The Battle of Dieppe during World War Two — 70 years ago today, on August 19th, 1942 — was of great significance for Windsor and Essex County.
The raid was composed of more than 6000 soldiers, sailors and airmen, of which around 5000 were Canadian, and 553 were part of the Essex Scottish Regiment.
Essex Scottish soldiers left Southampton, Portsmouth and Newhaven, England on the evening of August 18th 1942 on ships, bound for Dieppe, France. At 3am, soldiers boarded assault landing craft. At 5am the assault landing craft were fired on by troops on shore, by 5:25am the assault craft touched down on “Red Beach” in Dieppe.
Essex Scottish troops stormed from their landing craft toward barbed wire blocking their way. Soldiers were met with heavy mortar and machine gun fire on the beach and casualties began to mount. Within only twenty minutes — by 5:45am — around 7 out of every 25 men from the Essex Scottish regiment were either killed or wounded.
The Essex Scottish reached the seawall and attempted to scale it. Almost all of the troops assaulting the seawall were killed or seriously wounded. Fortunately, two groupings of soldiers made it over the seawall and headed for town.
By 6:30am, the Essex Scottish were unable to continue fighting as an organized unit: three quarters of their total men were casualties.
Our local heroes fought bravely until 10:30am, scrounging the bodies of their dead allies for ammunition, until that ammunition ran out.
Minutes later an attempt to evacuate the beach was made with landing craft: these efforts largely failed due to enemy fire destroying the craft.
In total, the Essex Scottish left England with 553 officers and soldiers and returned with only 51.
Today we remember.