- Simon 'Peters' Biggs
Operation Jubilee - Amphibious Raid on Dieppe - 19th August 1942
Updated: Aug 23, 2020
The Dieppe Raid, Operation Jubilee, was an Allied attack on the German-occupied port of Dieppe during the Second World War.
The raid took place on the northern coast of France on 19 August 1942. The assault began at 5:00 a.m., and by 10:50 a.m. the Allied commanders were forced to call a retreat.
The raid involved 5,000 Canadians, 1,000 British troops, and 50 United States Army Rangers.
Objectives included seizing and holding a major port for a short period, both to prove that it was possible and to gather intelligence. Upon retreat, the Allies also wanted to destroy coastal defences, port structures and all strategic buildings.
The raid had the added objectives of boosting morale and demonstrating the firm commitment of the United Kingdom to open a western front in Europe.
Less than 10 hours after the first landings, the last Allied troops had all been either killed, evacuated, or left behind to be captured by the Germans.
Of the 6,086 men who made it ashore, 3,623 (almost 60%) were either killed, wounded or captured.
More Here: Combined Operations
Unit/ Formation: 40 Cdo RM
Period/ Conflict: World War II
Date/s: 19 August 1942
40 Commando was to destroy port facilities at Dieppe and form a reserve. They crossed the Channel in the river gunboat Locust and arrived off Dieppe at about 0530, before disembarking into several LCAs (Landing Craft Assault).
As Locust attempted to force the harbour entrance, she came under heavy fire from German batteries which the preliminary bombardment had failed to silence. She was repeatedly hit and her captain withdrew: meanwhile, the Canadians were pinned down on the beaches by heavy fire and barbed wire entanglements. 40 Commando was now ordered to land at the eastern end of the beach, but as the LCAs approached the shore they came under intense machine-gun and mortar fire.
The commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel JP Phillips, ordered them to retreat back out to sea. In his landing craft, however, Houghton continued towards the shore, moving to the centre of the beach where he stormed the sands, his LCA blowing up behind him. "Ironically the doctor was our first casualty," Houghton noted. "But further casualties quickly followed. We advanced as far as the promenade wall, where progress was barred by thick wire entanglements swept by enemy fire. Pinned in this position with practically no cover, unable to move forward and without any means of returning by sea, we concentrated our efforts on inflicting as much damage as possible on the enemy positions.
"Lacking any form of communication with our own forces, we continued until the official time of withdrawal had passed. The beach was strafed by our own aircraft at 1400 hours as part of the withdrawal programme, and it was just the luck of the draw that we found ourselves on the receiving end."
Of 370 officers and men in 40 Commando, 76, including Phillips, were killed. Houghton, after fighting against overwhelming odds, was taken prisoner, though for many months he was reported dead. Later that year, in an act of vengeance, Hitler ordered commando prisoners to be shackled, and Houghton was handcuffed for 411 days. Afterwards he was awarded an MC for his bravery at Dieppe and for his endurance as a prisoner of war.
Pinned in this position with practically no cover, unable to move forward and without any means of returning by sea, we concentrated our efforts on inflicting as much damage as possible on the enemy positions 'Titch' Houghton at Dieppe
40 Cdo RM Dieppe 1942 - Major-General 'Titch' Houghton (1912 - 2011)c
Unit/ Formation: Landing Craft Units
Period/ Conflict: World War II
Date/s: 19 August 1942
The major support craft, in action for the first time in daylight at Dieppe, had RM gun crews and were developments of LCF No. 1, at first designated a Beach Patrol Craft (BPC), with twin 4–in dual–purpose guns. This craft carried almost as much fire–power as cruisers of the 1930s, and off Dieppe she successfully engaged the German coast convoy which had scattered 3 Commando’s craft.
Other major support craft — the LCFlak (LCFs), each with four Oerlikons and eight 2-pdr Pom-Poms, and the LC Gun (Large) (LCG[L]s), each with two 4.7-in guns in open gun houses — had come into service during 1942.
At Dieppe LCF No. 2 closed White beach ‘with great gallantry ... to point–blank range ...’ and gave close support until she was disabled, her Captain killed, her guns put out of action one by one until she finally sank’. Another LCF (No. 5) came close to ‘shooting down an RAF Mustang, the first we have seen of this type’, as she neared White beach, while providing anti–aircraft cover for LCTs heading inshore with their Churchill tanks.
The LCF cruised some 400yds off the beach, getting its first Heinkel 111 soon after the tanks had been landed, although the craft was already under fire — ‘great holes ... torn in the bulkheads and terrible screams ... from the poor lads whowere mangled. I felt terribly sick’, one gunner writes ‘but God was with me, and I held out’.
The arrival of Spitfire squadrons about this time cheered everyone up, and the LCFs withdrew into the smoke about an hour after the landing. They lay a mile offshore for a short while, before going back in to spend the next three hours near the beach. Shelled, machine-gunned and taking casualties, they nevertheless were still inshore when the RM Commando was being withdrawn, ‘scores of unfortunates ... struggling in the water 200 yards from the beach ... most commandos and a few Canadians’.
The Marines’ gunnery officer of one LCF called for two volunteers when she was nearing the end of ‘what seemed like years, picking up survivors’, for he had seen wounded survivors, one with a leg blown off, clinging to a raft. Their rescuers took a dinghy through the heavy fire, reached the raft and rowed back with the survivors. A major air battle over the landing area resulted in greater RAF losses than German, but by this date the Germans were trying to conserve their aircraft.
with great gallantry ... to point–blank range ... and gave close support until she was disabled, her Captain killed, her guns put out of action one by one until she finally sank