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Heroes Remembers Presents

It was a lark. We were on vacation. And I said to somebody, “Boy, I think that things are going to be a little hot here.” We wanted to be trained. We wanted to be fit. We wanted to do as we were told. We can beat anything. What mortal fools.

Damaged equipment on the beach.

We went down to Southampton where we went aboard the

Troops boarding ships.

Princess Beatrix with three assault craft hanging on each side instead of lifeboats. Lord Louis Mountbatten came aboard and he come down and gathered us all and told us a joke...

Picture of Lord Louis Mountbatten addressing the soldiers.

... and then he says, “Our destination is Dieppe, because it is not very heavily fortified.”

Picture of the Dieppe coastline.

I said, “We’re going to have to take the advantage of surprise!” We got across there without a hitch. You’d think you were going for a Saturday night boat ride.

Soldiers inside the landing craft.

Some were telling jokes, others were praying, and me on the aff deck... I was praying too. I remember an aircraft overhead. It had to be German, and they dropped chandelier flares. We were quite a ways out,

Flares and gunfire bursting in the night sky.

but it lit up the Channel, you know. You could see the escort vessels and all these little landing craft. It was like the first of July. It was absolutely fantastic with the tracers and the colours and that were just out of this world. And the flights of Spitfires, twelve at a time, twelve at a time, just squadron after squadron going over

Formation of Spitfire fighter planes flying by.

and you didn’t know what was going on. It’s the greatest air battle because if you could imagine, the British launched about 3,000 sorties.

Fighter planes doing manouvers.

The Germans launched almost a thousand

Plane having its wing shot of, and another being shot at and hit directly on the tail.

so we had 4,000 sorties of aircraft all churning around.

Bombers flying at low atltitude.

At the same time all these twin-engine bombers, I think they were Hudsons, were going across. They never hit a damn thing. One of the worst things there was the Stuka dive bombers coming

Stuka dive bomber prapering for a dive.

down and screaming, you know, and they would drop these bombs

Explosion near troops from a dive bomber.

that they had, but the screaming noise was awful. We got into that terrain around 6:00 but we couldn’t land till about 6:30. The boats began to advance and then, as we approached Dieppe, the Germans opened deadly fire on the boats. You should have heard the racket. We couldn’t hear a thing. We were deaf.

Huge explosion in the water near boats.

And the Germans had a real field day.

Landing craft taking a direct hit from enemy fire.

They could pop us off left and right.

German soldiers gathering forces.

We were supposed to meet a tired Pioneer Battalion of Germans rushing from the Russian front. That’s who we were supposed to meet. Well, I don’t know, but boy, they sure weren’t tired. The Germans were masters of ranging, masters of fire direction and they had that, they had that area completely, completely covered.

German guns firing on the Dieppe coastline.

They had guns in the cliffs to the right of us, and guns in the cliffs to the left of us, and they had machine guns in the buildings in front of us. Putting those tanks ashore on that heavy pebble.

Destroyed tanks on the beach.

They couldn’t get traction. The tanks were useless. Well, when I say useless, the men in them did everything they possibly could but they were hopeless. You couldn’t move them into Dieppe proper. You never knew when you were going to get her. You don’t in the Army.

Body of a dead soldier appears as smoke clears.

You never know when you’re going to get her. You see the colonel get killed in front of you.

More dead soldiers lying on the ground.

You see the sergeant-major get killed in front of you. This is no fooling game boy. You move it. I staggered up the beach and all I could see was dead men and pieces of bodies scattered everywhere. So I was running on top of dead guys and guys

Soldiers running up the beach, beginning their attack.

crying and screaming for help. Just don’t stop, go. Then a mortar bomb fell to the right of him

Dead soldier lying at the edge of the beach.

and I was protected by his body. And I cut his second dog tag off. You wore two dog tags. Leave one on and you take the other one off and the one stays on the body.

Dead soldiers along side the sea wall.

Most of the dead were at the sea wall. That would be the limit of where they got except for a few who did get into the town. The navy was trying to get landing craft in to get us off, but it was impossible. These mortars, I couldn’t believe anybody

Landing craft approaching the beach with more men.

could be that accurate with these mortars. It was like they rehearsed it over and over and over.

A few survivors swimming or floating in the water.

There were a few survivors swimming and... I could see them diving under the water because the Germans were trying to kill them all. The HMS Berkeley came around to pick people up.

HMS Berkeley picking up survivors.

What they do is they put ropes and nets out. They don’t stop. You better grab and hang on for what you’re worth

Survivors grabbing and clinging to the ropes and nets.

and you get up on your own.

Men being cared for once onboard.

The hull of the ship was just red with blood. Yeah. That was memories of Dieppe. Around eleven o’clock, we saw one of our platoons advancing towards us with Germans behind them. They were using our platoon as a shield. As some men wanted to shoot, the company commander said, "No, no. We’re not going to fire and kill our own men.”

Soldiers surrendering.

Then he gave the order to surrender. They came to me and they could see that I was wounded.

Drawing of a medic looking at an injured soldier.

I was losing blood too. Every time I would talk it would gurgle from this hole in here and it would come up, and there was blood popping and air coming out of this hole. I was pretending to be dead. When the German got to me...

Soldiers lying dead on the ground.

He turned my friend over and then, when he got to me... my arm was like that... I’m ticklish like you wouldn’t believe. So I jumped and then he said, “Komm, komm mein Leiber.”

POW being marched.

We were marched into a school yard and it was in the school yard that a Spitfire come over and going this way and they fired

Anti-aircraft guns being fired.

at the Spitfire that went over. So he just circled and came back

Fighter plane banking left.

and saw a bunch of men and he said : “Share this amongst you!”

Fighter planes flying in the distance.

There were quite a few killed including two of our guys. The next morning the trains arrived. They piled us in, 40 men per car, and we headed for Verneuil. Pulled the train, stopped the train at Lammsdorf, the station nearest the prison camp and the first thing we seen as they threw the doors open... were Russian prisoners unloading an ammunition train and the Germans were armed with bullwhips. They put us with our toes and nose to the wall and then they put chains on us fastened behind our backs.

Wounded soldier with an eye patch over his left eye.

We actually believed we were going to be shot.

POW's being asked questions.

And we’re hungry then and we’re cold and we’re miserable. To tell you the truth, I didn’t give a damn.

Two helmets and a radio hit by a wave.

We were supposed to get a medal for Dieppe, but old Churchill said “No.” He says, “No medals for a failure.” I guess the people that were running the thing had different thoughts on it, but the average soldier they thought for sure that was just a suicide thing. I couldn’t help saying: “It was a slaughter.” What a waste. Life doesn’t mean much, does it?

Graves stones.


Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
December 1, 2010
Person Interviewed:
Heroes Remember Presents
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War

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