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English Channel Voyage to Dieppe

The Dieppe Raid

English Channel Voyage to Dieppe

We kept on going and going. Zero hour, 4:50 in the morning. Zero hour, 4:50 in the morning. Every man that had an army watch synchronized it for zero hour. But before we got to zero hour, we run into a bunch of E-boats, German E-boats. They were patrolling the, the channel as well, because they figured there something that looked queer to them. So, they were patrolling. And of course they run into our ships. Well the radios were just humming all along the coast line, “be on the look-out, something is happening, and make sure that you’re prepared for any eventualities that may happen.” So, nevertheless we just kept on going. And so, at 4:50 everything was quiet and peaceful and we stood off by the railing there looking up towards Dieppe. You couldn’t see Dieppe because all the lights were out. Then, exactly at 4:50 the shells started to go. The guns started to go. There was a, quite a barrage of gunfire during the first hour. They set, the whole city was set on fire because they, the Air Force had already gone with a thousand bomb raid over the city and they had just blasted the city with the, with their bombs. Then, the next thing that came then of course were the big guns. Now, the Germans were using the French guns which they had buried in the foundation of the cliff, and dug up in the cliff. And, then they built little tracks, railroad tracks with a curve in the track. And so when they were ready to fire, they’d load up the gun, that was way inside these fortification, in the, in the clay fortification. And then, they would line them all up and then, they would bring them up around the curve and they’d bring them up until they got into the target that they wanted to hit. And so if it was our ship, well, they picked out the ship and they were ready to fire. So once they’d fire well then the first one might be a miss but the second one could be a hit. So, you had to stay well out, three miles away from the coast line. That’s as close as we could get. So, then the shelling and the bombing kept on going all through the morning. And every once in awhile a little barge would pull up along side of us. Destroyer. And we’d pull off the dead, the wounded. Some were bleeding, some they, the hull of the ship was just red with blood. Yeah. That was memories of Dieppe. Interviewer: Were you men aware at that time Mr. Grand, that the Dieppe raid had been a disaster? Not at that stage. But we did a little later on. Well, they, they kept on shooting back and forth all through the morning, and as the messages were coming on the radio, “Sorry to inform you but our signals is at an end. We’re being surrounded by Germans. I’m blowing up this set.” And the guy would pull out his revolver and he’d fire three or four shots in the set so it could not be used by the Germans, or they could not trace too much about it. Now, he was being taken poisoner, he was one of the lucky ones.

Mr. Grand describes how the ship continues to move across the English Channel toward France.

John Grand

Mr. Grand was born in 1909 in, as he described it, “a small hamlet in the wilderness of southern Manitoba.” His father homesteaded in Manitoba and then Saskatchewan. John Grand described his growing up during the Depression as poor and tough.

Mr. Grand was very interested in electronics as a teenager and held an amateur radio licence. He tried to join the Signal Corps in the 1930's, but was rejected for being “too flat-chested”. He remembers being so poor that he often joined the soup line to get something to eat. His first job was on the assembly line at Canadian Marconi for eleven cents an hour.

He joined the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals when war was declared in 1939. He was first assigned as a radio operator, but when his superiors saw his mechanical skills he was quickly re-assigned as a radio technician. His overseas service included landing at Dieppe, participating in the Normandy Campaign and in the liberation of Holland.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
John Grand
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Royal Canadian Signals Corps
Staff Sergeant
Radio Operator and Technician

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