Dieppe Raid Canceled
by Jeff Provine
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On August 19th 1942,
in the midst of the darkest times of the Second World War, Germany and its
allies had conquered most of Europe, devastated much of Britain with the
Blitz, invaded the Soviet Union, and dug in over most of North Africa.
Stalin demanded the rest of the Allies open a new front with Germany, but
Americans and Britons disagreed where. FDR wanted to move directly on
Europe, while Churchill hoped to check the Axis expansion into Africa and
then strike at the "soft underbelly of Europe".
As an exercise in logistics as well as to prove that Europe was not as
wholly invincible as the Axis wanted to believe, Operation Jubilee
(earlier known as Operation Rutter) was designed as a combined Canadian
and British raid on the French port city of Dieppe. They would seize the
major port, though holding it permanently would be out of the question.
Two days before the launch, the Daily Telegraph published a crossword with
the answer of the clue "French port (6)" as Dieppe. Suspicious, an
investigation was launched under Lord Tweedsmuir and MI5. The report
showed that the answer may have been a fluke, but Allied command decided
not to risk the chance. Just after midnight, the mission was canceled, and
the test of raiding had to be conducted elsewhere.
"A Norwegian Operation in 1942 would have been a
disaster" - reader's commentChurchill suggested moving forward with
Operation Torch into North French Africa, but Stalin was furious at having
to face Hitler's European armies alone. The cancellation at Dieppe made it
seem as if the Allies were not even attempting to support the Soviet
Union. Britain needed to strike somewhere to keep face, and finally the
exiled King Haakon VII of Norway offered a suggestion. His country had
been invaded by Germany two years before and gave fair resistance. With
Norway's ports and airfields at Hitler's command, the Battle of the
Atlantic continued as Nazi forces could penetrate the North Atlantic
around British blockades. Churchill fell to agreement, and the raid was
planned for the end of the month.
Using many of the resources already in place for Dieppe and adding much
more, an Allied fleet of British, Canadians, and volunteer Americans left
Scotland while battleships protected their flank from U-boats. The force
landed at Trondheim in the middle of Norway, catching the German forces
unawares. After a major struggle, the port was captured. German forces
fell back to regroup for counterattack.
Just as Churchill prepared to pull back the assault with his point proven,
word of the liberation had spread throughout the country. Rumors said that
the raid was the establishment of a beachhead to march in forces for the
overthrow of German invaders. The whole country erupted into rebellion,
and the Germans were unable to conduct their counterattack. The Allies
were left with an accidental foot in the door of Scandinavia.
At the urging of FDR and Stalin, Churchill opened up reserves of troops
meant for Africa and poured them into Norway. With only a few real weeks
left before winter set in, the Allies seized as much ground as they could.
Hitler sent reinforcements wherever they could be spared from the Russian
front, but continual assault from Norwegian sabotage and snipers slowed
down the German counterattack. By November 1942, when the weather halted
large military movements, Norway had been split with the north in the
hands of the Allies.
During the winter, Operation Torch moved the main battles south to Africa,
but Hitler was furious at the loss of gained ground in Europe. In spring
of 1943, Africa fell due to lack reinforcements, all of which Hitler had
reassigned to retake Norway. German forces departed from Denmark and began
to raze the countryside as nearly continual fighting pressed the defending
Allies back. Resources were stretched thin as the Allies pressed with
Operation Husky to take Sicily, which succeeded on August 17. Italy fell
apart, and Hitler had to shift soldiers to control what of Italy remained,
ending the major assaults in Norway. Patton was reassigned to Norway, and
the Americans pushed down the peninsula long after the rational fighting
season had ended.
In spring of 1944, Operation Checkmate began with the amphibious invasion
of Denmark. Smaller raids kept German forces occupied in Italy, Finland,
Poland, Vichy, and Normandy in northern France, but the brunt of the
attack was focused on piercing Germany. Supported by superior air power
from Norwegian airbases, Allies were able to leave behind many of the Nazi
satellite countries and strike straight for Berlin. Seeing that the end of
the war was coming soon, Germans rebelled against an increasingly frantic
Hitler. Upon the overthrow and execution of Hitler on October 12, 1944,
the war with Germany was finished. Through the course of the next months,
the puppet governments around Europe fell while bloody anarchy reigned
over most of the continent.
At the Treaty of Yalta in 1945, Europe was broken up among the Allies for
occupation and reconstruction. The Soviet Union became responsible for
Eastern Europe, while Britain and America handled most of the West. North
and South France were broken into occupied zones until being eventually
reunited in 1955. Scholars understand that the real winners of the war was
America, as the USA captured nearly all of the German scientists promoted
by the Nazi government. Taking something of a generational leap ahead in
development over the rest of the world, along with singly controlling
atomic bomb technology until successful Soviet tests in 1954, America
became the undisputed world leader for the rest of the twentieth century.
says in reality, the crossword puzzle was found, to quote Lord
Tweedsmuir, to be "just a remarkable coincidence". Other double agents,
however, had notified German authorities about the raid, and Dieppe as well
as other ports were on high alert. The attack began at 5 AM, and within six
hours the order to retreat had been given. Thousands of Allied troops,
primarily Canadians, were killed, wounded, or captured. The experience would
teach many lessons about amphibious landings that would be put into use in
North Africa and Normandy through the rest of the war.
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