3056 - 25 Aug 1944 -Aerial View of Dieppe

LCMSDS Air Photo Collection – A look at Dieppe by Mike Bechthold


Following the D-Day invasion and the breakout from Normandy, the Canadian Army was tasked to clear the Channel Ports. One of their objectives was Dieppe which the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division occupied at the end of August after it was abandoned by the Germans.   In preparation for anticipated fight for the city, new photo imagery was taken of the city and the surrounding area.  These photos would have been of great help if the Canadians had again had to fight in the city, but they are equally valuable to us today.  The Germans had reinforced the defences in the Dieppe area in the two years since the raid, but the city essentially remained as it had during the failed raid.  The following series of images show Dieppe in 1944, but they also tell us much about events two years earlier.

The main beach at Dieppe as it appeared on 25 August 1944. The Essex Scottish landed on Red Beach at the bottom of the photo while the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry landed at White Beach at the top of the photo. Visible on White Beach is the remains of the Casino.  The Germans levelled this structure after the raid to improve the defensibility of the beach.  Most of the Canadians never got off the beach, but small parties of Essex soldiers made it to the harbour while a few men of the RHLI made it into the town as far as the Church of St. Rémy (look for the church about two blocks into the town behind the Casino.  The concrete road blocks which prevented the tanks for exiting the promenade in 1942 were still present in 1944 and can be seen in this photo taken.

This air photo shows Dieppe Harbour and the East Headlands. This area was the objective of the Royal Regiment of Canada which landed at Blue Beach (Puys) which is just off the top of the photo. There objective was to capture a series of German ant-aircraft and artillery positions which threatened the main landing beach.  An extensive system of German defences consisting of anti-aircraft gun bunkers, trenches and other positions can be seen along the edge of the cliff.  Note that some of these positions were constructed after the 1942 raid.

The village of Puys was the objective of the Royal Regiment of Canada.  Their objective was to exit the beach and neutralize the German defences on the high ground between Puys and Dieppe.  This aspect of the operation was a complete failure. Over 500 men landed here and almost all of them became casualties – killed, wounded and captured.  The air photo clearly shows the problem of landing here on a narrow beach dominated by high cliffs on either side. The German defenders here only totally about a platoon (40 men) but the strength of their positions allowed them to destroy the regiment as soon as it landed.

The village of Pourville, attacked by the South Saskatchewan Regiment and Cameron Highlanders of Canada, is visible at the bottom of the photo, astride the Scie River.  Most of the objectives of the South Sasks(German gun positions and the Radar Station) were located on the east side of the river.  This created a major problem for the battalion when they were landed on the western side of the river and had to force their way across the bridge under heavy fire. Lieutenant-Colonel Cec Merritt, the commander of the South Sasks, earned his Victoria Cross in part for getting his men across the bridge.

For a detailed listing of our collection and its history click here


This article was made possible by the hard work of our staff and especially our student-volunteers. Please consider supporting our work by clicking here.

Posted by:

matt.symes

Categories

Back to Top