Yesterday 19 August 2012 was the 70th anniversary of the ill fated raid by British and Canadian Forces on the Coastal Town of Dieppe in Occupied France. At approximately 5:00 a.m. that morning the landing craft carrying 6,086 infantry approached the beaches and 5 hours later the raid was over with the allies withdrawing sustaining over 3600 casualties. This was the darkest hour in Canadian Military History. The raid was a disaster with most never making it off the beaches. Trapped behind the sea wall they took devastating fire from the German position on the High ground on either flank. Here for almost 5 hours these young Canadian Soldiers bled and died. 707 made the ultimate sacrifice.
Yesterday 5 survivors of that bloody day, all in their nineties, paid homage to their fallen comrades along with a group of British veterans, and the people of Dieppe. These 707 young gallant warriors from every part of Canada live on in our memories as they should . For if there is Honour in war they surely earned it. Left behind where they fell they were buried with full military honours by their foe, the German Army, and so they sleep in the quiet countryside of Normandy.
Canada maybe the second largest country in the world but her population has always been small. Yet out of all proportion to that small population she has always answered the call to arms to protect freedom. It is difficult to explain how a country like ours, quite, peace loving, and non-aggressive can produce such indomitable fighting spirit when the need arises. Our Armed Forces have a well earned and deservedly high reputation in the Art of Warfare. Yet for all the Glory and Honour they have won, we do not boast. When called we go, do the job, and come home with the quiet knowledge that we did well. There is a line in the movie Passchendaele that says something like this. “We fight because we are good at it and we are good at it because we have been doing it for a long time.” Soon all our old vets will be gone but it is the nature of our world that there will be younger ones to replace them. Never forget them for we are who we are because of them and their sacrifice to duty.