF
– 2 Bristol Blenheim light bomber squadrons
– N°13 Squadron RAF
– N°614 Squadron RAF
– 1 Bristol Beaufighter squadron
– 1 Boston light bomber squadron
– N°418 Squadron RCAF
– RAF Bomber Command No. 2 Group RAF
– 5 Boston squadrons
– N°88 Squadron RAF
– N°107 Squadron RAF
– N°226 Squadron RAF
– USAAF Eighth Air Force
– 97th Bombardment Group (B-17s)
– 340th Bombardment Squadron
– 341st Bombardment Squadron
– 342nd Bombardment Squadron
– 414th Bombardment Squadron
– 31st Fighter Group (Spitfires)
– 307th Fighter Squadron
– 308th Fighter Squadron
– 309th Fighter Squadron

The troops embarked at several different points in order to disguise from the enemy the act that there was any concentration of forces. Large naval forces were made available to protect the craft carrying military personnel during the channel crossing, and to provide bombardment cover for the landing. Very comprehensive arrangements had been made for the provision of air cover by the Royal Air Force. The Military Force Commander and the Naval Force Commander embarked together on a destroyer which served as Headquarters Ship, and a duplicate Headquarters was provided in a second destroyer (on which the senior military officer was Brigadier C.C. Mann) in case this Headquarters Ship should be destroyed or seriously damaged. The Air Force Commander directed the operations from a Headquarters in England which was considered the most convenient point for the control of the very large number of squadrons employed; but he was represented afloat in the Headquarters Ship by Air Commodore A.T. Cole, C.B.E., M.C., D.F.C., whose task it was to advice and assist the Naval and Military Force Commanders. This officer was in turn assisted by an adequate staff of officers of the Royal Air Force.

Before the force sailed all ranks were fully briefed in their respective tasks, and appropriate maps, air photographs, and the latest available intelligence were issued. In order to escape observation by enemy aircraft, the expedition sailed under cover of darkness. It left shore at dark on August 18 and made direct passage to Dieppe, France.

Dieppe, France – Operation Jubilee

German Defenses

Defence of the coast at Dieppe was by the 302. Infanterie Division under the command of Generalleutnant Konrad Haase. This division was assigned to LXXXI Armee Korps, Armee Gruppe D.

– 302. Static Infantry Division
– 570. Infantry Regiment
– 571. Infantry Regiment
– 572. Infantry Regiment
– 302. Artillery Regiment
– 302. Reconnaissance Battalion
– 302. Antitank Battalion
– 302. Engineer Battalion
– 216. Battery
– 813. Battery
– 2/770. Army Coastal Battery
– Heavy Flak Group

The following German formations, beside the fact that they were available as reserves, but did not actually participate in the battle :

– 676. Infantry Regiment
– 10. Panzer Division
– SS Infantry Brigade, 1. SS Panzer Division

– Jagdgeschwader 2
– Jagdgeschwader 26
– Kampfgeschwader 2
– II./Kampfgeschader 40
– 1.(F)/123 Reconnaissance

The town of Dieppe lies at the mouth of the Arques River, which provides a fairly spacious harbor lying to the South and East of the town. Past of the river and the harbor is a lofty headland overlooking the town and a similar headland lies immediately to the West of the town. On a great part of the coast in this vicinity cliffs make a landing from the sea virtually impossible, but there are areas of low ground providing avenues into the interior in the vicinity of Puits, a little more than 1500 meters to the East of the river, and at Pourville, situated at the mouth of the Scie River about 2000 meters West of the town. The beach immediately in the front of Dieppe itself is suitable for landing operations, but the approach to the town is obstructed by a sea-wall which the Germans had turned into a more formidable obstacle by the use of heavy barbed wire, while the beach is also commanded from the headlands on either side.

The plan for the operation provided that the first assault should be delivered by Commando troops against enemy coastal batteries at Varengeville, roughly 8000 meters West of Dieppe, and Berneval, roughly 9000 meters East of the town. The capture of the enemy coastal artillery guns at these points was considered essential to the safety of or naval vessels and the successful execution of the landing operations. Simultaneous with the commando attacks at these points, Canadian forces were to land at Pourville and Puits. From the former point troops were to penetrate inland and destroy an aerodrome 8000 meters South of Dieppe; while the troops landed at Puits were to secure the headland East of Dieppe, from which the enemy would otherwise be in a position to menace landings attempted on the beach in the front of the town itself. Half an hour after the four landings just described, the main attack was to be delivered against the front of the town, following a naval and air bombardment designed to neutralize the defenses. Heavy tanks were to be employed in this attack in support of the Canadian Infantry.


Little Belgian Boy Saluting Canadian Troops. A young boy in Belgium waits all day for Canadian troops to march by for a remembrance parade. When the troops appear, the kilt-wearing boy respectfully salutes the soldiers as they finally cross his path.

Operation Jubilee

At Varengeville the operation proceeded according to plan. Here Commando #4 (Lt Col Lord Lovat, M.C.), landed successfully, carried the battery which was their objective, captured prisoners, destroyed the guns and their ammunition dump and subsequently withdraw.

On the other flank, at Berneval, Commando #3 (Lt Col R. G. Durnford-Slater), met with a misfortune which affected the whole subsequent course of the operation. At 0330 in the morning the landing craft carrying his force, which was scheduled to land at 0450, encountered five or six enemy vessels which acting as escort to a tanker ship. A naval engagement ensued. As a result not only were the landing craft carrying the Commando dispersed, but the German troops holding the defenses which were the objective on this flank were unquestionably warned of the approach of our force. Due to these circumstances only a small proportion of the Commando force intended for this duty succeeded in landing in this area; but the men who actually landed, although too few attack the enemy coastal battery, sniped at the gunners throughout the operation, and to a certain extend succeeded in interfering with their fire. The full effect of the unfortunate encounter with the tanker ship and her escort became apparent when the Canadian attack was delivered against the beach at Puits.

Here, the Royal Regiment of Canada (Lt Col D.E. Catto), had been scheduled to land at 0450. Mainly as a result of action taken to avoid the naval engagement, this unit landed about 20 minutes late, and instead of reaching shore in the twilight hour considered most suitable for such an operation, touched down in broad daylight, while moreover the enemy garrison, who were manning formidable prepared defenses and were well provided with machine guns and mortars, had been placed on alert by the action on the sea. The consequence was that the Royal Regiment of Canada came under fire even before landing, and under very intense fire at the moment of touching the beach. Although the troops rushed to the attack with the greatest gallantry and attempted to close with the enemy, the regiment suffered extremely heavy casualties and nothing more than a temporary lodgment was obtained. The consequence of this repulse was that, in spite of continuous naval bombardment and the work of close support bombers, the heavy and light guns sited on the headland East of Dieppe and the face of the cliffs were never permanently neutralized. This considerably affected the succes of the landings on the main beach.

At Pourville, more remote from the scene of the naval engagement, a greater degree of surprise was obtained. Here, the South Saskatchewan Regiment (Lt Col C.C.I. Merritt), landed with comparatively little initial opposition and captured their first objective, taking a considerable number of prisoners and cleaning enemy positions. Subsequently, the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada (Lt Col A.G. Gostling who was killed instantly as he stepped ashore), passed through the bridgehead established by the South Saskatchewan, and, under the command of Maj A.T. Law, penetrated about 3000 meters inland on the considerable losses on the enemy. They had not reached the aerodrome, which was their objective, when they received the order to withdraw.

On the beaches fronting Dieppe itself, the attack was made on the right by the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (Lt Col R.R. Labatt), and on the left by the Essex Scottish (Lt Col F.K. Jasperon). These units were closely followed by the first wave of tank of the 14th Canadian Army Tank Battalion (Calgary Regiment)(Lt Col J.G. Andrews). Although the Dieppe defenses had been heavily engaged before the assault by the naval bombardment and the waves of Hurricane Bombers, the troops came under heavy fire from concealed posts in the two headlands to the West and East of the beaches and also from artillery sited under cover of the first line of buildings, which was able to fire directly into the assault craft as they landed. The first wave of tanks came under direct fire as soon as they came out of the landing craft, and while some immediately got on the boulevard in front of the town and penetrated further, others did not get off the beach. The intense fire to which the landing craft were subjected interfered with the Engineers’ program of assault demolitions. In certain cases the demolition stores could not be landed, and in some they were destroyed before they could be used; in others, Engineer personnel became casualties. The sea-wall, in consequence, was not breached to the extent that had been planned, and some of the tanks were unable to cross it. Despite the fact that a number of these were soon immobilized by damage, their crews continued to fight their guns with the greatest courage, engaging the batteries which were firing on the landing craft, and on the evidence of witnesses contributing to the safe withdrawal of some of the latter.

About an hour after the first landing at this point, information received indicated that the beach was sufficiently cleared to permit the landing of the floating reserve. In consequence the Fusiliers Mont-Royal (Lt Col D. Menard), were ordered to land and establish themselves on the beach and on the edge of the town of Dieppe. The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry had succeeded in capturing the Casino, which was a prominent feature on the front of the town and was strongly fortified, but the strong road blocks across the head of the street leading into Dieppe and the heavy fire brought the bear from the houses facing the Esplanade and the beach prevented further progress except by small parties of various units which penetrated for some distance at a number of points. Large numbers of the troops were unable to advance beyo, the wire obstacles on the beach, which were swept by extremely heavy fire, and the Essex Scottish in particular were exposed to heavy fire from enemy Mortars (81-MM) and suffered very numerous casualties.

At 0930, about four and a half hours after the initial landings, the enemy had brought into action a number of mobile batteries, mortars and additional infantry, and it was clear that, now, not only was the complete capture of the planned objectives was impossible but also that it had become necessary to make immediate plans for the withdrawal. The decision was accordingly made to withdraw at 1100, which necessitated abandoning the tanks which had been landed, in order to re-embark the personnel. At the same time the craft carrying the remaining tanks and troops who had not been landed, were ordered to return to England.

Full support was given by Air Force and the ships’ guns to cover the withdrawal, but by this time the enemy had organized very heavy fire on both the beaches and the sea approaches which made it practically impossible for the landing craft to approach. In addition, dive-bombers attacked the ships and craft lying off Dieppe. In spite of heavy casualties to both personnel and craft, the Navy most gallantly went in again and again to every beach until it was known that our men on the beaches in front of the town were either killed or overwhelmed, when any further efforts would have been of no avail. Every possible effort was made by the Navy to get the assault craft into the beaches. The Headquarters destroyer, among other ships, closed the beach until it almost grounded, in an attempt to support the withdrawal by fire and to pick up survivors. Similarly, on the beach at Pourville, the Cameron Highlanders and the South Saskatchewan Regiment were subjected to very heavy fire in withdrawing, and while, tanks to the untiring efforts of the Officers and NCOs and the unfailing gallantry of the Navy, a large proportion of these units was safely withdrawn, they nevertheless suffered heavily at this stage.

Back in the UK
The expedition returned to England under an umbrella of Air Force fighter cover which prevented any serious interference by enemy aircraft. In England, dispersal arrangements were most efficiently organized by the Canadian headquarters concerned, and all returning officers and men given hot food on arrival. The wounded were immediately dispatched to hospital and the remainder were returned to their unit areas.

Naval and Air Support
The splendid assistance given by the Royal Navy has already been referred to. Throughout, it was beyond praise, and there are on file statements by many members of the Canadian military forces, standing and appreciation of the manner in which the Naval forces ran all risks to assist the troops. Air cover and bombing were likewise magnificent, and drew similar warm tributes from the troops and from the Navy provided smoke to shore (where a slight offshore breeze appears to have interfered) and which greatly reduced casualties to ships and personnel. It should be noted that both Canadian sailors and Canadian airmen played a distinguished part in these operations.Considerable numbers of Canadian Naval Officers and ratings were engaged on board the Naval vessels, and numerous cases of gallantry by the are recorded. At one point, light craft ventured into extremely heavy fire to rescue men of the Royal Regiment of Canada, who were clinging to the bottom of an overturned landing craft close to the shore. One of these rescue craft was commanded by a Canadian Officer; on another a Canadian rating and an English rating sacrificed their lives in saving these soldiers. Two Army Cooperation Squadrons of the Royal Canadian Air Force attached to formation of the Canadian Overseas participated in the operation. Both did gallant work and suffered losses. Many Canadian Fighter Squadrons likewise Royal Air Force Squadrons engaged in the operations.

Conduct of the Troops
Throughout this operation the conduct of all ranks of the Canadian military forces engaged, and their determination to capture their objectives, were beyond all praise. Although they came under the heaviest from of artillery, mortar and machine gun fire, there was not the slightest hesitation on the part of anyone, and all ranks evinced a keen desire to come to grips with the enemy. Literally hundreds of documents relating to the operation have now been examined. There is no suggestion in any one of these that so much as one man of the Canadian Army failed in his duty. Where all did well, it is perhaps invidious to quote individual cases of gallantry, but two such cases are mentioned here merely as examples of the manner in which Canadian officers and men maintained the traditions of the Canadian Army and the honor of their country.

Lt Col Charles Cecil Ingersoll Merritt of the South Saskatchewan Regiment (Canada) acted with most distinguished gallantry throughout the operation. When his battalion was held up by very hot fire at the bridge on which many men had fallen, this officer walked back and forth across the bridge, waving his helmet and calling ‘See, there is no danger here’. He then led his men across and cleared the the commanding enemy positions on the other side. After many acts of bravery during the day, including personally disposing of a sniper, and organizing and leading parties for the destruction of enemy machine gun posts which were harassing his men, this most gallant officer was last seen collecting automatic weapons and organizing a defensive position to cover the withdrawal of the last parties of his unit from the beach.

Lance-Sergeant G.E. Hickson, of the 7th Field Company, Royal Canadian Engineers, was assigned to a demolition task in the town, and landed with the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry. As fire was too heavy to move directly to his objective, he attached himself to an infantry platoon, and when this Platoon’s officer and senior NCOs were put out of action, he took command and let them to the Casino. here he used an explosive charge to enter through the walls and reached a large concrete gun emplacement. He blew in the steel door of the gun emplacement with another charge , killing the gun crew, and subsequently destroyed the 150-MM coastal gun as well as two machine guns. He then re-organized the remaining men of the platoon and in the face of heavy enemy opposition led them into the town as far as the church of St Remy. Only when he found his party alone and unsupported did he withdraw it to the Casino. Subsequently he was among the last men to be evacuated from the beach.

Result of the Operation Jubilee
It is obvious from the above narrative that a great part of the limited and local objectives of the raid were not attained. The demolitions actually affected were on a much smaller scale than had been hoped for, although considerable damage was done. Prisoners were taken, however, and a great deal of information concerning enemy dispositions and methods was obtained. From the point of view of larger results of the raid, little can be said at present. The operation is still being most carefully studied with a view to extracting from it every possible lesson which will assist us in future prosecution of operations in Western Europe or elsewhere; and the value of the experience gained at Dieppe will appear only in the future course of the war. At the present time, no, public analysis of the lessons learned is possible without giving assistance to the enemy. One thing, however, can be stated with complete confidence. The organization of combined command worked out in such detail in advance of the operation functioned perfectly. In particular, the method of organizing the close support effort and the fighter cover provided by the Royal Air Force, a new method of control here employed for the first time,proved to be most satisfactory. The three services worked together in perfect co-operation, and in this respect the result of the operation has been to afford complete confidence in the effective coordination of the efforts of the three services in Combined Operations. One further special point may be made. This extensive raid compelled the enemy to concentrate air squadrons from many distant points and commit a large force to action. This gave the Royal Air Force a valuable opportunity, and in the intense air fighting over Dieppe the German air force suffered important defeat.

For the lessons learned and the advantages gained the forces engaged, and particularly the land forces, paid a very heavy price. The history of similar operations in the past serves to indicate that heavy losses are to be expected in amphibious operations of this type directed against a fortified coastline held by a determined and alert enemy. The landing operations in Gallipoli in the last war are a case in point. At Dieppe, the losses suffered were great part due to the misfortune of the chance encounter with the escorted German tanker ship, which served to warn the garrison of the defenses, and, to some extent, to disturb the time-table for the attack. The margin giving success in operations of this type is always a very narrow one, and very small circumstances are frequently sufficient to turn the balance. The Canadian units engaged in the Dieppe operation gained combat experience which will be of great value to them in future operations. The troops have returned from the operation with added confidence in themselves and, in particular, in the leadership of their officers and NCOs which throughout the operation was of the very highest order. All ranks of the units concerned, and especially those which suffered most heavily, are anxious for another opportunity of contact with the enemy which will enable then to exact from him a further reckoning for the losses which they have suffered on this occasion. The heroism both of those who fell and those who returned will be a source of future inspiration to all ranks of the Canadian Army.

For all purposes :
European Center of Military History
Gunter ‘Doc Snafu’ Gillot
rue des Thiers 8
Francorchamps 4970
Email : gunter [at]

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(NB : Published for Good – March 2019)

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