Tuesday, February 17, 2015
The Mk.I and Mk.II Churchills often seen in photos of the disastrous Dieppe raid.
The Dieppe Raid was planned to temporarily take control of the French port of Dieppe using a strong force of about 6,000 troops - mostly drawn from inexperienced Canadian units. The operation, codenamed Rutter, would test the feasibility of opposed landings. Nearly 60 Churchill tanks from the Calgary Regiment were allocated to support the infantry and commandos; they would be put ashore by landing craft. Some problems were anticipated and allowed for: waterproofing of the hulls, canvas carpets to aid the tanks crossing the shingle beach, engineer teams to demolish obstacles and a few of the tanks were fitted with flamethrowers. In the event, the German defences were strong and several tanks in each of the four "waves" were lost on, or before reaching, the beach. Only fourteen got off the shore and past the sea wall. Although effective in engaging the defenders in the town's buildings their progress was blocked by concrete defences; the demolition teams - killed or pinned on the beach - had not been able to accompany the tanks. Some tanks were able to return to the beach once a withdrawal had been signalled but none were taken off. Nearly 70% of the Canadians were killed, injured or captured and none of the raid's objectives were met.