Document Source: Official Report, Operation Jubilee, Dieppe, France, 1942 (Royal Canadian Army). Report on the Operation Jubilee, August 19, 1942, Capt G. A. Brown (RCA), Personal Account.
Landing at Blue Beach
As far as I know, Royal Regiment C suffered no casualties while approaching the beach, although we were fired on, for about 10 minutes before touchdown, by light weapons whose calibers I was not able to ascertain from my seat in the stern of the LCA (Landing Craft Assault). Royals touched down at 0535, as I remember my first message to HMS Garth ‘Doug Touched Down 0535’. We were met by intense, accurate LMG fire (MG-34 & MG-42), sustaining heavy casualties. Able and Baker Cos, who were landed immediately in the front of Blue Beach sea-wall, met intense and unexpectedly heavy MG fire from a number of posts on the wall, sustaining very heavy casualties as they left the LCAs. The survivors, who attained the comparative cover of the wall itself, were pinned to its face by enfilade fire from well-concealed positions on the flanks. Some of the wall MG posts were put out of action, however, at a further heavy cost, and, in this regard, it may be permitted to mention the conduct of Lt wedded of the Royal Regt C. Leaving the LCA at touchdown whit his platoon, he reached the sea-wall with little more than a section, and there found he was still being fired upon by one of the wall post, a pillbox. There being apparently no other way of attacking the weapon, he left his left corner of relative shelter and sprinted the short distance directly toward the pillbox with an M-36 hand grenade. With complete disregard for his own safety, and displaying great skill, he flunks the grenade through the fire slit of the pillbox, killing all its occupants and putting the gun out of action. His body, riddled with bullets, was later picked up in the front of the pillbox. I could not myself witness this act from my position farther west on the beach, but it was verified later at Verneuil by officers of the Regiment who had seen it and spoke of it.
Dieppe, France, Operation Jubilee, August 19, 1942.
Canadian casualties on Blue Beach.
Charlie and Dog Cos were landed at the extreme right of the beach, Dog Co (Edward) and the Prize Troop Royal Canadian Army west of the sea-wall, under the cliffs. Charlie Co, which impinged upon the right end of the sea-wall where it meats the cliff-face forming a kind of spur jutting out into the beach, was caught in enfilade fire from both flanks. Dog Co and the CO’s party were in a sort of re-entrant on the western side of the wall’s end spur. Edward force and the Prize Troop RCA were a hundred yards or farther west down the beach. The remnants of Charlie and Dog Cos, led by the colonel, then attempted to cut a path through the wire at the western end of the sea-wall and scale the cliff up to the western prominent house.
There was considerable delay here because Dog Co’s Bangalores had been lost overside from the LCA shortly after leaving the mother-ship, through being improperly secured, and the Bangalore-men of Charlie Co were shot down in the water as they sprang out of the LCAs. The only way through the wire was by wire-cutters. A path was finally cut by the colonel, Sgt Coles, and two other men. Lt Stewart, who attempted to cover this operation by standing in the wire, upright with a Bren gun, the only position from which he might see from where the fire was coming, was shot down instantly, though not, I believe, killed. Cutting through the wire took some time, and it was not accomplished until after 0610, at which time I reported to HMS Garth ‘Doug Still on the Beach, Casualties Heavy, MG Mortar Fire 0610’.
The path was made through the wire, the colonel led his party up the cliff to the top, between bursts of Machine Gunfire.
(Doc Snafu) This is the ‘Marvelous’ British Made combat tool used to cut wire. I really have to say that trying to cut something with this ‘Stone Age’ tool, sitting at home in your sofa while watching a movie is a real performance. Now using the same stupid thing while being pinned down by both flanks enfilade Machine Gun fire on the a beach in Dieppe, … well!
The party cleared the two houses at the top, immediately above the west end of the sea wall, resistance being met in the first only. Arrived at the top were, the CO, Capt Hauser, Lt Ryerson, and Lt Taylor, Sgt Coles, and 11 men from Charlie Co, Royal Regiment. Besides these, there were Lt McVetteridge (RCA) and 3 men of his LAA Prize Detachment, and myself as FOO attached to the Battalion. The above were the only men with the Royals who got beyond the beach.
In the meantime, the fire from Able and Baker Cos was dwindling away to nothing, their casualties being so heavy. The remainder of Charlie and Dog Cos, pinned into the re-entrant at the junction of the sea wall and the cliff by accurate steady bursts of Machine Gun fire could see nothing to shoot at. The Battalion’s 3′ mortars were never fired and scarcely set up, 2 crews in quick succession being shot down at them, until I think, there was no more mortar personnel left.
Water and chalk from the cliff jammed some of the Thompson SMGs, Sten Guns, and 2′ mortars, in some cases, being wet, could only with difficulty, and a reduced range, fire smoke bombs. There were not enough of these. The Battalion 18 Radio Set would not function, as, I believe, the microphones and the key assembly had fallen into the water when leaving the LCA.
All this time, the remainder of the group having got out of the LMG fire by sheltering in niches in the cliff-face on the beach were now heavily engaged by German 81-MM mortars and stick grenades lobbed down from the clifftop above. We sustained further heavy casualties from this mortar fire which the Germans were able to place well within 20-30 meters of the bottom of the cliff. The stick grenades, although not so effective as our M-36, were still very effectively employed, and there seemed to be lots of them. The defense fire of the German artillery (75-MM) was apparently extremely well surveyed, for the shells burst precisely at the water-line at impeccable correct interval and timing. I saw 2 LCAs sunk by hits or splinters from this fire. From Gunner’s point of view, it was an admirable shooting.
I saw the colonel going up through the wire, and my telegraphist being in that moment in the middle of a message, I told him to follow up as soon as he had finished, and I sprinted up the cliff after the colonel. As it later appeared, MG fire from a new position on the hill behind the fortified house on the left and of, and above, the sea wall, closed the gap in the wire and prevented any more men from reaching the top. The colonel and his small party were now cut off from the remainder of Charlie and Dog Cos on the beach. It was now 0700, British time. Sounds of firing on the left flank had now died completely away.
From the center and from the right flank also, we could hear intermittent bursts of German automatic fire and the steady detonations of their mortar bombs. From this we inferred that Able and Baker Cos had been knocked out and that the survivors of Charlie and Dog Cos were still pinned down in the angle of the cliff, being cut up by mortars. We discovered that we could not get back to the beach, nor could we get back to the cliff edge because of LMG fire from the left flank, up on the hillside.
Just at this moment, Lt Ryerson saw a strong patrol coming along the road through the trees toward us from the direction of the fortified house on the left flank. The decision was made to move toward the Salvation Beach westward along the cliff top by the walled road under cover of the trees as far as they went. We would try to contact the HMS Essex. Accordingly, we struck through the small wood immediately to the west and above the beach, toward Notre-Dame de Bon Secours.
We pressed through the wood, following the line of the walled road under the trees, turning gradually south until we came to the road running between Puits and Notre-Dame de Bon Secours. Ahead of us to the west across the walled road, and beyond an open field of about 100 meters were the billets and gun positions on the German 88-MM Battery of the air photos. On our right, along the cliff edge, 200 or 300 meters to the north were the LMGs at that moment firing on aircraft. Behind us was the patrol, which Lt Ryeson had estimated at 2 platoons.
Also behind us, at the junction of the Berneval, Puys, Neuville lès Dieppe roads were the six and eight-wheeled armored cars of which we later told by Lt T.D. Archibald (RCA), who was led past the AFVs after his capture. On our left, across the Puys, Notre Dame de Bon Secours road were 4 positions of 75-MM gun battery and a detachment of 88-MM AAA gun, whether two or four I could not discover. These may have been the guns which I later saw (four) at Bellengreville the following morning with their half-tracked tractors. It was then getting on toward 1000, and the Infantry guns were firing on the beach.
They had previously been engaging the destroyer, with, I was told, considerable accuracy, for, when the HMS Garth came close in to engage shore targets at a direct fire, she was forced to withdraw by bursts of gun-fire from this battery which fell to hazardously to close to her. One shell, it was rumored, appeared to have struck her on the bow.
A scout of our party who went out the road to recce was shot. The Germans had LMGs sited at each road and track intersection in this vicinity, with fields of fire in all directions. Shortly after 1000 (or it may have been near 1100) while in the wood, we heard the survivors of the beach being marched past under guard.
Before noon it was apparent that from all the sounds firing that we could hear both from Red and White beaches, as well as Blue beach where there was none, there was a little or no land fighting, and that the operation had resolved into an air battle. As far as we could see and hear from the wood, the German gunners had an unlimited supply of 88-MM, 20-MM, and LMG ammunition for AAA use, because they fired persistently and determinedly at every Royal Air Force machine they could see, without ceasing right up until 1600.
The 88-MM battery of 6 guns on the clifftop between Notre Dame de Bon Secours and Puits served its guns magnificently. It was a low-level bombed at least four times and machine-gunned oftener by our fighters after 1000, that is, between 1000 and 1600, with us as witnesses, and each time the guns were back in action within a matter of few seconds, firing upon the departing aircraft. Once after a low-level attack, only two guns were instantly back in action, the other times always at least four.