Dieppe August 1942 cont.2

Attack and defeat
During the evening of 18th August, the naval forces of Operation Jubilee got under way from several ports on the south coast of England. The different groups accomplished a trouble-free sea-crossing until, suddenly, several miles off the coast, the left wing flotilla, which was carrying the 3rd British Commando unit, unexpectedly ran into a small German convoy sailing from Boulogne to Dieppe. It was 3.45am. The ensuing battle completely upset the planned attack on Berneval, and alerted part of the enemy defence. Yet, a small group of commandos still managed to neutralise the battery for an hour and a half.
At 4.50am, at the other end of the operation zone, the 4th Commando got a foothold on two areas along the coast, in order to catch the battery at Varengeville in a pincer movement. It was a complete success. The battery was destroyed and the commandos re-embarked at 8.15am with scarcely any human loss. At Puys, the Royal Regiment of Canada landed at 5.06am, later than planned, and in broad daylight. The German defence was on the watch, overlooking the attackers who tried in vain to get over the high concrete wall enclosing the small beach, under heavy fire with no shelter. In less than an hour, of the 600 men who had landed, the Canadians had lost 225, those left were either wounded or made prisoner; only about sixty made it back to England. The South Saskatchewan and Cameron Highlanders landed at Pourville at 4.50am, easily invading the village. The German defence became progressively firmer and although soldiers managed to advance as far as Petit Appeville in the valley and as far as two-thirds of the way up the slopes leading to Dieppe, they could not carry any further and had to fall back late in the morning, re-embarking with heavy losses (151 dead, 266 made prisoner and 269 wounded). At 5.20am, after a too-short preliminary bombing, the first two assault waves of the Royal Hamilton and the Essex Scottish got a foothold on the beach at Dieppe. The tanks of the 14th Canadian Army Tank Regiment, which should have protected them, landed fifteen minutes later with great difficulty and could not efficiently support the foot-soldiers advancing on the exposed esplanade, where a hellfire showered them from the cliffs and the houses on the sea front. Even those who managed to reach the esplanade could not then get over the concrete walls barring every entrance to the town centre. The casino was occupied by some men from the Royal Hamilton. Several small groups even managed to get past the first rows of houses and to enter the church St Rémy.
On the east side of the beach, the men of the Essex Scottish, even more exposed, were very quickly stopped by intensive German gunfire (the troops having been defeated at Pourville and especially at Puys, the Germans had held on to their whole fire power). The Allied Command, based on the HMS Calpe, seeing nothing happening on land because of extremely thick smoke, and being badly informed because of failing transmissions, sent in fresh back-up troops, men from the Mount Royal Fusiliers and the Royal Marines Commandos.
They landed on the beach amidst great confusion with no hope whatsoever of improving an already jeopardised situation.
The murderous battle went on until the end of the morning, the order to draw back being given around 11am, to the survivors who tried to re-embark on the boats which had returned to pick them up. Of the 2.000 men who had landed, 400 were dead, and only 400 succeeded in regaining England. At about 1 pm, the battle was nearly over.


Home Up Dieppe 3

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