Penticton man in France to mark fateful Dieppe Raid

A Penticton man is representing his late father at the Dieppe ceremony in France

Bodies on the Puys beach the afternoon of the Dieppe Raid on Aug. 19, 1942. Submitted photo

It will be 75 years ago Saturday, along a rocky shoreline on the northwest coast of France, that the Canadian military suffered its bloodiest loss of the Second World War.

The ill-fated, pre-dawn raid near the resort town of Dieppe would eventually claim the lives of 916 of the nearly 5,000 participating Canadian troops.

Archie Sudbury (left) in uniform and a friend just after he joined the armed forces in 1937.
Submitted photo

Located at a break in the heavily defended cliffs, the region had been chosen in part because of it being within range of British fighter planes, which were to support the amphibious attack.

The Allies too suffered badly, losing 119 aircraft, their worst single-day plane losses of the war.

Code named “Operation Jubilee” more than 6,000 troops in total came ashore at five points along a 16-kilometre stretch of fortified coastline.

Things immediately went bad for the men as the German resistance intensified and the harsh terrain only added to the problem.

Many men were taken off the beaches under heavy fire. However, by the afternoon, the remaining Canadians were forced to surrender.

The Dieppe Raid was over.

Nearly 2,000 Canadians were taken prisoner and forced to spend two-plus years in the harsh German prisoner of war camps.

Marking the anniversary again this year in France is Penticton’s Bob Sudbury. His father Archie, although he did not take part in the raid, was a member of the 16th Battery 3rd LAA (Light Anti-Aircraft) Regiment that did.

Sudbury remembers sitting by himself in the Puys war cemetery on his Nov. 11, 2003 visit to France.

“The French did it (observed Remembrance Day) on the 10th but I didn’t know that so I took a city bus on Nov. 11 and it was foggy when I got there with my wreath,” recalled Sudbury. “I was all alone and then at 11 o’clock the sun came out and I sat there looking at all these graves and then I put poppies and a cross in front of the graves of the guys from my dad’s battery. But sitting there in the fog and just thinking…

“I don’t want this to be forgotten. If it wasn’t for guys like that we don’t know what we would be doing. We have to remember things like that especially now with all this stuff with Korea and Trump and how quick it can be to get into a conflict.”

Sudbury, who is vice-president of the Penticton branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, is also the historian for his dad’s battery.

He went to Puys, a few kilometres north of Dieppe, last year in an unofficial capacity.

Having previously talked to veterans who were there on that fateful day has brought the horror of that time home for him.

“I get respect from the people there when I go for what the Canadians sacrificed,” he said, unable to choke back the tears. “It’s very emotional, thanking the guys, meeting the guys who were there, who were wounded. Once you’ve been there and seen it, it’s a very moving thing.”

His father passed away in 2011 at the age of 91, one week before the artillery’s annual reunion.

What Sudbury especially likes are the large number of kids from the French region who attend the ceremonies.

“Last year when I was in Puys (France), there’s all these little school kids wearing black and white and I asked one of the parents who they were,” said Sudbury. “They said these are the children of Puys and every year they lay wreaths here. I had a bag full of poppies from my legion, like I do this year, and I said ‘would they like a Canadian poppy?’ and it was like Santa showed up.”

He also recalled a time when he took his elderly father to a Remembrance service at Vancouver College.

Bob Sudbury of Penticton will be representing his father and the Penticton Royal Canadian Legion Saturday at the services marking the 75th anniversary of the Dieppe Raid.
Mark Brett/Western News

Helping kids understand the sacrifice of veterans is also a large part of why each year he goes to Holy Cross School to help children there celebrate Remembrance Day.

According to Sudbury, his father always regretted not being at Dieppe with his men but he was in Normandy for D-Day.

And while the Dieppe Raid will go down as one of the darkest and bloodiest times in Canada’s military history, thanks to the efforts of Sudbury and others, those who made the ultimate sacrifice will not be forgotten.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Beefs & Bouquets, Aug. 12

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Nanaimo Art Gallery summer campers explore private, public spaces in new show

Dazzle Camouflage participants to unveil painting and video projects online next week

‘Unstoppable’ Nanaimo nurse recognized for work caring for survivors of assault

Island Health’s Aimee Falkenberg receives Canadian Forensic Nurses Association’s Visionary Award

Regional District of Nanaimo urges residents to sign up for new emergency alert system

RDN aligns its alert technology with Nanaimo, Parksville and Qualicum Beach

‘Food 4 Summer’ campaign in Nanaimo receives $10,000 from Island Savings

Loaves and Fishes trying to build new donor relationships during pandemic

Teachers to get 2 extra days to prepare for students’ return, now set for Sept. 10

Students will first start with orientation and learn rules of COVID-19 classroom policies

More charges laid against man accused of killing Red Deer doctor in walk-in clinic

Appearing before a judge, Deng Mabiour, 54, rambled about being sick and needing a doctor

Teen killer Kelly Ellard gets day parole extension, allowing up to 5 days at home

Ellard is serving a life sentence for the 1997 murder of 14-year-old Reena Virk

Andrew Scheer likely marking last day in House of Commons as Opposition leader

Today’s Commons sitting is one of two scheduled for August

Deaths feared after train derails amid storms in Scotland

Stonehaven is on the line for passenger trains linking Aberdeen with the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow

DFO says 5 aggrieved B.C First Nations were consulted on fisheries plan

Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations calls response ‘a sham,’ adding DFO never incorporates their views

Man arrested after stabbing incident at makeshift camp near Vancouver Island mall

RCMP in Parksville report 28-year-old man taken into custody without incident

Lower Mainland woman gives birth on in-laws’ driveway

Frédérique Gagnon new son is appropriately named after Norse trickster god

Most Read