The Raid on Dieppe, France, on August 19, 1942, was a pivotal moment in the Second World War. With virtually all of continental Europe under German occupation, the Allied forces faced a well-entrenched enemy. Some method had to be found to create a foothold on the continent, and the Raid on Dieppe offered invaluable lessons for the successful D-Day invasion in 1944, saving countless lives in that momentous offensive.
Canadians made up the great majority of the attackers in the raid. Nearly 5,000 of the 6,100 troops were Canadians. The remaining troops consisted of approximately 1,000 British Commandos and 50 American Rangers. The raid was supported by eight Allied destroyers and 74 Allied air squadrons, eight belonging to the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). Major-General J.H. Roberts, Commander of the 2nd Canadian Division, was Military Force Commander, with Captain J. Hughes-Hallett, Royal Navy (RN) as Naval Force Commander and Air Vice-Marshal T.L. Leigh-Mallory as Air Force Commander.
Although extremely valuable lessons were learned in the Raid on Dieppe, a steep price was paid. Of the 4,963 Canadians who embarked for the operation, only 2,210 returned to England, and many of these were wounded. There were 3,367 casualties, including 1,946 prisoners of war; 916 Canadians lost their lives.