Skip to main content

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau inspects the honour guard during a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the Dieppe Raid, at the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Aug. 22, 2017.CHRIS WATTIE/Reuters

A small crowd of veterans, dignitaries and invited guests marked a final, drenched ceremony in Ottawa today in remembrance of the 75th anniversary of the raid on Dieppe in France.

The ceremony was held in the pouring rain at the National War Memorial, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took note of the weather as he paid tribute to the soldiers killed, wounded and captured during Canada's bloodiest Second World War battle.

It was the final acknowledgment of the sacrifices made by the soldiers who landed at Dieppe on August 19, 1942.

Dieppe raid, 75 years later: The country's bloodiest day of the war

Trudeau joined the Canadian delegation, including Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr, who had just returned from a service held in France on Saturday, where a new monument was unveiled to honour members of the King's Own Calgary Regiment who fought at Dieppe.

Of the nearly 5,000 Canadians who took part in the raid, nearly 2,000 were taken prisoner and only about 2,200 made it back to England.

Another 900 were killed.

"Today, we honour those who fought with such grit and valour on the beaches of France," Trudeau said as he stood beside the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the foot of the memorial.

The prime minister called it appropriate that the skies had opened up during the ceremony, giving those in attendance a small feeling of sacrifice in remembrance of those who fought.

"As we sit here in the rain, thinking how uncomfortable we must be these minutes as our suits get wet and our hair gets wet and our shoes get wet, I think it's all the more fitting that we remember on that day, in Dieppe, the rain wasn't rain — it was bullets," Trudeau said as he lowered his own umbrella.

The Dieppe raid began before dawn on that bloody August day in 1942 and was intended to test the German defences along the shore of the occupied French port. But tanks that were supposed to provide armoured cover for the soldiers were late in arriving and the infantry battalions were met with heavy machine-gun fire from the fortified cliffs overlooking the beach.

Despite the bloodshed, the raid provided valuable intelligence that would later be used in Allied amphibious assaults on Normandy and in Africa and Italy.

Trudeau said he hoped the remembrance would serve as a reminder of the terrible price paid in armed conflict.

"Today, and every day, we recommit ourselves to the pursuit of peace and justice for all," the prime minister said.

"Today, and all days, we remember."