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Landing craft carrying Canadian tanks and infantry approach the beach at Dieppe, France, August 19, 1942. (Courtesy of the Alexander family)

Landing craft carrying Canadian tanks and infantry approach the beach at Dieppe, France, August 19, 1942.

(Courtesy of the Alexander family)

Canadians share family connections to Dieppe raid Add to ...

The first attempt to disembark the tanks was a catastrophe. The colonel's tank left the LST in deep water, drowning all occupants and many infantry also drowned as they jumped off into this deep water. After moving to shallower water the major's tank left the LST for the beach, damaging the LST's ramp in the process. The ramp of the LST was jammed, immobilizing the LST, and the final tank and my father's jeep were unable to disembark for the beach.

Six hours of unrelenting fire from artillery on the cliffs immediately above Dieppe beach rained down on the trapped LST and its remaining occupants. Dad received a severe shrapnel wound when a direct hit exploded the wheelhouse of the LST and he drifted in and out of consciousness during the remainder of the bombardment. One of the support ships finally towed the stranded LST off the beach. As Dad lay wounded in the LST he counted 37 shell holes, many of them man-sized, in the structure of the LST as he waited to be winched aboard the hospital ship.

Dad recovered from his wounds and fought on with the Calgarys in Italy and Holland until the end of the war. In fact, the battle-hardened Calgarys were kept on in Holland for six months after the end of the war to maintain order as civil government was re-established in Holland.

When the tankers finally returned to Calgary in December, 1945 a huge crowd welcomed the boys home. Some estimates put the size of the crowd as greater than Calgary's population. Of the 220 original enlistees in B squadron from my Dad's area of rural central Alberta just 11 remained as they marched down Eighth Avenue to Mewata Armouries.

Sam Rushton - North Vancouver, B.C.

My grandfather (Sgt. Mark Rushton) participated in the raid as part of the 3rd Canadian Light Anti-Aircraft, attached to the Royal Regiment of Canada. He passed away in 1996, when I was 7, so I didn't have much of a chance to ask him about his experiences. Even so, I understand he remained rather reticent about it for his entire life, to both his children and his wife.

In 2008, my father and I made the trip to Normandy to see if we could find out more about his experience in Dieppe. After some hunting around and researching, we came across some accounts of the unit he was in and managed to find out exactly where he landed and what his mission was. As part of the 3rd CLAA, his party's mission was to investigate a new type of anti-aircraft gun sight the Germans were using. When they landed, they were continuously swept by sniper and machine gun fire and the men who reached the wall had grenades dropped on them. Of the 26 men in his party, only 7 returned.

My father and I were quite moved by the whole experience. We collected rocks and took pictures of the very same beach and slope he had landed on, in an town called Puys. We made a diorama for my grandmother when we returned and she was delighted. It was a sobering and enriching experience I will never forget.

Chris Wellwood - Kingston, Ont.

My father, Reginald Carl Wellwood, was a corporal in 7 Field Company of the engineers. The mission of his section was to blow up the locks in the Dieppe harbour but they never reached the locks. He was on the river gunboat HMS Locust and on the return trip to England the boat crew thought that he had been killed as he was fast asleep at the base of the deck gun and not moving when the gun fired. He survived the raid but was wounded and captured in France in 1944.

Michael Hart - Miami, Florida

My Dad, Colonel David Hart, was in the Dieppe Raid. He was a sergeant in the Signal Corps on Red Beach. He was one of the 900+ lucky ones who got back to England where he was decorated with the Military Medal for bravery which was awarded to him in Buckingham Palace by King George VI. Even today at 95 years old, he is in great shape and is still active in the military as an Honorary Colonel. In fact, he and my mom are today part of the group attending the 70th anniversary in Dieppe with the Canadian Forces. We are all very proud of him.

These responses have been edited for clarity

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