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Canadian veterans, from left, David Hart, Ray Gilbert, Roman Wozniak, Charles Burrows, Arthur Rossell, Frederick Engelbrecht  and Donatien Vaillancourt, seated, at the beach in Dieppe, France, Aug. 17, 2012. (SAM DUBLIN For The Globe and Mail)

Canadian veterans, from left, David Hart, Ray Gilbert, Roman Wozniak, Charles Burrows, Arthur Rossell, Frederick Engelbrecht  and Donatien Vaillancourt, seated, at the beach in Dieppe, France, Aug. 17, 2012.

(SAM DUBLIN For The Globe and Mail)

Dieppe remembered, 70 years later: ‘We reached the beach, all hell broke loose’ Add to ...

Five thousand men knew about the raid; information was bound to leak through phone calls and letters home. “I told my father-in-law: ‘Don’t tell my wife, but I’m not coming back. We’re making a raid with no chance of success.’”

Mr. Vaillancourt was captured and remained a prisoner until the war’s end. “The Germans were waiting for us for three days. They knew we were coming. They were all in position. They were taking their positions every morning, when there was no moon.”

Frederick Bernard Engelbrecht

Age: 92

Unit: Royal Hamilton Light Infantry

Frederick Engelbrecht was left behind initially when he tried to board an escaping tank landing craft – 65 men were already onboard the vessel designed to carry 35.

Someone was “banging heads to knock the men off who were hanging on to the ropes,” Mr. Engelbrecht said. The boat made it about 200 yards off shore. “Then all we see is a big column of water emerge from the middle. It was a direct hit from an artillery shot. Big. Heavy. It goes about 30 or 40 feet in the air, this column of water, bodies, and parts, and everything.”

Later, the tide came in, carrying bodies and colouring the water red. Mr. Engelbrecht fought on, trying to find a way out. The Germans were close, right on his back. Then the grenades stopped.

“There was a deadly silence. I thought: ‘Am I dead?’” No, not dead, but soon a prisoner of war.

A day or two later, his German captors gave him a piece of black bread. “That’s when it hit. Up until then, I’m thinking, I’m acting, I’m doing. Then I looked at the bread – and I hate to say it – and I started to cry. Obviously I’m in shock. And I cried. And I cried the entire damn night.”

He woke with plans to escape. He tried, but never got fully away.

David Lloyd Hart

Age: 95

Unit: Royal Canadian Corps of Signals

David Hart was a messenger. He relayed information between headquarters and the men in the battle. As a result, he knew rescue boats were being sent in ahead of schedule, and more importantly, he knew the 6th Brigade did not get the message.

Mr. Hart believed his overlapping frequency could find them, but headquarters did not want to let him get off the air because he was the only one left able to communicate forward and back. He persuaded his superiors he could do the job in less than two minutes. Thirty seconds later, he got the message to the 6th Brigade. This saved hundreds of lives, which he didn’t know until he was debriefed.

“I felt very proud of that,” he said. “Two months later, when my commanding officer had recovered from his wounds, he came running up the stairs and said: ‘Sergeant Hart, you’re to Buckingham Palace. The King is giving you an honour of the Military Medal for bravery for what you did.”

Arthur Edmondson Rossell

Age: 92

Unit: Essex Scottish Regiment

Five years ago, Arthur Rossell turned down an invitation to return to Dieppe. He worried he couldn’t pay a proper tribute.

“I didn’t think it would look good because I was saved. I came out of it without a scratch,” he said. Mr. Rossell, however, is being modest. He spent 18 days in a coma and months more in hospital following the raid, according to Veterans Affairs.

“I was a lucky man because when we hit the water, I was supposed to be a bodyguard for the Brigadier-General. I had been transferred to it a week before,” said Mr. Rossell. “After the Brigadier-General got in about five or six feet of water, he was wounded, and we had to get him back on the landing craft. By that time, they were starting to move out from the beach, but they threw ropes out. There were three of us that caught the ropes and were dragged out to sea. They say we were pulled aboard after we were out in the water.”

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