Canadian War Museum looks back at Dieppe Raid on its 75th anniversary

August 17, 2017


For immediate release

Ottawa, Ontario, August 17, 2017 — Seventy-five years after the Dieppe Raid, the Canadian War Museum looks back at Canada’s bloodiest day of the Second World War with a new special display. Dieppe features the stories of individuals who took part in the brief but devastating assault in northern France, which resulted in nearly 70 percent of the Canadian force there being killed, wounded, or taken prisoner.

On the morning of August 19, 1942, almost 5,000 Canadian soldiers — along with some 1,000 British and 50 American troops — landed on the French coast at and around the port city of Dieppe. Stony beaches and other obstacles hindered the soldiers’ advance, making them easy targets for German defenders. Canada’s losses were heavy: 907 soldiers dead and 1,154 wounded. Nearly 2,000 Canadians, including many of the wounded, were taken prisoner. Most spent the rest of the war in German camps.

“Dieppe is one of the best-known military operations in Canadian history,” says Stephen Quick, Director General of the Canadian War Museum. “Those who have first-hand knowledge of Dieppe are rapidly disappearing, and this display is a way to perpetuate and share their memories.”

Dieppe consists of photographs, personal letters and artifacts exploring the danger and drama of the raid and its aftermath, including the difficult road to recovery for the wounded, and the isolation, undernourishment and boredom suffered by prisoners of war. The display’s centrepiece is a Churchill tank like those used in the landing.

The display highlights the stories of Canadians such as John Dermody, who escaped death when a German bullet hit a spoon in his back pocket, and fighter pilot George Hill, who shot down his first enemy aircraft at Dieppe and went on to become a flying ace.

Also featured is a prisoner of war identification record from a valuable collection donated to the Museum by Heather and Robin Labatt. The collection once belonged to Mr. Labatt’s father, Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Ridley Labatt, DSO, and includes Labatt’s prisoner-of-war diaries, his first-hand account of the raid, and other documents and photographs. Labatt commanded the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry at Dieppe, where he was captured, remaining a prisoner of the Germans for the war’s duration.

Dieppe will be presented from August 17 to September 4, 2017, in the Museum’s LeBreton Gallery.

The Canadian War Museum is Canada’s national museum of military history. Its mission is to promote public understanding of Canada’s military history in its personal, national, and international dimensions. Work of the Canadian War Museum is made possible in part through financial support of the Government of Canada.

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Media contacts:
Yasmine Mingay
Director, Public Affairs
Canadian War Museum
Telephone: 819-776-8608

Avra Gibbs Lamey
Senior Communications and Media Relations Officer, Canadian War Museum
Telephone: 819-776-8607