Ottawa, ON – When the Allies crossed the English Channel to attack the town of Dieppe, France, on 19 August 1942, nearly 5,000 of the 6,100 Allied troops taking part in the operation were Canadians. Tragically, it would turn out to be the single bloodiest day of the entire Second World War for Canada.
Thinking they would have the element of surprise on their side, the Allies attacked at five different points along the coast of occupied France. They expected to fight their way into Dieppe. Instead, they were met by heavy enemy fire, and suffered terrible losses on both the eastern and western flanks, as well as in the main attack on the town. Among the Canadians, only about 2,200 made it back to England, many of them wounded; close to 1,950 of our soldiers became prisoners of war; and more than 900 gave their lives.
It was a steep price to pay for what would be characterized as a failed operation. Still, the costly defeat yielded valuable lessons that were later applied when the Allies successfully returned to the shores of France in Normandy on D-Day in June 1944.
The Canadians who fought in the Dieppe Raid sacrificed much in their efforts to help bring peace and freedom to the people of Europe. On this 80th anniversary of their assault on Dieppe, we remember them and the more than one million men and women from Canada who served during the Second World War.
“It’s been 80 years since the Dieppe Raid. Hundreds of Canadian troops gave their lives and nearly 2,000 spent the rest of the war as prisoners in German camps. All these years later, we remember them for the courage they displayed that day and the important role they and the hundreds of thousands of other Canadians played to help free the people of Western Europe from tyranny and oppression during the Second World War.”
The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence
“The Dieppe Raid would ultimately be our nation’s bloodiest day of the Second World War. While it was a day of devastating loss, it was also one of tremendous courage, strength, and resilience-a poignant reminder that our finest moments are often about meeting challenges, rather than easy victories. We remember and honour the Canadians who served and sacrificed at Dieppe, and throughout the Second World War, both at home and overseas. Lest we forget.”
The Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of National Defence