David Hall is a Senior Lecturer in the Defence Studies Department, King’s College London, based at the Joint Services Command and Staff College, Shrivenham, United Kingdom. He has a D.Phil. in modern history from the University of Oxford, and he has published on a number of air power and Second World War topics in Canada, the UK, and the USA. His current research is on ‘Hitler and Wagner: Nationalism, Romanticism, and the short march to war from the Meistersingers’ Meadow’, a study of the Bayreuth Festival during the Third Reich, which has been generously funded by the British Academy
The ill-fated Dieppe Raid – an amphibious assault against the German occupied French port town of Dieppe in Normandy on 19 August 1942 – was, in the words of AOC-in-C Fighter Command, Air Marshal Sir Sholto Douglas, one of ‘the most tragic and costly disasters in the annals of war.’ It was Canada’s first major combat operation in the European theatre during the Second World War, and everything that could have gone wrong did. By the end of the day’s action the 2nd Canadian Division ceased to exist as a fighting formation. Questions on the reasons for the debacle were asked in Parliament, in Ottawa and in London, and numerous officers in both the British and the Canadian armed forces spent many weeks poring over the evidence to determine why the raid failed and what lessons could be learnt for future operations. These same questions and many others have been the subject of much study by Canadian military historians. The Dieppe Raid also continues to command media attention and public interest in Canada to this day. But how was the raid viewed in Germany in late August and September 1942? How was it portrayed in the Nazi controlled media? What did Hitler, the Wehrmacht, and the German public think of the raid and its outcome? Very little has been written about the German view of the raid. This talk aims to redress the imbalance in the historiography on the Dieppe Raid, and to highlight its significance in German strategic thinking in the summer of 1942.