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Witnessing an Absolute Massacre

The Dieppe Raid

Witnessing an Absolute Massacre

Snipers were everywhere. The snipers were up in that house and a sniper hit the rim of my helmet. I flopped down beside a shallow abutment, it shows these abutments. And most of the guys were up against the wall and just piled that high, see, and they tried to get the bangalore torpedo's up to blow the wire and then in one case the bangalore torpedo came back down and exploded among their own men. And the hand grenades the fellows that were trying to throw hand grenades through the slots they'd get hit, they'd pull the pin and they'd drop the hand grenade. They'd get hit just as soon as they pulled the pin. It was unbelievable, unbelievable. Absolute massacre. So I am down there getting my bearings because I had lost track of my platoon. I wasn't with my platoon and so, you know, you're waiting for orders. You're waiting for orders. You've taken orders for the last four years or two years, whatever it was. So you don't just go in and do things. You wait for orders. Anyway, finally, these mortars were coming all up the beach and the stones were multiplying the shrapnel. It just does showers, just showers of this stuff. So the last one that landed, I tilted my helmet and turned my eyes away because I, you know, I was worried about my eyes. And this sniper hit the brim of my helmet and knocked my helmet off. But he missed the haversack and the haversack, I had those 12 very sensitive two inch bombs in the haversack on my back and it's sticking up like that. Well eventually I wiggled out of it because I seen this was a calamity and there was gonna be no use for a two inch mortar there. There was no way you could fire a two inch mortar, you couldn't see these guys. You might hit your own men. We didn't know if it was any of our first wave inland. You know, we didn't know were all our first wave was, the second wave. So eventually, I got rid of the mortar and I picked up a rifle. And there was one area where they could get up underneath the wire and I've seen it, I can show it to you on that picture. And the guys were going up just worming their way up, underneath the wire and over the top, you see. There was so many men up there already, but there wasn't enough men up there to actually do anything. The colonel was up there. And landing with a second wave, we didn't know where any of the first wave was, we didn't know how many of the first wave had got... penetrated. We didn't know that, see. Well anyway, I start up, the guy ahead of me, you know, we're all in a line up and he received a direct hit, just as he'd reached the summit. This was pretty high. And he slid back down. And he took the rest of us down to the bottom. By then the snipers had realized that men were scaling there, you see, in that particular place. So anyway, later on, we could see it was a lost cause. Well then an order there was as I told you, this signalman was signaling to the destroyer, fire a couple shells in, hit the wall, knock a hole in the wall, do anything. Fire shells in, never mind the men, if you kill us guys, that's fine. Nothing. Of course later that was the Berkeley and the Berkeley was hit by a bomb and damaged and then the British, another British destroyer torpedoed it and sank it. So that was the destroyer that was off the beach, Blue Beach, Berkeley, the HMS Berkeley. I seen it and it felt, it made me feel sad to see the ship hit, you know. But anyway, later on there was three orders to surrender. Orders, demands. And I remember a voice from somewhere, you know, there was smoke and there was, there were men burning alive in the wire, you know, caught in the wire with packs on their backs, demolition packs on fire. And I remember they shot one guy, our fellas, somebody shot him because he was on fire in the wire and he couldn't get out so they put a bullet in his head. And it's just, just unbelievable, you know, this was our first action.

Mr. Poolton speaks about the battle of Dieppe - snipers shooting, men on fire and orders given to surrender!

John (Jack) Poolton

John (Jack) Abernethy Poolton was born in Toronto, Ontario on January 9, 1918. He was one of seven children. His father farmed 100 acres near Kapuskasing, Ontario. Mr. Poolton enlisted in the Royal Regiment of Canada and provides vivid, clear details of the allied landing at Dieppe, France on August 19, 1942.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
John (Jack) Poolton
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Royal Canadian Regiment

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