Brian McFadden, Vancouver Island Military Museum vice-president, stands with Tracy Duggan, who inspired the creation of a new museum exhibit about the Dieppe raid when she brought her father’s military medals, which included the Dieppe Bar, to the museum. V.I. Military Museum’s exhibit about the controversial amphibious assault explores the underlying reasons behind the raid, revealed in documents declassified 50 years after the battle was fought. (CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin)

Brian McFadden, Vancouver Island Military Museum vice-president, stands with Tracy Duggan, who inspired the creation of a new museum exhibit about the Dieppe raid when she brought her father’s military medals, which included the Dieppe Bar, to the museum. V.I. Military Museum’s exhibit about the controversial amphibious assault explores the underlying reasons behind the raid, revealed in documents declassified 50 years after the battle was fought. (CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin)

REMEMBRANCE DAY: Dieppe declassified

Museum exhibit reveals truth about ill-fated Second World War mission

The raid on the French port village of Dieppe in August 1942 cost hundreds of Canadians their lives, is considered one of the worst defeats for the Allies of the Second World War and among the most controversial actions of Canada’s military history.

The true reasons behind Dieppe remained an enigma, so to speak, to Hitler’s military and, for more than 50 years, to historians until documents were declassified in the mid 1990s.

A new exhibit created by the Vancouver Island Military Museum displays uncloaked truths behind the amphibious assault, based on research by Canadian author and historian David O’Keefe, who sifted through 150,000 pages of declassified documents to discover Operation Jubilee was a massive diversionary tactic staged to allow a Royal Marines commando team to slip into the port and steal Germany’s latest-model Enigma communications encryption machine, hopefully without German intelligence realizing one went missing in the destruction the battle left in its wake.

“The reason they chose Dieppe for the raid was because it had a German naval headquarters where Enigma machines would be,” said Brian McFadden, Vancouver Island Military Museum vice-president. “It had armed trawlers in the inner harbour, which were all equipped with Enigma machines, so they decided we will have a raid on Dieppe.”

The plan went sideways when the commando unit tasked to land at Dieppe’s harbour entrance encountered and were attacked by a German naval patrol. With the element of surprise lost, German defenders were prepared and prevented the Canadians from taking out the harbour defences and supporting the Royal Marines objective.

“From what I can see it is by far the most extensive examination of Dieppe yet to appear,” O’Keefe said of his work, in correspondence with the News Bulletin. “Due mostly to good timing (releases of information) and new technologies (digital camera, the internet, etc.,) that allow the historian to go deeper than ever before with breadth and scope never imagined. We are definitely on the cusp of a revolution in historical investigation, interpretation and understanding.”

According to Veterans Affairs Canada, of 4,963 Canadians who took part in the operation, just 2,210 returned to England – many of those were wounded – and 916 Canadians died.

The idea for the V.I. Military Museum’s exhibit came up when Tracy Duggan of Nanaimo brought her father’s military service medals, including the Dieppe Bar, into the museum.

“It was very serendipitous,” said Duggan, who went to buy a plaque on the museum’s Veterans Wall of Honour for her father Walter Duggan who was at Dieppe.

“He was just an infantryman, so he was on one of the landing vessels that actually went on shore and they actually had to try and storm the beach,” Duggan said.

Walter Duggan was at Blue Beach, the landing point which saw the highest number of casualties, and was cited for his bravery under heavy fire that involved two attempts to get a mortar into action against the German defenders and carrying a wounded comrade to safety.

Prior to O’Keefe’s work, many of the survivors of Dieppe died without ever knowing why they were sent into that mission or why nearly 1,000 of their friends died there.

“Why we did our exhibit was to tell the families of all those people who fought and died there, there was a reason for the guys going there,” McFadden said. “Unfortunately they’ve laboured under the misapprehension all these years that their lives were just thrown away, that there was not a real purpose for the raid. Well, there was.”



photos@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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

Just Posted

Windy conditions in Nanaimo’s Lost Lake area. (News Bulletin file photo)
Wind warning issued for Nanaimo

UPDATE: 12:45 p.m. sailing from Duke Point to Tsawwassen cancelled due to ‘high winds and sea state’

A Nanaimo driver was sentenced Monday for fatally striking a high school student with his vehicle in 2019. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo driver sentenced after motor vehicle incident that killed teen last year

Brandon Geoffrey Murdoch fined and prohibited from driving for two years

The Vancouver Island Symphony’s Back Row Brass Quintet – including trumpeter Mark D’Angelo, tuba player Nick Atkinson and French horn player Karen Hough (from left) – were scheduled to tour the Nanaimo area with Christmas Under the Big Tent, but the concert series has now been cancelled. (Photo courtesy HA Photography)
UPDATE: Symphony brass quintet’s Christmas concert series cancelled

Performances were to happen at venues in Parksville and Lantzville next month

Adam Walker visits the VI Free Daily/PQB News studios. (Peter McCully photo)
AUDIO: Parksville-Qualicum’s new MLA eager to get to work

Adam Walker stops by PQBeat podcast studio to discuss politics and more

Firefighters try to put out a structure fire on the Island Highway in Nanoose Bay early Saturday morning. (Nanoose Bay Volunteer Fire Department photo)
Horses in nearby stable saved as building burns down in Nanoose Bay

Firefighters called out in the early-morning hours Saturday

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

Product Care offers more than <a href="http://link.mediaoutreach.meltwater.com/ls/click?upn=pDYyTceU0YgTDdsd92GohdQJsmSiPFEkcB4MdMM0Qkoqb1aJA-2By5aWklKJXV6QRdyTteNjr2FccUOVLUe4t5Zw-3D-3D1ds-_KVyBcpjXADXifSWVpM8nQcAzSm9-2B6fEFnjVrTsOcu31irDHDxi5k0QTOIWCqMXUxaNbrf0yRzXSSpROCkfx3NkUtbr65Dkcw1J0by-2F-2BDdDiJGbcfhtjHWYSs66NwakeCCLYkj20e9ICIZsLcedqNZKBhsN0sGgBsInpdzsddYikUZkmQvFdxLJhakpgAA6aAJ5ScUoWR6vO9sM819vRB-2F6x7dsdfIaWa4ZgHxR4G7hauxgSJCsNI2bP5J62EFfM0aiDqRPwUPUjt7i5-2FMqpdJxrEBewnLky-2B3lE0JAmi5UsJBkJejuLOjsndZz4b7dNgbvt6KyewKuF0sxU2rpYgkAO9YAKc9STuFJd28Qn7jE0-2FqlB8HKOvpW150NHS-2BOMBcK5rkZ8YAuPqJy11k-2BgndiKB-2FWl2icAfbWtRGJPb8fM-3D" target="_blank">150 free drop-off locations</a> in B.C. (Pixabay.com)
Recycling broken or burnt string lights can reduce holiday landfill waste

In 2019, Product Care Recycling diverted more than 11.6 million light bulbs from landfills

Helen Watson, posing for a photo for her 100th birthday, turned 105 on Saturday (Nov. 21). (File photo)
B.C. woman who survived Spanish Flu turns 105

Helen Watson has packed a lot into life – including being in two pandemics

(Black Press Media files)
B.C. to test emergency alert system on cell phones, TVs, radios on Wednesday

The alert is part of a twice yearly test of the national Alert Ready system

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

Phillip Tallio was just 17 when he was convicted of murder in 1983 (file photo)
Miscarriage of justice before B.C. teen’s 1983 guilty plea in girl’s murder: lawyer

Tallio was 17 when he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of his 22-month-old cousin

This undated photo issued by the University of Oxford shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday Nov. 23, 2020, that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90% effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
VIDEO: How do the leading COVID vaccines differ? And what does that mean for Canada?

All three of the drug companies are incorporating novel techniques in developing their vaccines

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the project site in Kitimat. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
41 positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak in Kitimat

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Most Read