Dieppe Raid (Operation Jubilee) | World War II

Dieppe Raid (Operation Jubilee) | World War II

Overview

Through World War II, Operation Jubilee, also known as the Dieppe Attack, was an Associated amphibian attack on the German employed port of Dieppe in northern France. A naval force working under the defence of Royal Air Force (RAF) fighters landed about 6,050 infantry, primarily Canadians, supported by a regiment of tanks.

To test the possibility of a landing and acquire intelligence, the port was to be captured and held for a short time. In addition, the raid was meant to bolster Allied morale, highlight the United Kingdom's commitment to reopening the Western Front, and show support for the Soviet Union, which was fighting on the Eastern Front.

The ground troops could not achieve their goals due to insufficient aerial and naval support; tanks were stuck on the beach, and the infantry was generally blocked from approaching the town by obstacles and German fire. Increasing casualties forced a withdrawal after less than six hours. The mission was a disaster, with only one landing force achieving its goal and some intelligence obtained, notably electronic intelligence.

Within 10 hours, 3,623 of the 6,086 soldiers who had landed were dead, injured, or taken prisoner. The Luftwaffe put in a valiant effort to prevent the landing. However, the RAF lost 106 aircraft, at least 32 of which were lost to anti-aircraft fire or accidents, compared to 48 German losses. In addition, a destroyer and 33 landing craft were lost by the Royal Navy.

In terms of coastal assaults, both sides gained valuable lessons. Artificial harbours were proclaimed critical, tanks were designed expressly for beaches, a new integrated tactical air force bolstered ground support, and seizing a large port at the outset was no longer considered a priority.

Background

Dunkirk to Dieppe

Operation Rutter was born out of this. It was designed to test the possibility of taking a port with an opposed landing, investigate the challenges of controlling the invasion fleet, and test assault equipment and procedures.

The day battalions of Royal Air Force Fighter Command were a force deprived of an instant task after the victory in the Battle of Britain in 1940 and the Luftwaffe's turn to night bombing in the fall of 1940. In the spring of 1941, the RAF Fighter Command's day fighters were sent on a series of search-and-destroy missions over France to engage the Luftwaffe in combat because they had nothing else to do. As a result, the aerial offensive against France was substantially pushed up in the second half of 1941, resulting in the loss of 411 British and Canadian aircraft. The Luftwaffe began deploying the new Focke-Wulf Fw 190 fighter to its airfields in France in the spring of 1942.

The Fw 190 outperformed the British and Canadian pilots' Supermarine Spitfire Mk V and Hawker Hurricane Mk IIs, and losses over France escalated. Nevertheless, the RAF felt sure that it was winning the air war, claiming that the loss of 259 Spitfires done France in the first six months of 1942 was justified by the reported destruction of 197 German planes during the same period.

Dieppe

Dieppe was within range of the RAF's fighter planes, a significant concern for the planners. The Soviet authorities also put a lot of pressure on Western Europe to launch a second front. Operation Barbarossa, established by the Wehrmacht in early 1942, had manifestly failed to destroy the Soviet Union. On the other hand, the Germans were deep into southern Soviet territory, pressing toward Stalingrad, in a considerably less ambitious summer offensive that began in June. To release some of the pressure on the Red Army in the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin repeatedly asked that the Allies establish a second front in France to force the Germans to withdraw at least 40 divisions away from the Eastern Front.

Military planners deemed the projected Allied invasion of continental Europe in 1943, Operation Roundup, impracticable, and the alternate landing in 1942, Operation Sledgehammer, much more difficult.

Role of Louis Mountbatten

On Winston Churchill's orders, Louis Mountbatten was recalled from command of the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious while it was undergoing repairs in the United States in 1941 and appointed as the British Army's 'Adviser on Combined Operations,' replacing Admiral Roger Keyes, who had fallen out with the Chiefs of Staff and Churchill as 'Director of Combined Operations,' later to be endorsed to the post of 'Chief of Combined Operations on the 4th of March 1942. He served as both an Adviser to the Chiefs of Staff and a 'Commodore Combined Operations,' overseeing minor raids and significant operations. Mountbatten was promoted to full member of the Chiefs of Staff meetings by Churchill in 1942, with the acting ranks of vice-admiral, air marshal, and lieutenant general. In May 1942, it was decided that Combined Operations HQ would be in charge of the Dieppe raid's precise preparation.

Home Forces urged for a frontal attack because flank operations would not have the time to succeed within the 15-hour raid window. Instead, COHQ proposed flanking landings to take Dieppe in a pincer movement. Similarly, the projected assault force of marines and commandos recommended by Combined Operations was passed aside favouring untested Canadian forces.

Mountbatten was well-known for his chivalry and charisma, but he lacked combat experience. Mountbatten had already had a bad run at sea, commanding the British Navy's HMS Kelly as commander-in-chief of the 5th Destroyer Flotilla, where his performance was so poor that Denis Healey, Secretary of State for Defence at the time Mountbatten was Chief of the Army Staff in the 1960s, made a comment, "but his birth saved him from the court-martial any other officer would have faced." Despite his flaws, Mountbatten was instrumental in planning the entire operation.

Operation Rutter

Operation Rutter was designed to achieve several goals: to show support for the Soviet Union, to provide an opportunity for Canadian forces stationed in Britain to engage the German Army, and to boost morale among the British public, which included vocal supporters of a second front to provide tangible support to the Red Army. The degree of German fortification of French ports was unknown, as was how well-organised an amphibious assault might be after crossing the Channel and how a surprise element could be achieved. Rutter was a combined operation that involved RAF Bomber Command heavy bombers and Royal Navy heavy ships bombarding German defences overlooking the beaches.

Prelude

Operation Jubilee

The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry, the Essex Scottish Regiment, Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal, A Commando Royal Marines, and the armour would make their main landings on Red and White beaches. On Orange, there are four commandos. The 14th Army Tank Regiment supplied armoured assistance. The new landing craft tank will transport the Calgary Regiment with 58 newly launched Churchill tanks for the first time in action (LCT). The Churchills were a combination of sorts, adapted to operate in the shallows along the beach.

Naval Support

This was due to First Sea Lord Sir Dudley Pound's unwillingness to risk capital ships in an area he believed was vulnerable to German aircraft strikes. Mountbatten requested that Pound send a battleship to provide fire support for the Dieppe raid. Still, Pound refused because the battlecruiser HMS Repulse and the battleship Prince of Wales had been sunk by Japanese plane off the coast of Malaya in December 1941. Furthermore, he did not want to risk sending capital ships into waters where the Allies did not have air superiority.

Air Plan

The air effort was to be led by Air Vice-Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory, the commander of 11 Group Fighter Command, which included 56 fighter squadrons, including Spitfire fighters, Hurricane fighter-bombers, and Typhoon low-level interceptors. Army Cooperation Command deployed four Mustang Mk I squadrons for long-range surveillance and a contingent of five bomber squadrons for smoke laying and tactical bombing. The goal was to cut the time it took to transfer decoding of equipment from German radar, spectator posts, and fighter control to 11 Group by enlisting the help of Y's most knowledgeable officer on German Fighter Defense and its repercussions. Aboard a shared frequency, the fighter controllers on the Headquarters ships HMS Calpe and Berkeley could communicate with the raid fighter cover. As they approached the headquarters ship, the "Close Support" fighters checked in with the Fighter Controller so that they might be directed to alternate targets if necessary.

Under the pretence of "Exercise Venom," squadrons inside 11 Group were moved, and 15 divisions from outside 11 Group were reinforced on the 14th and 15th of August. On the 29th of June, Bomber Command's 2 Group received orders to transport sixteen Douglas Bostons from 88 Squadron and 107 Squadron, respectively, from their East Anglian bases to RAF Ford in West Sussex. The transfer to RAF Ford was kept, but 226 Squadron was assigned to deploy smoke screens to hamper German gunners on the high ground near Dieppe. Accordingly, 226 Squadron commenced training at Thruxton on smoke munitions, 45 kg smoke bombs, and Smoke Curtain Installations, which were to be carried in the bomb bays of some of the Bostons to take off before dawn and function deprived of fighter escort.

Intelligence

There were dug-in German gun positions on the cliffs that had not been noticed or sighted by air reconnaissance photographers, but spying on the area was scarce. The planners had scanned holiday photos to estimate the beach gradient and appropriateness for tanks, resulting in a miscalculation of German strength and terrain. Intelligence reports indicate that Dieppe is not severely fortified and that the beaches in the area are adequate for landing soldiers and armoured battle vehicles at some, according to the general plan for the unsuccessful Operation Rutter, which became the basis for Operation Jubilee.

German Forces

German forces at Dieppe were on high alert in August after French double agents told them that the British were interested in the area. The Infantry Squadrons 570, 571, and 572, each with two battalions, the 302nd Weaponry Regiment, the 302nd Investigation Battalion, the 302nd Anti-tank Battalion, the 302nd Engineer Battalion, and the 302nd Signal Battalion made up the 1,500-strong garrison of the 302nd Static Infantry Division. The Dieppe radar station close Pourville and the weaponry position above the Scie river at Varengeville were guarded by the 571st Infantry Regiment. The Infantry Regiment 570 was stationed near the artillery battery at Berneval-le-Grand to the east.

To oppose the landings, Jagdgeschwader 2 (JG2) and Jagdgeschwader 26 (JG26) had about 120 serviceable fighters, mostly Fw 190s, while Kampfgeschwader 2 had around 100 serviceable bombers and the specialist anti-shipping bombers of III./Kampfgeschwader 53, II./Kampfgeschwader 40, and I./Kampfgeschwader 77 had mostly Dornier 217

Battle

RAF Coastal Command conducted anti-surface vessel (ASV) patrols of the coast from Boulogne to Cherbourg during August 18/19; after daylight, fighters took up the patrols. The Allied fleet set out from the south coast of England late at night, preceded by minesweepers from Newhaven, clearing a passage through the English Channel and escorted by a flotilla of eight destroyers and accompanying Motor Gun Boats.

Initial Landings

The South Saskatchewan Regiment and the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada fought at Pourville (Green Beach), the Royal Regiment of Canada fought at Puys (Blue Beach), and No. 4 Commando fought at Berneval (Yellow Beach). At 03:48, the landing craft and escorts going towards Puys and Berneval collided with a small German convoy and exchanged fire. The Associated destroyers HMS Brocklesby and ORP Ślązak were alerted to the engagement, but their commanders mistook the landing boats for being under fire from the shore batteries and did not respond.

Yellow Beach

To silence the coastal battery Goebbels in Berneval, 3 Commando planned to undertake two landings 8 miles east of Dieppe. 3 Commando were not notified of a German coastal convoy approaching from the east, which had been detected by British "Chain Home" radar stations at 21:30. The LCP landing craft was sunk by German S-boats accompanying a German tanker, and the escorting Steam Gun Boat 5 was crippled. Although they could not damage the guns, their shooting managed to divert the battery's attention for a period, causing the gunners to fire aimlessly. This battery is not known to have sunk any assault convoy ships off Dieppe.

Orange Beach

Lieutenant Colonel Lord Lovat and No. 4 Commando, which included 50 US Army Rangers, were tasked with conducting two landings 6 miles west of Dieppe to neutralise the coastal battery, Hess, at Blancmesnil-Sainte-Marguerite near Varengeville. At 04:50, they landed in force on the right flank, climbed the steep slope, and attacked and neutralised their target, a six-gun artillery position. Operation Jubilee was just a partial success. After that, the commando retreated at 07:30, as planned. The majority of No. 4 made it back to England safely. This raid aspect was hailed as a blueprint for future amphibious Royal Marine Commando assaults during primary landing operations. Lord Lovat received the Distinguished Service Order for his role in the operation, while Captain Patrick Porteous, No. 4 Commando, received the Victoria Cross.

Blue Beach

The landing close Puys by the Royal Regiment of Canada, three squads from the Black Watch of Canada, and an weaponry detachment was tasked with neutralising machine gun and artillery batteries covering this Dieppe beach. The Royal Regiment of Canada was wiped out by a German bunker constructed along the back of the seawall.

Green Beach

The battalion, whose aim was the mounts east of the community and the Hindenburg Battery artillery, had to arrive Pourville to cross the river by the lone bridge because they had been landed in the wrong spot. The Germans had placed machine guns and anti-tank weapons on the bridge before the Saskatchewans could reach it, effectively stopping their assault. With the battalion's dead and injured piling up on the bridge, the commanding commander, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Merritt, attempted to give the attack a boost by crossing the bridge repeatedly and publicly to show that it was possible. However, the South Saskatchewans and the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada, who had landed alongside them, could not reach their target despite the assault being resumed. While the Camerons could advance deeper inland than any other soldiers that day, they were quickly pulled back when German reinforcements arrived. As they withdrew, both battalions sustained more casualties.

Main Canadian Landings

Four destroyers were blasting the coast as landing craft neared, preparing the ground for the main landings. Their infantry was supposed to be backed up by Churchill tanks from the 14th Army Tank Regiment, but the tanks arrived late on the beach. They incurred huge losses due to their inability to pass the obstructions and mount the seawall. Royal Hamilton Light Infantry’s Captain Denis Whitaker remembered a scene of utter chaos and confusion, with soldiers being slaughtered by German fire all along the sea wall. At the same time, his commanding officer, Colonel Bob Labatt, desperately tried to contact General Roberts using a broken radio while ignoring his men. Only 29 tanks were landed when the tanks finally arrived.

Only a limited men were able to make it to the town. Those men were then dispatched into the heart of Dieppe, where they were hemmed down by the cliffs, prompting Roberts to order the Royal Marines to land to assist them. Lieutenant Colonel Phillipps, the Royal Marine commanding officer, stood on the stern of his landing craft as soon as he became conscious of the state and signalled the rest of his men to turn back. After the tanks on board the Bert and Bill, code-named Bert and Bill, landed, Reynolds was assigned to the landing force but remained offshore. Sergeants Pittaway and Lyster were mentioned in Despatches for shooting down two German planes, and one battalion officer was killed while landing with a brigade headquarters. The evacuation from the main landing beaches began at 09:40 under heavy fire and was completed by 14:00.

Air Operations

Soon after, 14 Bostons flew to Dieppe to dump smoke bombs around the German guns on the eastern heights, dropping 150 45 lb smoke bombs at 50–70 feet over the Bismarck batteries among 05:09 and 05:44, flying through a hail of anti-aircraft fire. Six Bristol Blenheim aircraft from 13 Squadron and one from 614 Squadron dropped phosphorus bombs weighing 45 kg south of German FlaK positions. Nine of the twelve Bostons were destroyed, two of which crashed on landing, and one Blenheim smoke layer from 614 Squadron was destroyed, with the pilot injured, before crashing and exploding into flames. Before 08:00, two regiments of cannon-armed Hurricanes were instructed to target E-boats approaching from Boulogne; Spitfires were nearing the end of their range, with some only able to stay above the action area for five minutes.

As additional German planes came, the number of British planes flying over Dieppe grew from three to six squadrons, with up to nine units present at times. At Dieppe, six divisions passed the Spitfire Mk IX, the only British fighter capable of matching the Fw 190. Fighter Command flew 2,500 missions over Dieppe throughout the conflict. The attempt to centralise intelligence gathered from German radar, W/T and R/T and other broadcasts failed because the Luftwaffe operation against the landing overwhelmed the reporting system. As the Luftwaffe reaction grew, the war room at 11 Group HQ was inundated with reports.

Aftermath

Analyses

The Germans could analyse the operation after capturing the Dieppe plan. Rundstedt criticised the plan's rigidity, claiming it is more of a position statement or the anticipated course of an exercise in German terminology than a plan. Other top German officials were underwhelmed; General Konrad Haase said it was unfathomable that a division could overwhelm a German regiment supported by artillery. The naval and air forces were utterly insufficient to suppress the resistance during the landings. General Adolf-Friedrich Kuntzen couldn't understand why the Pourville landings weren't reinforced with tanks if they had succeeded in getting off the beach. The Churchill tanks that were left behind did not impress the Germans. The Luftwaffe had used up all of the 20mm cannon ammunition available in the West, to the point where there was insufficient ammunition for ordinary aircraft operations in the coming days.

Despite flaws in their own communications, transportation, and support force location, the Germans were satisfied with their effective defence. However, they recognised that the Allies would undoubtedly learn from the operation and improve the fixed protection. As the total theatre commander in the West, Rundstedt was insistent that the Germans must learn the lessons of Dieppe. He was concerned that the Germans did not miss out on Dieppe's lessons. The adversary has learned from the day of Dieppe, just as they had learned from the day of Dieppe. During the invasion, prefabricated Mulberry harbours were built and towed to beaches.

While the RAF was able to keep German planes out of the land combat and the ships, the operation proved the need for air superiority and severe flaws in RAF ground support procedures, leading to an integrated tactical air force to support the Army.

Casualties

At the loss of three of Dover's five High-Speed Launches, the RAF Air Sea Rescue Services picked up roughly 20 pilots. Gunners shot down six RAF aircraft on their side, one Typhoon was shot down by a Spitfire, two more were lost after their tails fell off due to a structural problem with early Typhoons, and two Spitfires struck during the Channel evacuation. The Germans lost 591 people, 322 of whom died, 280 were injured, and 48 planes and one patrol boat. In addition, six US Army Rangers were killed, seven were wounded, and four were captured among the 50 US Army Rangers helping in Commando battalions. Dieppe's losses were said to be a necessary evil. Later, Mountbatten justified the raid by claiming that the lessons learnt at Dieppe in 1942 were proper later in the war.

German Propaganda

Dieppe was a German publicity coup in which the Dieppe raid was presented as a military force, with the amount of time required to plan such an attack, along with the Allies' losses, pointing only to stupidity. Due to British inaction, Allied media were forced to carry announcements from German sources, enhancing the propaganda value of German news about the raid. Despite the increasing severity of the Allied strategic bombing campaign on German cities and enormous daily deaths on the Eastern Front, these endeavours were undertaken to boost German morale. Marshal Philippe Pétain of France issued a letter to the German Army congratulating them on clearing French soil of the most recent British incursion invaders.

The Air Battle

The RAF lost 106 aircraft, 88 fighters including 44 Spitfires, ten reconnaissance aircraft, and eight bombers, with 47 murdered and 17 taken detainee. The RCAF lost 14 airplanes and nine pilots, and 2 Group lost six bombers, according to Fighter Command. In light of the number of Squadrons involved and the ferocity of the battle, Leigh-Mallory thought the losses were reasonably low, observing that tactical reconnaissance suffered the most casualties, with roughly two deaths per squadron. Within days of the raid, the Luftwaffe in France was back to full strength. Even though the Allies continued to lose two aircraft for every one German aircraft destroyed for the rest of 1942, the Luftwaffe gradually lost the attrition war in the skies above France due to increased fighter production by the US, the UK, and Canada, as well as improved Allied pilot training.

Prisoners of War

On the 7th of October, the Germans reignited the debate as new information regarding the Dieppe operation surfaced, including the claim that German captives taken during the minor 4th of October raid on Sark had been tied. On the 8th of October, British and Canadian prisoners were tied in retaliation, prompting counter-retaliation. One of the explanations Hitler gave for the Commando Order of October 1942, which ordered the execution of all Allied commando captives, was alleged violations of the Geneva Convention perpetrated by Allied rangers counter to German POWs at Dieppe and Sark. 

Civilians

The Canadians distributed flyers to locals informing them that the raid was simply a raid and that they should not become involved; yet, a small number of villagers assisted the injured and later agreed clothing and food to Canadian detainees. Civilians also offered to help collect and bury the Canadian dead, including the 475 who washed up on the beach. In exchange for the town's refusal to assist in the raid, Hitler decided to release French POWs from Dieppe, and Berlin radio broadcasted the release of 750 Dieppe sons who had been imprisoned since 1940. In addition, Hitler offered the town a present of Fr 10 million to repair the damage inflicted during the attack to recognise the town's flawless discipline and serenity. However, the citizens had not had much opportunity to provide the invaders with a quick Fifth Column.

German Preparedness

The debacle has sparked debate over whether the Germans were aware of the raid ahead of time. The BBC has been sending warnings to French people of impending action since June 1942, urging them to flee the Atlantic coastal districts as soon as possible. Indeed, the BBC revealed the raid on the day of the attack, albeit at 08:00, after the landings had taken place. In addition, many Canadian veterans' firsthand accounts and memoirs documenting their experiences on the Dieppe shores remark on the German defences' preparedness, as if they were warned, that when the landing ships touched down on the Dieppe shore, the landing ships were immediately shelled with utmost precision as troops disembarked.

The commanding officer, Lt Colonel Labatt, stated that he had noticed recent marks on the beach that appeared to be used for mortar practice. Accounts of German and Allied POWs have bolstered the notion that the Germans were forewarned. Roskill's article used German documents to establish that any indications of an Allied raid on Dieppe were entirely fortuitous. Due to damage to their radio aerials during the firefight, the German convoy that collided with the Allied ships could not send messages to land.

The Enigma Pinch

Military historian David O'Keefe unearthed 100,000 pages of classified British military archive papers during a 15-year investigation that coincided with the Dieppe Raid and was overseen by Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond novels afterwards. The squeeze was developed by the Naval Intelligence Division (NID) to pass such material to cryptanalysts at Bletchley Park to help with Ultra decoding efforts. The existence of other troops landing at Dieppe, according to O'Keefe, was to deliver support and make a distraction for the commando units ordered to reach the German admiralty headquarters and capture the Enigma machine; Grove concludes that the Dieppe Raid was not, as claimed, a cover for a'snatch,' and also acknowledges that the choice to form the Intelligence Attack Units to gather intelligence material was not completed till after Operation Jubilee had been

According to the book The Secret Jewish Commandos of World War II, new evidence supports O'Keefe's claim that Dieppe was a cover for a raid on naval headquarters. German speakers were required to identify the essential code documents and, maybe, to question the captured captives. Garret discovered a previously confidential after-action report written by Maurice Latimer, the Anglicised name of the one Sudeten German who returned from the assignment, who stated that his orders were to proceed immediately to German General HQ in Dieppe to pick up all valuable documents, including, if possible, a new German respirator, almost certainly a code word referring to the Enigma machine.

Commemoration

Dieppe War Cemetery

Allied casualties were initially interred in a mass grave, but the German Army Graves Commission insisted that the bodies be reburied at a site occupied by a British hospital in Vertus Wood on the outskirts of town 1939. The headstones in the Dieppe Canadian War Cemetery are arranged in two rows, which is customary in German war cemeteries but unusual in Commonwealth War Graves Commission sites. The grave markers were replaced with conventional CWGC headstones when the Allies seized Dieppe in 1944 as part of Operation Fusilade. Still, the layout was remained unchanged to prevent disturbing the remains.

Honours and Awards

The operation received three Victoria Crosses. One to Captain Patrick Porteous, Royal Regiment of Artillery assigned to No. Both Foote and Merritt were seized and became prisoners of war. However, Foote decided to be captured rather than abandon his landing craft to tend to his fellow Canadians, now POWs.

Marcel Lambert of the 14th Army Tank Regiment was captured after fighting bravely. For his actions during the raid, Haggard of the South Saskatchewan Regiment was given the Distinguished Conduct Medal, and later field promoted to lieutenant. Sergeant David Lloyd Hart, a Canadian signalman, was awarded the Military Medal for his contributions during the operation. He died in the month of March 2019 at the age of 101 years old. US Army Ranger Corporal Frank Koons was the first American soldier to get the British Military Medal for courage in action during WWII.

Last updated: 2022-January-11
Tags: History World War II
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