The Autumn 2012 issue of Canadian Military History features a selection of articles on the Dieppe Raid of 19 August 1942. In keeping with this important aspect of our history, this week’s video, from CBC, shows three veterans who revisited the beach — one for the first time since the raid in 1942. Although from 1992, the clip provides an almost palpable sense of the trauma and ordeals the men endured.
The first few minutes provide a contextual summary of the raid. To focus on the experiences and stories of the veterans, skip to 7:00 minutes and onwards, where three returning Canadian veterans begin by reflecting upon the raid from the positional perspective of the Germans. “Can you imagine sitting up here, looking down at an attacking force, sort of grinning to yourself? . . .” one remarks. As historians, we can hardly fathom the overwhelming feelings these veterans must have experienced when reuniting with the physical landscape from which their comrades were taken decades earlier.
Although a widely studied aspect of Canadian military history, the raid can only be fully understood when studying the accounts and hearing the words of veterans themselves. The accounts these men share — such as the sickening smell of death or the miracle that men even survived this virtual massacre — provide an exceptionally touching yet crucial understanding of the events and aftermath of the raid.