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Dieppe

Discussion in 'Information Requests' started by Brad T., Jan 25, 2003.

  1. Brad T.

    Brad T. Member

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    Hello:
    I thought it would be an alright topic to start, on Dieppe, heres a little what I know.

    The attack was on the French town, and area of Dieppe on 12 different beaches. The attack included 5000 Canadians 1000 Brits and 25 Americans.
    The main problem was the attack was no surprise, German inteligence knew about the attack and A German convoy picked up the invasion force in the Channel. They had virtually no naval bombardment, 6 destroyers for 12 beaches. The Air attack was a complete falure, and last Dieppe was a fortress.
    The Canadians were able to capture most beaches, despite being pinned down by guns but the Germans were better on the sky and most of the Canadian tanks were destroyed on the beach, yet the Canadians held on, Even without all those Brits landing, I read a man say "The only British we saw were the ones waving there hands for us to attack the beach", after only hours the Canadians were being pushed back to the beach, they had completed the objective of finding out how the Germans defend beaches, but it was obvious they could not hold on longer, and Canadians had taken German prisoners. After 9 hours the beaches went silent and the Canadians, and Brits, and im not sure about the Americans, went home.
    When I was at the Museum of the Regiments in Calgary there was a vetren from Dieppe, he was unable to make it back to the beach intime to catch a ride across the channel, so he dended up a POW, with him he carried handcuffs, that he was to take German prisioners with, the Germans put those handcuffs on him and didnt take them off for somthing like 2 years. I read in the paper on the 60th anniversery, Canadians saying it was "9 hours of hell, and At the end I felt guilty to be alive" Somthing like 950 Canadians died, and many more taken prisioners, any one else have any info?
     
  2. No.9

    No.9 Ace

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    Hi Brad – Dieppe is both a controversial and somewhat involved issue that remains unfinalised in certain respect today. I suggest for starters you visit http://www.vac-acc.gc.ca/general/sub.cfm?source=history/secondwar/dieppe and get more background on the engagement.

    From what you’ve posted, there were not 12 beaches and the basic plan was a frontal assault by the Canadians and British Marines with two British Commandos (including some French) dealing with batteries on the flanks. SOE also had a mission to capture documents from the town hall. The 49 new US Rangers who took part went along for the experience and were dispersed among the Commandos, with whom they had been training. First US casualty in Europe.

    Your reference to the veteran you met who spoke about handcuffs is particularly interesting, explanations anon. Do you have any contact details for him?

    No.9
     
  3. sommecourt

    sommecourt Member

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    Found some stuff on the web:


    Dieppe 1942

    Dieppe Operation ~ The Naval Action
    An Action Stations Scenario By Mark Cole


    I awakened to a stab of early morning sunlight searing my eyelids. My batman, Corporal Mino, peered through the tent flap. "Sir wake up! Admiral Mountbatten has ordered you to attend a debriefing in London two hours from now."

    I sat up groggily. Christ, I was a mess. I was still wearing my battledress, filthy, streaked in grime and dried blood.

    "They said you were the only officer of the whole brigade who came back from the beaches. You're all that's left."

    Captain Denis Whitaker, Royal Hamilton Light Infantry


    Introduction

    August 19th 1942 was a date that many Canadians would never forget . on that day, three thousand Canadian infantry troops (out of an initial total of five thousand) were killed, wounded or taken prisoner on the beaches of Dieppe on the French coast. The Royal Navy lost boats and personnel, the RAF and RCAF had one hundred and eight planes shot down with sixty pilots lost. The Allies had raided a heavily fortified port and had paid the price, a heavy price.

    In 1942, Aldof Hitler and his armed forces held most of Europe and was probing deep into Russia. Stalin called on his allies to open a second front.

    The allies knew that if they were to liberate France than they would need a port, logistics is what wins wars, not necessarily better weapons The Dieppe raid was conceived as a precursor to a larger landing in France at some later date.

    Many lessons were learnt on that day, but just under two years later on the 6th June 1944, the allies landed on the beaches of Normandy, D-Day was the beginning of the end of the Nazi occupation of Europe. D-Day saw the use of "funnies", tanks specially designed to overcome beach obstacles, mulberry harbours and a wide range of other new equipment.


    http://www.felixent.force9.co.uk/art11.html
     
  4. sommecourt

    sommecourt Member

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    And:

    The Raid on Dieppe: August 19, 1942

    The Allied situation in the spring of 1942 was grim. The Germans had penetrated deep into Russia, the British Eighth Army in North Africa had been forced back into Egypt, and in Western Europe the Allied forces faced the Germans across the English Channel.
    Since the time was not yet ripe for mounting Operation Overlord, the full-scale invasion of Western Europe, the Allies decided to mount a major raid on the French port of Dieppe. Designed to foster German fears of an attack in the west and compel them to strengthen their Channel defences at the expense of other areas of operation, the raid would also provide an opportunity to test new techniques and equipment, and be the means to gain the experience and knowledge necessary for planning the great amphibious assault.

    Accordingly, plans were drawn up for a large-scale raid to take place in July 1942. It was called Operation Rutter. Canadians would provide the main assault force, and by May 20 troops of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division were on the Isle of Wight to begin intensive training in amphibious operations. When unfavourable weather in July prevented Rutter from being launched, it was urged that the idea of a raid should be abandoned. However, the operation was revived and given the new code name Jubilee. The port of Dieppe on the French coast remained the objective.

    The attack upon Dieppe took place on August 19, 1942. The troops involved totaled 6,100 of whom roughly 5,000 were Canadians, the remainder being British Commandos and 50 American Rangers. The raid was supported by eight Allied destroyers and 74 Allied air squadrons (eight belonging to the RCAF). Major General J.H. Roberts, the Commander of the 2nd Canadian Division, was appointed Military Force Commander, with Captain J. Hughes-Hallett, R.N. as Naval Force Commander and Air Vice Marshal T.L. Leigh-Mallory as Air Force Commander.

    The plan called for attacks at five different points on a front of roughly 16 kilometres. Four simultaneous flank attacks were to go in just before dawn, followed half an hour later by the main attack on the town of Dieppe itself. Canadians would form the force for the frontal attack on Dieppe and would also go in at gaps in the cliffs at Pourville four kilometres to the west, and at Puys to the east. British commandos were assigned to destroy the coastal batteries at Berneval on the eastern flank, and at Varengeville in the west.

    As the assault force approached the coast of France in the early hours of August 19, the landing craft of the eastern sector unexpectedly encountered a small German convoy. The noise of the sharp violent sea fight which followed alerted coastal defences, particularly at Berneval and Puys, leaving little chance of success in this sector. The craft carrying No. 3 Commando were scattered and most of the unit never reached shore. Those who did were quickly overwhelmed. One small party of 20 commandos managed to get within 180 metres of the battery and by accurate sniping prevented the guns from firing on the assault ships for two-and-one-half vital hours before they were safely evacuated.

    At Puys the Royal Regiment of Canada shared in the ill-fortune. The beach there was extremely narrow and was commanded by lofty cliffs where German soldiers were strategically placed. Success depended on surprise and darkness, neither of which prevailed. The naval landing was delayed, and as the Royals leapt ashore in the growing light they met violent machine-gun fire from the fully-alerted German soldiers. Only a few men were able to get over the heavily wired seawall at the head of the beach; those who did were unable to get back. The rest of the troops, together with three platoons of reinforcements from the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada, were pinned on the beach by mortar and machine-gun fire, and were later forced to surrender. Evacuation was impossible in the face of German fire. Of those who landed, 200 were killed and 20 died later of their wounds; the rest were taken prisoner the heaviest toll suffered by a Canadian battalion in a single day throughout the entire war. Failure to clear the eastern headland enabled the Germans to enfilade the Dieppe beaches and nullify the main frontal attack.

    In the western sector, meanwhile, some degree of surprise was achieved. In contrast to the misfortune encountered by No. 3 on the east flank, the No. 4 Commando operation was completely successful. According to plan, the unit went in, successfully destroyed the guns in the battery near Varengeville, and then withdrew safely.

    At Pourville, the Canadians were fortunate enough to achieve some degree of surprise, and initial opposition was light as the South Saskatchewan Regiment and Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada assaulted the beaches. Resistance stiffened as they crossed the River Scie and pushed towards Dieppe proper. Heavy fighting then developed and the Saskatchewans, and the Camerons who supported them, were stopped well short of the town. The main force of the Camerons, meanwhile, pushed on towards their objective, an inland airfield, and advanced some three kilometres before they too were forced to halt.

    The Canadians lost heavily during the withdrawal. The enemy was able to bring fierce fire to bear upon the beach from dominating positions east of Pourville, and also from the high ground to the west. However, the landing craft came in through the storm of fire with self-sacrificing gallantry and, supported by a courageous rearguard, the greater part of both units successfully re-embarked though many of the men were wounded. The rearguard itself could not be brought off and, when ammunition ran out and further evacuation was impossible, surrendered.

    The main attack was to be made across the pebble beach in front of Dieppe and timed to take place a half-hour later than on the flanks. German soldiers, concealed in clifftop positions and in buildings overlooking the promenade, waited. As the men of the Essex Scottish Regiment assaulted the open eastern section, the enemy swept the beach with machine-gun fire. All attempts to breach the seawall were beaten back with grievous loss. When one small party managed to infiltrate the town, a misleading message was received aboard the headquarters ship which suggested that the Essex Scottish were making headway. Thus, the reserve battalion Les Fusiliers Mont Royal was sent in. They, like their comrades who had landed earlier, found themselves pinned down on the beach and exposed to intense enemy fire.

    The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry landed at the west end of the promenade opposite a large isolated casino. They were able to clear this strongly-held building and the nearby pillboxes and some men of the battalion got across the bullet-swept boulevard and into the town, where they were engaged in vicious street fighting.

    Misfortune also attended the landing of the tanks of the Calgary Regiment. Timed to follow an air and naval bombardment, they were put ashore ten to fifteen minutes late, thus leaving the infantry without support during the first critical minutes of the attack. Then as the tanks came ashore, they met an inferno of fire and were brought to a halt stopped not only by enemy guns, but also immobilized by the shingle banks and seawall. Those that negotiated the seawall found their way blocked by concrete obstacles which sealed off the narrow streets. Nevertheless, the immobilized tanks continued to fight, supporting the infantry and contributing greatly to the withdrawal of many of them; the tank crews became prisoners or died in battle.

    The last troops to land were part of the Royal Marine "A" Commando, which shared the terrible fate of the Canadians. They suffered heavy losses without being able to accomplish their mission.

    The raid also produced a tremendous air battle. While the Allied air forces were able to provide protection from the Luftwaffe for the ships off Dieppe, the cost was high. The Royal Air Force lost 106 aircraft which was to be the highest single-day total of the war. The RCAF loss was 13 aircraft.

    By early afternoon, Operation Jubilee was over. Conflicting assessments of the value of the raid continue to be presented. Some claim that it was a useless slaughter; others maintain that it was necessary to the successful invasion of the continent two years later on D-Day. The Dieppe Raid was closely studied by those responsible for planning future operations against the enemy-held coast of France. Out of it came improvements in technique, fire support and tactics which reduced D-Day casualties to an unexpected minimum. The men who perished at Dieppe were instrumental in saving countless lives on the 6th of June, 1944. While there can be no doubt that valuable lessons were learned, a frightful price was paid in those morning hours of August 19, 1942. Of the 4,963 Canadians who embarked for the operation only 2,210 returned to England, and many of these were wounded. There were 3,367 casualties, including 1,946 prisoners of war; 907 Canadians lost their lives.

    http://www.geocities.com/Pentagon/Quarters/1695/Text/dieppe.html
     
  5. sommecourt

    sommecourt Member

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  6. Mark V.

    Mark V. Member

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    What happend to the German prisoners?
     
  7. Major Destruction

    Major Destruction Member

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    None of the Churchill tanks were penetrated by enemy fire.
    None of the tank crews who remained inside their tanks were wounded or killed. They were captured.

    The German defenders did not have any anti-tank guns capable of destroying the Churchills aimed at the beach since they believed that the beach was not suitable for a tank attack. They were only partly right.

    Several Churchills managed to cross the beach and drive onto the esplanade but were unable to enter the town because the streets were blocked by concrete anti-tank barriers. The Churchill tanks did not carry weapons with enough HE capability to demolish those barriers, therefore they drove back onto the beach to provide covering fire for the withdrawal of troops.

    There is one photograph of one of the Churchills showing multiple armour penetrations. These penetrations were made after the battle during tests of German AT weapons.
     
  8. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    What happend to the German prisoners? </font>[/QUOTE]I have a superb book on the Dieppe operation Im off now to get it down, back later, but as to Germman prisoners, some were actrually taken back across the channel to England.

    3 interesting things here on this mission is the way Mountbatten chose some of the guys to play a leadng role in the mission.

    Also the story of the RAF technical sgt given a commando bodyguard in his mission to take details of German radar in the area with orders to kill himm rather than let him fall prisoner.

    And 3rd..The role Canada demanded and got in the eventual liberation of Dieppe after the European invasion.
     
  9. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Ronald Atkin....Dieppe 1942.

    There is also a good book written about the RAF tech sgt which inculdes a personal view of the actions which took him with one of he commmando to an air raid station. Off hand I think the book is called Green beach. And gives an interestng personal perspective.

    Mountbatten: Dieppe gave the allies the precious secret of victory. If I had a the same decision to make again, I would do as I did before.

    Bet he wouldnt say that to many of the Canadians in the bars in England at that time.
     
  10. Brad T.

    Brad T. Member

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    The attack was the Canadian 2nd Division, involved alot of the 5th Brigade, which was my grandfathers brigade, although he did not touch down.
    The man who was a prisoner hardly had those handcuffs taken off. About a year later though they found out the tab, or somthing off the Spam can they were given took off the handcuffs, so they would carry this tab, and at night, take off the handcuffs then next morning they could put them back on, to hide the secret from the German Soildiers. He was from the Calgary Tanks Regiment I believe. He has a Canadian government issued pin or medal, which are little medal handcuffs.
    The German Prisioners did go across the channel, they were picked up rushed to assult craft, then brought to England.
     
  11. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

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    Only 25 Americans? Were we along just for the ride?

    I guess it was used as a teaching tool for future beach landings. A trial by error thing?
     
  12. No.9

    No.9 Ace

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    No.3 Commando were to attack gun emplacements west of Dieppe and No.4 Commando emplacements to the east. Of the 23 landing craft of No.3 Commando under John Durnford-Slater that approached the beach, only 5 got men ashore, (the role of the Commandos was originally assigned to Paratroops). 4 boatloads became quickly pinned down in a gully by machine-gun and mortar fire and were subsequently dive-bombed.

    Among this party, Ranger Lt. Loustalot was killed. The Rangers had been training with the Commandos and asked to accompany the raid. 49 were taken along and dispersed among the Commandos.

    The landing craft were unsuccessful in attempts to evacuate the men and only one managed to swim out and reach them. Others who survived were all wounded and taken prisoner.

    The only Commandos to assault their target were 18 men under Peter Young whose craft landed further west. Unable to destroy the guns they kept its 200 associated personnel occupied and prevented the battery firing on the main Dieppe anchorage. This party eventually evacuated and returned.

    With No.3 and No.4 were 13 men of the French Troops No.10 (IA) and 5 men of X Troop No.10 (IA). 6 Men of the SOE’s Small Scale Raiding Force escorted 3 SOE agents and a radar expert to search and seize the Town Hall for documents. Landing centrally with the Canadians were the new Royal Marine Commandos which went on to be re-termed No.40 Commando (RM).

    Commando casualties were: No.3 - 117 of 420; No.4 - 45 of 265; No.10 - 6 of 18, Royal Marines – 76 of 370; Rangers – 13 of 49; SSRF – ‘?’ of 6 and SOE – ‘?’ of 3.

    No.9
     
  13. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Jubilee included a main contingent of Canadian assisted by British, French and fifty U.S. Army Rangers, the first American troops to land in Europe since World War I. Objectives were to destroy enemy installations (including the inland airfield at St. Aubin), capture Germans for interrogation, steal documents, bring back moored enemy invasion barges, release French prisoners, and tackle the Freya site atop its 100 metre high cliff.

    The unit assaulting the Freya site would have to include a radar expert. The twenty-four-year-old Flight Sgt. Jack Maurice Nissenthall Royal Air Force. Nissenthall had volunteered for "special missions in which my expertise would be of value," was chosen for the work.. An electronics specialist, Nissenthall was a cockney from London's East End. He was the son of a Polish Jewish tailor who had arrived in Britain 1912.

    Jack Nissenthall knew British radar secrets that had to be kept from the Germans, the printed orders received by officers in charge of the Freya assault team stated that the "RDF (radio direction finder) expert must under no circumstances fall into enemy hands." 10 riflemen of Company A of the Canadian 2nd Division's South Saskatchewan Regiment were to provide security for Nissenthall. If RAF sergeant Nissenthall was in danger of being captured by the enemy he was to be killed.
     
  14. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    The South Saskatchewan Regiment's ploughed shoreward on the left flank of the westernmost Commando group. Objective? Green Beach, at Pourville! RAF sergeant Jack Nissenthall--nicknamed "Spook" was with the Canadians Nissenthall was armed only with a revolver. He carried a blue RAF haversack crammed with hand tools.

    Intense hostile fire began shortly after the Canadians were spit onto Green Beach.

    Company A was to dash up the cliff slope to attack the radar site while Company C held the village. Companies B and D were to move inland and block enemy reinforcements. One more Canadian unit, the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders, was to go inland attacking the St. Aubin airfield 5 kilometres away.

    Nissenthall and his bodyguards crossed the rocky beach in early light to the protection of a sea wall topped with barbed wire, when they reached that position they become conscious the navy had deposited them nearly 500 metres too far to the west. They were not at the base of the Freya cliff on the other side of Pourville, Company A was in front of the German-occupied village. Using scaling ladders, they climbed over the 8-foot-high sea wall, and crossed an open esplanade advancing into Pourville.
     
  15. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Nissenthall and his bodyguards followed the advance, running between a stone church and a hotel to cross the bloody body plagued bridge. Only a quarter of Company A's original 100 were left. Nissenthall's guards were down to seven, three of whom were wounded but mobile. The RAF sergeant recalled being momentarily deafened when "one of the men carrying a backpack of mortar shells was hit and blown to pieces by his own shells" only 6 metres away. Using smoke canisters and ferreting out what little cover they, the last of A Company stopped just below the cliff top.

    On their left a sheer white cliff, a rock and shingle beach below, ahead the coveted Freya. Barbed wire, riflemen in slit trenches and machine-gun nests stood between the invaders and the objective. The company commander turned to Nissenthall and said: "Well, there it is. Take it if you want it."
     
  16. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Nissenthall disembarked at Newhaven late that 19August night. The next morning he purchased a ticket and took commuter train to London. There, he reported to the Air Ministry building for a full debriefing. In his own words, "dirty, dishevelled and unshaven". Nissenthall. Had not been able to examine the Freya firsthand and return with its innards, he had, however in severing the telephone lines had provided the Allies with priceless information. The British listening to the temporarily open German radio plotting that directed Luftwaffe interceptors, learned much about both enemy aircraft control methods and the performance of the key Freya radar. One result was the creation of suitable jamming equipment, a task assigned to Nissenthall.

    Years after the war's end, the Company A commander, who had been captured at Pourville, met Nissen. They spoke of Dieppe the former captain told Nissen that he had found the order he had received regarding his "spook" so repulsive that he had put it out of his mind for 20 years and then questioned if it had been a figment of his imagination. "Could you, would you have shot me?" asked Nissen.

    The Canadian's quietly spoken unadorned answer, plain and simple, hung in the thickening air between the two men,

    "Yes"

    Abridged....much too much to put on here...
     
  17. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Great Stuff, Guys!

    Learning all the time... ;)

    Anyway, I think one of the most important things they learned was this ( said many times, I guess..):

    http://www.nwha.org/news_2Q2002/news_page5.html

    Perhaps the greatest lesson of Dieppe was the shelving of the notion that the invasion, when it occurred, would be a direct or flanking attack on a large port. "Dieppe killed the ... idea of a frontal attack on a major fortified port, and ... produced grave doubts to the possibility of the immediate acquisition of such a port by an assaulting force." In the fall of 1942 "History attributes this decision to Captain Hughes-Hallett and/or Churchill."

    --------

    Anyway, that´s why they made those artificial bridges for Overlord to get the supplies and in the end that was the winning choice even though a great storm almost destroyed them all..

    British 'Mulberry' harbour project of two artificial harbours and five 'Gooseberry' breakwaters including:

    400 'Mulberry' units totalling 1.5 million tons and including up to 6,000-ton 'Phoenix' concrete breakwaters;

    160 tugs for towing;

    59 old merchantmen and warships to be sunk as blockships for the 'Gooseberries'. All are in place by the 10th June.

    http://www.naval-history.net/WW2CampaignsNormandy.htm


    --------------

    Dieppe

    [​IMG]

    Dieppe Beach after the raid of 19 August 1942. German photographers had a field day photographing the litter and wreckage; these photos (in black and white) quickly became the subject of propaganda leaflets dropped over England. This colour shot gives a good view of the insignia of the Calgary Regiment. Note the rusty colour of the tank tracks and exhaust extensions (these enabled the tank to wade into the beach through deep water).

    [​IMG]

    Dieppe: Main beach

    [​IMG]

    “Disembarked in dreadful conditions on the beach in Puys, I went through the most dramatic part of this day. Within two or three hours, the Royal Regiment of Toronto suffered the greatest loss of men among all the Jubilee units (of the 554 men disembarked, 225 were killed, 147 were wounded and 280 were taken prisoner). Only 64 men managed coming back to England”.
    Joseph Ryan, Royal Regiment of Canada


    [​IMG]


    http://www.axisandallies.net/public/Herr_Havoc/history_1.html


    http://members.shaw.ca/calgaryhighlanders/dieppe.htm
     
  18. No.9

    No.9 Ace

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    The pics are good but their size just makes a mess of the browser frame after they eventually load! I think it illustrates the case for being able to post gifs insted of links, which the poster can resize or crop?

    No.9
     
  19. Brad T.

    Brad T. Member

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    Hey:
    Thanks for that Addy to the Calgary Highlanders, that was my grandpa's battalion, anthough he was not in Dieppe.
    Man that pic pisses me off though, the one with the German on the beach with about 20 dead allies on the beach.
     
  20. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Did some digging on Dieppe and propaganda and found this site on Canadian army and films on WW2.Maybe something to get later on...

    http://www.csc.ca/news/default.asp?aID=749

    "So what else is in the Canadian feature cupboard? The 1941 Oscar-nominated 49th Parallel, starring Canadian Raymond Massey and Laurence Olivier as a hammy Lucky Pierre, was a picture of wartime intrigue set in Canada, but it was British produced as a propaganda attempt, at least in part, to get the United States to enter the war. There were a couple of U.S. films made before Pearl Harbor that put American stars like Tyrone Power (A Yank in the RAF, 1941) in Canadian uniforms overseas, while British actor Richard Greene starred in the 1942 U.K. feature Flying Fortress as a Canadian who becomes a hero of bombing missions over Berlin.

    The National Film Board, Canada’s propagandist and visual guardian throughout World War II, is still the country’s biggest repository of war footage and producer of war documentaries. The 13-part, 1994 series Canada at War (320 min 40 sec), one of the NFB’s most ambitious documentary projects ever, was culled from over 16 million feet of film shot by Canadian, British, American, German and Russian cameramen, and powerfully details Canada’s efforts during World War II in relation to the overall Allied strategy. From the battlefronts abroad to the civilian fronts at home, each half-hour program represents a six-month journey through Canada’s complete World War II history.

    Part 9 of Canada at War, “The Norman Summer,” is Canada’s documentary version of Saving Private Ryan, covering Canadian action in France from June through September of 1944. These images are real. “In early morning hours of D-Day, June 6, 1944,” says the NFB’s film description, “infantry carriers, including 110 ships of the Royal Canadian Navy, cross a seething, pitching sea to the coast of France while Allied air forces pound enemy positions from the air. Cherbourg, Caen, Carpiquet, Falaise, Paris are liberated. Canadians return, this time victorious, to the beaches of Dieppe.”

    In our November, 1994, issue, we carried the story of a remarkable 20 seconds of film that “shows the backs of helmeted soldiers crouching in an assault landing craft as it nears the beach. As the front ramp opens to disgorge the assault troops, a large building is recognizable that clearly marks it as the beach at Bernieres-sur-Mer. The troops are The Queen’s Own Rifles of Toronto.”

    The story of this famous D-Day film clip was told by retired Lt.-Col. Ken Bell of Gibsons, B.C., a young lieutenant who went ashore with a standard-lens Rolleiflex after the first assault waves. Bell said credit for the front-line cinematography goes to Capt. Colin McDougall of the Canadian Film and Photo Unit, who came up with an ingenious way of overcoming the fact that there was no way to fit movie and stills photographers in a landing craft.

    COMING SOON: In January, l992, Canadians were presented with the “truth” about the nation’s involvement in World War II. The television series The Valour and the Horror presented three two-hour films that combined investigative journalism, drama and documentary to tell the “unvarnished” story of three World War II campaigns: A Savage Christmas: Hong Kong l94l, Death by Moonlight: Bomber Command, and In Desperate Battle: Normandy l944.

    Another dramatic, small-screen look at the anguish and the follies of war was the 1993 TV movie Dieppe, which tells a frightening tale of military bravery and callous stupidity—green Canadian troops ordered to mount a virtual suicide attack on the Nazi-occupied, French seaside town of Dieppe. More than 900 were killed. Hundreds more were taken prisoner. Earlier, the CBC’s two-part series Dieppe 1942 aired in 1979 with NFB, British, French and German footage, and interviews with veterans and witnesses.
     

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