On August 19, 1942, Operation Jubilee (now known as the Dieppe Raid) was launched on the beaches of the Dieppe region. The obejctive was to create a breach in German defense, gain a temporary hold over a major port and set the stage for a major assault on northwestern Europe in 1944. Today, the Dieppe Memorial, which was built in 2002, honours the Canadian and British troops who lost their lives during the raid, as well as those who survived the battle. Moving beach by beach, it documents the events that unfolded over the course of the raid.
On the Puys, Berneval, Varengeville, Pourville and Dieppe beaches, the raid sadly failed to achieve virtually all of its aforementioned objectives. The Canadian troops implicated suffered mass casualties, losing over 900 men (of the roughly 6,000 Canadian and British troops that arrived ashore) in just 9 hours.
Puys beach to the east of Dieppe holds particularly painful memories, as 231 of the 550 Canadian soldiers who landed here would lose their lives while many others were taken as prisoners.
A tribute to Operation Jubilee can be found in an Italian-style theatre built in central Dieppe in 1826, composed of documents, objects, and models of the events in honour of the soldiers, marines and pilots who participated in the raid. Screenings of a film about the operation immerses visitors in this somber hour in history, particularly for Canada: the battle of Dieppe marked the Canadian forces' single largest loss of life in a day-long battle.
The city is also home to the Canadian Dieppe War Cemetery, an unusual burial place in that it was created by the occupying Germans as the Allied forces were forced to retreat, leaving their casualties behind on enemy soil. The Dieppe Canadian War Cemetery is located approximately five kilometres south of Dieppe, in the town of Hautot-sur-Mer, and holds the tombs of 955 soldiers.
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