Dieppe

The se­cret pur­pose be­hind this dis­as­trous Sec­ond World War raid.

Canada's History - - CONTENTS - By David O’Keefe.

Seventy-five years after the dis­as­trous raid on the French port of Dieppe, the real pur­pose of the op­er­a­tion is re­vealed.

No amount of his­tor­i­cal re­search, dis­cov­ery or in­ter­pre­ta­tion will change the grisly facts about the raid on the French chan­nel port of Dieppe seventy-five years ago. In just six hours, over a thou­sand Al­lied (mostly Cana­dian) sol­diers, sailors, and air­men paid the ul­ti­mate price on Au­gust 19, 1942. About twenty-three hun­dred oth­ers be­came pris­on­ers of war, while scores of tanks and land­ing craft were burned and aban­doned along the chert rock beach. What Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Win­ston Churchill cav­a­lierly re­ferred to as a “butcher and bolt” raid had ended in un­prece­dented hor­ror, bit­ter­ness, and re­crim­i­na­tion that was ruth­lessly ex­ploited by Nazi pro­pa­ganda. It was a black eye for the Al­lied cause at this crit­i­cal junc­ture in the war and a dis­as­ter for­ever en­sconced in Cana­dian mem­ory and psy­che.

Many rea­sons have been given for why the raid was launched, but re­cently de­clas­si­fied doc­u­ments have shown that at its heart it was a “pinch” (Bri­tish slang for “steal”) op­er­a­tion de­signed to cap­ture cryp­to­graphic ma­te­rial for code break­ers like Alan Tur­ing, Peter Twinn, and their col­leagues at the Bri­tish code-break­ing cen­tre at Bletch­ley Park in Eng­land. Dieppe was the fifth in a se­ries of am­phibi­ous raids or­ches­trated to cap­ture the highly sen­si­tive ma­te­rial.

When these raids be­gan in 1941, the Bri­tish Em­pire faced the Nazi threat alone. Its sur­vival lay in the pro­tec­tion of the sea

lanes that were un­der siege by Ger­man U-boats and sur­face ves­sels. Sig­nals in­tel­li­gence — specif­i­cally cryp­tog­ra­phy (the abil­ity to break into and read the en­emy’s en­ci­phered com­mu­ni­ca­tions) — rose to the fore­front as a weapon. The abil­ity to tap into Ger­man mes­sages pro­vided cru­cial in­for­ma­tion about en­emy po­si­tions, plans, ca­pa­bil­i­ties, tech­nolo­gies, and in­ten­tions, per­mit­ting the Al­lies to al­lo­cate scarce re­sources in a cal­cu­lated fash­ion. The most sen­si­tive in­tel­li­gence came from Bletch­ley Park and was clas­si­fied “Ul­tra Se­cret.”

The Bri­tish Royal Navy, along with Com­bined Op­er­a­tions Head­quar­ters, de­vel­oped a pinch doc­trine — a sys­tem­atic ap­proach or play­book — to seize en­emy ci­pher ma­te­rial, such as code books, ci­pher ta­bles, and even the famed Ger­man Enigma ci­pher ma­chine it­self.

Three forms of pinch op­er­a­tions emerged. The first, known as “pinch by chance,” was the in­ci­den­tal dis­cov­ery of use­ful ma­te­rial dur­ing an ac­tion at sea or on land. The sec­ond, “pinch by op­por­tu­nity,” called for a spe­cial force to be ready to take ad­van­tage of con­di­tions cre­ated by an on­go­ing op­er­a­tion. The third was “pinch by de­sign.” In this sce­nario an op­er­a­tion was laid on specif­i­cally to cap­ture the pre­cious ci­pher ma­te­rial.

The key to suc­cess lay in a multi-faceted ap­proach un­der­scored by three in­tri­cate pil­lars of suc­cess — namely, sur­prise, shock, and se­cu­rity. Sur­prise was para­mount to re­duce the odds that the en­emy would de­stroy the ma­te­rial be­fore it could be snatched. All pinch op­er­a­tions were un­der­lined by this pri­mary need, even if this meant nor­mal lev­els of tac­ti­cal com­mon sense fell short.

The sec­ond pil­lar, shock, meant a thun­der­clap of fire­power de­signed to rat­tle, pin, kill, or in­ca­pac­i­tate. In this case, fire­power had to be sud­den and sup­pres­sive, rather than de­struc­tive — oth­er­wise the ma­te­rial be­ing sought after could be lost.

Fi­nally, the pil­lar of se­cu­rity was needed to hide the real pur­pose of the raid. This was a twofold process. First, to pla­cate Ger­man sus­pi­cion, any en­emy ves­sels or fa­cil­i­ties that were seized were to be re­ported as sunk or de­stroyed. Sec­ond, the raid it­self was to be de­signed to look noth­ing like a pinch op­er­a­tion. Rather in­ge­niously, the Bri­tish uti­lized the con­cept of dis­pro­por­tion­ate force al­lo­ca­tion to give the ap­pear­ance of an ortho­dox op­er­a­tion in or­der to con­fuse and de­flect from the true in­tent — some­thing Ad­mi­ral John God­frey, the head of the Royal Navy’s Naval In­tel­li­gence Divi­sion, re­ferred to as “crack­ing a nut with a steam ham­mer.” In the­ory, this rea­son­ing was sound: No en­emy would ever sus­pect that the de­vo­tion of such large amounts of re­sources was merely a cover.

The first pinch by de­sign, in the Lo­foten Is­lands of Nor­way in March 1941, met with un­prece­dented suc­cess. Ma­te­rial seized in­stantly lifted the daunt­ing cryp­to­graphic black­out plagu­ing Bletch­ley Park and changed the bal­ance in the Bat­tle of the At­lantic to­wards the Al­lied cause. Un­til then, the code break­ers had been stymied by the daunt­ing three­ro­tor ver­sion of the naval Enigma ma­chine. Then, Bri­tish army com­man­dos, sup­ported by board­ing par­ties from the Royal Navy, swarmed into the har­bour, stormed ashore, and plun­dered Ger­man trawlers, the lo­cal naval head­quar­ters, and a com­mu­ni­ca­tions sup­ply de­pot. Press re­ports de­scribed the “sink­ing” of cap­tured ves­sels and the large-scale de­struc­tion of shore fa­cil­i­ties — pro­pa­ganda skil­fully cal­cu­lated to thrill the public and to off­set Ger­man worry about the cap­ture of ci­pher ma­te­rial.

The suc­cess of this op­er­a­tion put the am­phibi­ous ap­proach to pinching on the map and was a def­i­nite feather in the cap of Com­bined Op­er­a­tions. But a dearth of spe­cial­ized land­ing craft was prob­lem­atic, and pinch op­er­a­tions changed form, with lone trawlers sta­tioned far out of sight in the At­lantic be­com­ing the main tar­gets. In the months fol­low­ing the Lo­foten raid, over a dozen trawlers were scooped up, pro­vid­ing much-needed ma­te­rial for the code break­ers.

Mean­while, the sys­tem­atic dis­ap­pear­ance of their weather trawlers led the Ger­man navy — the Kriegs­ma­rine — to sus­pect that its three-ro­tor Enigma en­ci­phered com­mu­ni­ca­tions had been com­pro­mised. Although a change in ci­pher ta­bles was the quick fix for the rest of the Kriegs­ma­rine, the head of the U-boat arm, Ad­mi­ral Karl Doenitz, took an ex­tra step and be­gan out­fit­ting his At­lantic U-boats with a new four-ro­tor ver­sion of the Enigma. The ad­di­tional ro­tor in­creased the al­ready as­tro­nom­i­cal odds of break­ing the ci­pher to an oth­er­worldly ninety-two sep­til­lion to one, leav­ing a pinch as the “only hope.”

Bri­tish naval in­tel­li­gence knew some­thing was afoot. A smashed lid from a four-ro­tor Enigma was pulled from a cap­tured U-boat on Au­gust 27, 1941, pro­vid­ing clear ev­i­dence that a new de­vice had been par­celled out and that an­other in­tel­li­gence black­out was in the off­ing. The only sav­ing grace at this point was that Doenitz had yet to pull the trig­ger on their use in com­bat. The in­tro­duc­tion of a new en­cryp­tion de­vice to an en­tire navy was not easy or cost­ef­fi­cient, and the Bri­tish rea­soned that the Kriegs­ma­rine would not make a whole­sale changeover un­less con­vinced that the three-ro­tor model was per­ma­nently com­pro­mised. They were wrong.

When Lord Louis Mount­bat­ten took com­mand of Com­bined Op­er­a­tions in Oc­to­ber 1941, an­other pinch raid on Lo­foten and Vaagso is­lands in Nor­way was in the last stages of prepa­ra­tion. Mount­bat­ten, the vain­glo­ri­ous play­boy of royal blood­lines, who was said to have been pro­moted far above his ceil­ing by Churchill, pos­sessed an un­par­al­leled tech­ni­cal un­der­stand­ing of sig­nals in­tel­li­gence. Hav­ing de­signed the sig­nals in­tel­li­gence plan for the Mediter­ranean fleet, and hav­ing lob­bied for im­proved en­cryp­tion de­vices for the Royal Navy, Mount­bat­ten un­der­stood the vi­tal na­ture of cryp­tog­ra­phy.

But Mount­bat­ten’s per­son­al­ity coloured the plan­ning and the ex­e­cu­tion of fu­ture pinch raids with a dis­tinct hubris, fu­elled by his ego­tism, panache, and “boy’s own” flair. This left Ad­mi­ral Ber­tram Ram­say (who later com­manded all naval forces for the Nor­mandy in­va­sion in 1944) to opine that Com­bined Op­er­a­tions Head­quar­ters was now in the hands of “in­ex­pe­ri­enced en­thu­si­asts” sus­cep­ti­ble to “vic­tory dis­ease.”

This phe­nom­e­non was re­in­forced when the twin raids on Lo­foten and Vaagso is­lands — Op­er­a­tions An­klet and Archery — were car­ried out on De­cem­ber 27, 1941. From an op­er­a­tional point of view, these were widely con­sid­ered the most suc­cess­ful pinch raids of all. How­ever, although much cru­cial ci­pher ma­te­rial fell into Al­lied hands, noth­ing re­lated to the four-ro­tor naval Enigma ma­te­ri­al­ized. That set­back did not phase Mount­bat­ten or his plan­ning staff in the slight­est. For them, the raids had gone ac­cord­ing to plan; so what could pos­si­bly go wrong mov­ing for­ward, as long as they clung to their ever-ex­pand­ing and in­creas­ingly bold game plan? This flawed as­sump­tion laid the ground­work for dis­as­ter at Dieppe the fol­low­ing sum­mer.

The re­sults of the lat­est raid thrust the Bri­tish into a pre­car­i­ous po­si­tion. With no in­di­ca­tion as to when Doenitz would start us­ing the new de­vice, they were hes­i­tant to take any ac­tion that could has­ten its ar­rival. Yet they had to re­main ready to pounce when it did.

The Naval In­tel­li­gence Divi­sion — which had learned in Jan­uary that some Ger­man sur­face ves­sels op­er­at­ing along the French chan­nel coast had also been out­fit­ted with the four­ro­tor Enigma — re­al­ized that it was only a mat­ter of time be­fore the en­tire Kriegs­ma­rine was us­ing it. On Fe­bru­ary 1, 1942, Doenitz gave the go-ahead for his At­lantic U-boat fleet to be­gin op­er­a­tions with the new de­vice. It was within the at­mos­phere of this po­ten­tial night­mare in­tel­li­gence sce­nario that the raid on Dieppe was con­ceived.

Ever am­bi­tious, “Dickie” Mount­bat­ten was al­ready a step ahead. With the Bri­tish Army on the de­fen­sive in North Africa and in full re­treat in the Far East, his force was the only one ca­pa­ble of mount­ing an of­fen­sive op­er­a­tion to seize vi­tal ci­pher ma­te­rial. Not lost on him, ei­ther, were the po­ten­tial po­lit­i­cal re­wards that a suc­cess­ful pinch raid of­fered for both his ca­reer and his bur­geon­ing Com­bined Op­er­a­tions em­pire.

After all, Mount­bat­ten’s po­lit­i­cal mas­ter, Win­ston Churchill, main­tained an al­most child-like fas­ci­na­tion for the fruits of cryp­tog­ra­phy, hav­ing har­nessed its power as First Lord of the Ad­mi­ralty in the First World War. Cap­tur­ing ma­te­rial lead­ing to the de­feat of the new four-ro­tor beast would have been akin to re­turn­ing with the Holy Grail in the trib­al­is­tic world of White­hall. Not only would it have proved Mount­bat­ten’s doc­trine and his lead­er­ship, it would have raised his shaky pro­file some­what in the eyes of Bri­tish chiefs of staff. In this case, Mount­bat­ten called upon the ex­pe­ri­ence of the same plan­ning team that had en­gi­neered the Lo­foten and Vaagso pinches to lay the founda-

tions for a se­ries of am­phibi­ous raids on the French coast. The first two were planned at­tacks on the U-boat base and dry dock at Saint-Nazaire and the har­bour at Bay­onne for late March, with Dieppe third in line for mid-June.

The Saint-Nazaire raid, con­ducted with all the reck­less dar­ing that Mount­bat­ten could muster, suc­ceeded in grab­bing head­lines by knock­ing out the dry dock that could house the su­per-bat­tle­ship Tir­pitz. How­ever, it cost an en­tire com­mando unit and failed to score the needed ci­pher ma­te­rial. At Bay­onne, the en­tire op­er­a­tion was aban­doned at the eleventh hour when the raid­ing force failed to pen­e­trate the es­tu­ary lead­ing to the port. But, as nei­ther raid had ended in a costly dis­as­ter, there was noth­ing to press Mount­bat­ten and his staff into a hard re-ex­am­i­na­tion of pinch doc­trine, and fu­ture op­er­a­tions like Dieppe be­came big­ger and bolder.

By this time, the im­pact of the four-ro­tor ma­chine was be­ing felt, as U-boats slipped from sight in the At­lantic. As feared, a sharp spike in tor­pe­doed Al­lied mer­chant ships and oil tankers re­sulted. Then came news that U-boats in the Mediter­ranean were us­ing the ma­chine. These de­vel­op­ments had di­rect strate­gic im­pli­ca­tions for the war ef­fort and in­creased the pres­sure in the cryp­to­graphic war. This is the mo­ment when Ad­mi­ral John God­frey noted that Dieppe be­came “hot” and the plan­ning for the Dieppe raid went into over­drive. God­frey’s depart­ment pro­duced a nearly eighty-page topo­graph­i­cal re­port on the port and on the beaches eight kilo­me­tres to each side of the town. An out­line plan, which was drawn from God­frey’s blueprint, called for the Royal Marine Com­mando, the only unit tasked with a mis­sion at this junc­ture, to pen­e­trate the port, cap­ture ves­sels, and wreak

havoc — all eu­phemistic lan­guage de­signed to cover the pinch.

But what made Mount­bat­ten and Bri­tish naval in­tel­li­gence con­fi­dent that Dieppe would de­liver the goods? The French chan­nel port had been on their radar from the time France fell, as it housed the type of ves­sels that uti­lized cut­ting-edge en­cryp­tion ma­chines as well as var­i­ous lower-level codes and ci­phers that pro­vided “cribs” used by Bletch­ley Park’s code break­ers. Dieppe was also a main link for Kriegs­ma­rine com­mu­ni­ca­tion in France and housed a com­mu­ni­ca­tions sup­ply de­pot in ad­di­tion to a port­side naval head­quar­ters be­lieved to be in a ho­tel called the Moderne.

From the pinch per­spec­tive, Dieppe was a tar­get-rich en­vi­ron­ment. From an op­er­a­tional point of view, Dieppe was a short hop across the chan­nel and well within the lim­its of a com­bined op­er­a­tion where land, sea, and air el­e­ments could be brought to bear quickly and ef­fec­tively. The port was small and con­tained. A divi­sion-sized raid­ing force sup­ported by ar­mour could cer­tainly over­take it. In short, it was “doable.”

In early May, the out­line plan for Op­er­a­tion Rut­ter — later code-named Op­er­a­tion Ju­bilee — was adopted by the chiefs of staff. De­tailed plan­ning be­gan fol­low­ing the doc­trine of pre­vi­ous pinch op­er­a­tions. At first, Mount­bat­ten balked at the idea of Cana­dian army par­tic­i­pa­tion, hop­ing that the en­tire Royal Marine Divi­sion would be cho­sen. Po­lit­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tions, how­ever, held sway, and the Cana­di­ans were of­fered the job, which they ea­gerly agreed to take on.

Ma­jor Gen­eral Hamil­ton “Ham” Roberts, who was se­lected to lead the ground el­e­ment of the raid, had his hands tied from a plan­ning per­spec­tive. His job was to put the plan into ac­tion. The Man­i­toba-born First World War vet­eran was viewed by the Bri­tish as the “thruster” who would get the job done, no mat­ter the cost. The Royal Marine Com­mando strike force led by dec­o­rated Com­man­der Robert “Red” Ry­der — he earned the Vic­to­ria Cross in the Sain­tNazaire raid — would still play the star­ring role but would work in di­rect co-op­er­a­tion with the Cal­gary Tanks, Es­sex Scot­tish Reg­i­ment, Royal Reg­i­ment of Canada, the Fusiliers Mont-Royal, and the Royal Cana­dian Engi­neers.

By the time the raid was fi­nally launched on Au­gust 19, 1942 (it was post­poned twice in June and July for var­i­ous rea­sons), the plan had been stream­lined based on the most op­ti­mistic in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the ex­pe­ri­ence gained in pre­vi­ous raids; but this re­fine­ment did not cen­tre on a proper ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the sit­u­a­tion at hand. Rather, a tone of con­fir­ma­tion bias gave cre­dence to Ad­mi­ral Ber­tram Ram­say’s claim of “in­ex­pe­ri­enced en­thu­si­asts” run­ning the show.

Para­mount was the need to get a two-hun­dred-and-fifty-ship raid­ing force across the English Chan­nel at night with­out the Ger­mans notic­ing. Here, Mount­bat­ten em­ployed a dou­ble bluff ploy. He reck­oned that after the can­cel­la­tion of Op­er­a­tion Rut­ter in July — the Ger­mans had dis­cov­ered the raid­ing force in port — a re­mount of the raid would be seen as so un­ortho­dox that it would catch the Ger­mans nap­ping.

Like­wise, the use of cap­i­tal ships was dis­counted be­cause their sud­den ap­pear­ance in the English Chan­nel was bound to draw the in­ter­est of Ger­man re­con­nais­sance. Anti-air­craft ships sta­tioned in the Thames were also cut, as their ap­pear­ance out­side their nor­mal area of op­er­a­tion would cer­tainly pique en­emy cu­rios­ity. Us­ing heavy bombers to de­stroy build­ings along Dieppe’s main beach was like­wise scrubbed, as the drone of their en­gines and their radar sig­na­ture would alert the de­fend­ers, as had hap­pened at Saint-Nazaire. Per­haps most im­por­tantly, though, heavy bomb­ing could have in­cin­er­ated the ma­te­rial they came to cap­ture, while fill­ing the streets with rub­ble and pre­vent­ing quick ac-

cess to the port by the raid­ing force. Sup­pres­sive straf­ing runs by fighter-bombers to par­a­lyze the de­fend­ers were em­ployed in­stead.

The pinch it­self re­lied on an overly com­plex plan based on strict and in­flex­i­ble timings — sim­i­lar to a sym­phony where all mu­si­cians must be on time and on tar­get for all the move­ments to suc­ceed. The in­tent was to de­scend upon Dieppe like a thun­der­clap at dawn and to smother the port in crab-like fash­ion. First on the agenda were outer-flank at­tacks on gun bat­ter­ies by Bri­tish army com­man­dos and the si­mul­ta­ne­ous cap­ture by Cana­dian in­fantry of the daunt­ing head­lands that strad­dled Dieppe’s main beach and con­trolled the en­trance and exit to the port. The South Saskatchewan Reg­i­ment, fol­lowed by the Cameron High­landers of Canada, would cap­ture the west head­land at Pourville and then fan out south­west to throw up a cordon san­i­taire — or perime­ter — to pre­vent Ger­man coun­ter­at­tacks from reach­ing the port. To the east, the Royal Reg­i­ment of Canada, fol­lowed by the Black Watch of Canada, would land at Puys and si­lence the guns atop the eastern head­land. From there they would co-op­er­ate with the units land­ing on the main beach to cre­ate a pipe­line for the pinch.

Thirty min­utes after the flank at­tacks, a bat­ter­ing-ram frontal as­sault over the main beach would com­mence. Sup­ported by naval gun­fire and fighter-bomber at­tacks de­signed to sow con­fu­sion amongst the de­fend­ers, the Royal Hamil­ton Light In­fantry (RHLI), Es­sex Scot­tish, Cal­gary Tanks, and Cana­dian Engi­neers would storm ashore onto the main beach, push over the prom­e­nade and through Ger­man po­si­tions, and plunge into the port to over­whelm the de­fend­ers.

With the RHLI cre­at­ing a cordon san­i­taire past Dieppe’s dis­tinc­tive beach­side casino, the Engi­neers would blow Ger­man road­blocks in the tiny streets to al­low the tanks to burst into the port. There, joined by in­fantry from the Es­sex Scot­tish, the Cal­gary Tanks would si­lence the trawler crews and re­sis­tance around Ger­man naval head­quar­ters to se­cure the ci­pher ma­te­rial. Re­gard­less of the out­come of this phase of the at­tack, the Royal Marine strike force un­der Ry­der off­shore had di­rect or­ders to bar­rel down the chan­nel lead­ing into the port, come hell or high wa­ter, and to fight to the last man if nec­es­sary to cap­ture the de­sired ma­te­rial. Once in­side the port, a spe­cial unit of the Royal Marine Com­mando would ei­ther fight to cap­ture the ma­te­rial, if not al­ready seized, or sim­ply gather ma­te­rial for ex­trac­tion.

In the midst of the fight, a spe­cial boat would be sent to re­move the cap­tured in­tel­li­gence booty and take it straight to God­frey’s per­sonal as­sis­tant — Lieu­tenant Com­man­der Ian Fleming of James Bond fame — who would be wait­ing on a com­mand ship off­shore. With the ma­te­rial in hand, Fleming was the an­chor­man in the re­lay who would re­turn to the near­est Bri­tish port in the quick­est pos­si­ble time. With that ac­com­plished, the Engi­neers would carry out a sys­tem­atic de­struc­tion of the port to hide the pinch be­fore the en­tire force bolted home.

Of course, that all seemed good on pa­per, but the re­al­ity of the day was quite dif­fer­ent.

A lack of proper con­tin­gen­cies in the plan hob­bled it from the start. Although the Bri­tish army com­mando at­tacks on the gun bat­ter­ies to the flanks suc­ceeded, bad luck and poor nav­i­ga­tion caused de­lay, and the vi­tal el­e­ment of sur­prise in the fight for the head­lands was lost. A mas­sacre en­sued for the Royal Reg­i­ment and Black Watch land­ing at Puys, and they failed to get the heights. At Pourville, a costly ad­vance in­land by the South Saskatchewan Reg­i­ment and the Queen’s Own Camerons fell short of its ob­jec­tive, and the men were forced to with­draw. This left both head­lands over­look­ing Dieppe’s main beach in Ger­man hands when the frontal as­sault ar­rived.

Ator­rent of deadly fire greeted the Es­sex Scot­tish, RHLI, Cana­dian Engi­neers, and Cal­gary Tanks as they landed. They were im­me­di­ately pinned down on the beach, and the mas­sacre be­gan. Both the RHLI and Es­sex Scot­tish man­aged to get tiny el­e­ments into the town, but not enough to reach their ob­jec­tives in force. Mean­while, the Cal­gary Reg­i­ment’s tanks in most cases over­came the beach and sea­wall but were un­able to reach the port and trawlers be­cause the Engi­neers, who were car­ry­ing ex­plo­sives, be­came easy tar­gets for Ger­man gun­ners. With no con­tin­gency in place to re­move the road­blocks, the tanks were stuck, and the pinch be­gan to col­lapse.

The Royal Marine strike force then at­tempted to go it alone and to breech the har­bour but was twice turned back by heavy fire from the head­lands. Des­per­ate, Roberts sent in the float­ing re­serve — the Fusiliers Mont-Royal — to sup­port the Es­sex Scot­tish, who, he be­lieved were only me­tres from the trawlers and the naval head­quar­ters. They too suf­fered hor­ri­bly upon land­ing. Fi­nally, the Royal Marines were or­dered to make a third try. Fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of the Es­sex S0 cot­tish and the Fusiliers Mont-Royal, the marines suf­fered the same fate. In less than six hours the raid was over, with over half of the roughly one thou­sand men killed los­ing their lives in di­rect pur­suit of the cryp­to­graphic ma­te­rial.

Public re­la­tions plans had been de­vised well be­fore­hand to dis­guise and to ex­plain the mis­sion, de­pend­ing on the out­come. In this case they had to deal with dis­as­ter on a scale never imag­ined. The spin fo­cused on the heroic ex­ploits of Cana­dian, Bri­tish, and other Al­lied ser­vice­men, serv­ing to blind not only the Ger­mans but his­tory as well. Later, ex­cuses were of­fered for the raid: Dieppe was launched to test Hitler’s At­lantic Wall, to pla­cate Stalin’s calls for a sec­ond front, to learn the lessons of am­phibi­ous op­er­a­tions to pave the way for D-Day, along other more con­spir­a­to­rial sug­ges­tions.

In truth, the raid failed to achieve its main ob­jec­tive de­spite four des­per­ate at­tempts. (The Al­lies fi­nally got what they needed fol­low­ing a pinch by chance off a sink­ing U-boat on Oc­to­ber 30, 1942, near Port Said, Egypt.) Although bold­ness and in­ge­nu­ity were needed to solve the naval Enigma cri­sis, the des­per­a­tion of the mo­ment, cou­pled with Mount­bat­ten’s hubris­tic ap­proach, didn’t help. Given what was at stake, the risk of putting on a pinch raid was well worth tak­ing. But cer­tainly there should have been a less deadly way of pulling it off. In this case, they went a pinch too far.

Dieppe Raid, by Charles Com­fort.

Per­son­nel land­ing craft draw away from a mo­tor tor­pedo boat dur­ing the raid on Dieppe.

Lord Louis Mount­bat­ten as head of Al­lied forces in South­east Asia, circa 1944.

Above: The bod­ies of Cana­dian sol­diers of the Cal­gary Reg­i­ment lie on the beach in the af­ter­math of Op­er­a­tion Ju­bilee.

Left: Cap­tured Cana­dian sol­diers march through Dieppe, France.

Right: Cana­dian sol­diers, some of them wounded, ar­rive back in Eng­land fol­low­ing the failed raid.

A Ger­man Enigma ci­pher ma­chine with code­books.

Above: Boats docked at Dieppe Har­bour, circa 1942. Be­low: The en­trance to Dieppe’s port.

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