Remembrance Dog Tags – Fallen Canadians in the Dieppe Raid

Aim

To increase youth awareness of Canadians who served in the Dieppe Raid and died in service.

Objectives

Youth will:

  • better understand the contributions of Canadians who died in military service during the Second World War’s Dieppe Raid and are found in the Canadian Virtual War Memorial;
  • learn more about military identity discs, known as ‘dog tags’; and
  • develop an awareness of the importance of remembering the sacrifices and achievements of Canadians who gave their lives in military service over the years.

Target Audience

This activity is suitable for ages 12 to 18.

Sequence of Events and Anticipated Time Frame

(This activity can be modified to fit available time.)

  • Introductory discussion [15 minutes]
  • Research and preparation [15 minutes]
  • Presentations [30 minutes]
  • Wrap-up discussion [15 minutes]
  • Possible extension activity [variable]

Materials

Introductory Discussion [15 minutes]

This dog tag activity is designed to help youth “put a face on remembrance.” Canada’s efforts to protect world peace have come at a high cost. Over the years, more than 118,000 Canadians have died in military service.

The ill-fated raid on Dieppe, France, on August 19, 1942, was an important chapter in Canada’s military history. With most of continental Europe under German control at this point during the Second World War, the Allied forces faced a well-entrenched enemy. Some method had to be found and tested to create a foothold on the continent, and the Dieppe Raid offered invaluable lessons for future amphibious landings. Why were Canadians heavily involved in this operation? Our troops had been training since the outset of the war in 1939 and, except for the Battle of Hong Kong, had yet to see significant battlefield action. There was political pressure at home to get the Canadians into battle, as well as pressure within the army itself.

This dog tags activity highlights only some of the Canadians who died in the Dieppe Raid. Taking a few moments to think about these individuals is a way to remember all those who served.

Ask youth what they know about the Second World War. Are they familiar with the tragic Dieppe Raid? You may want to invite them to read The Dieppe Raid historical sheet as an introduction to this lesson.

What is a military dog tag?

Ask youth if they know what a military “dog tag” is. Have they ever seen one?

A dog tag is a piece of formal identification for military personnel. It must be worn when soldiers are on duty. The name “dog tag” comes from the similarity to real tags used to identify dogs. It was officially called an “identity disc” or I disc. The tag bears important information on the individual, such as the name, rank, service number, blood type and religion (to call the appropriate clergy person in case of injury or death).

Identification tags have been worn by Canadian troops since the First World War. The Canadian tags are now designed to be broken in two pieces in the event of death; one piece remains with the deceased and the other piece is sent to the Department of National Defence.

Research and Preparation [15 minutes]

Using card stock paper for added strength, print the dog tags of Canadians who died in the Dieppe Raid (PDF). This document contains information on 135 individuals from across Canada who lost their lives during the August 19, 1942, operation.

  • Cut out the individual pieces. If you wish to re-use the dog tags, laminate them.
  • Make two holes in each of the dog tags and attach a piece of string or metal beaded chain.
  • Distribute the dog tags.
  • Have youth research the individual on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial website and ask them to add the service number and age of their fallen service member directly on the dog tag.
  • Youth may search the Internet to find additional personal information about their fallen service members, such as their hometowns, places of enlistment, places served, causes of death, places of burial, etc., which could be included in their presentations.

What is the Canadian Virtual War Memorial?

This site contains a registry of information about the graves and memorials of more than 118,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders who served valiantly and gave their lives for their country. Included on this site are the memorials of more than 1,800 men and women who died in service to Canada since the Korean War, including peacekeeping and other military operations. The site also contains digital images of photographs and personal memorabilia. The purpose of the Canadian Virtual War Memorial is to recognize and keep alive the memory of the achievements and sacrifices made by those who served Canada in the defense of freedom and so have contributed to the development of Canada as a nation.

Presentations [30 minutes]

Have each youth present “his” or “her” fallen soldier to the group.

Wrap-Up Discussion [15 minutes]

Lead a discussion around the dog tag activity by asking the following questions:

  • Do youth have a better appreciation of the contributions of Canadians in uniform who died in service?
  • Do they have a better knowledge of the August 1942 Dieppe Raid?
  • Are there other ways to use the dog tags to honour those who served? (For example, wearing the dog tags at a remembrance ceremony, etc.)?
  • Is it still relevant, in todays’ society, to take the time to remember Canadians who died at war decades ago?

Possible Extension Activity [variable]

Youth may wish to vary this activity by doing research on a relative or someone from their town or region who served in uniform. If the individual is a Veteran, and if this person is available and interested in coming, he or she could be invited to share his or her personal experiences in the military with the class.

You might want to refer to The 1942 Dieppe Raid historical booklet and the Heroes Remember presents the Dieppe Raid video (8 min 34 seconds) on the Veterans Affairs Canada website for additional information.

Youth could also explore the Memorials section of this site to learn about monuments to the Dieppe Raid, like the “Square du Canada Memorial”, Puys Memorial, Pourville Memorial, Fusilliers Mont-Royal Memorial, the Essex Scottish Regiment Dieppe Memorial and Essex Scottish Regiment Dieppe Plaque.

You may also want to point out that many of those who died in the raid are buried at the Dieppe Canadian War Cemetery. It is believed to be the only existing Allied cemetery of the Second World War that was created by German soldiers, because the Canadians who fell on August 19, 1942 had to be left behind. The rows of headstones are laid back-to-back. After the war, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission decided to keep the headstones as they were. Youth could do some research about this cemetery online and compare photos with other Second World War Allied cemeteries.

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