Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.

A fallen Canadian soldier with a bullet hole in his helmet lies on the pebble beaches of Dieppe after the failed Dieppe Raid (Operation Jubilee) on 19 August 1942.

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The Dieppe raid was one of those “So crazy it just might work” raids that didn’t work. Poor bastards.

“The Dieppe Raid, also known as the Battle of Dieppe, Operation Rutter and, later, Operation Jubilee, was a Second World War Allied attack on the German-occupied port of Dieppe. The raid took place on the northern coast of France on 19 August 1942. The assault began at 5:00 a.m. and by 10:50 a.m. the Allied commanders were forced to call a retreat. Over 6,000 infantrymen, predominantly Canadian, were supported by a Canadian Armoured regiment and a strong force of Royal Navy and smaller Royal Air Force landing contingents.

Objectives included seizing and holding a major port for a short period, both to prove that it was possible and to gather intelligence. Upon retreat, the Allies also wanted to destroy coastal defences, port structures and all strategic buildings. The raid had the added objectives of boosting morale and demonstrating the firm commitment of the United Kingdom to open a Western front in Europe.

Virtually none of these objectives were met. Allied fire support was grossly inadequate and the raiding force was largely trapped on the beach by obstacles and German fire. After less than 10 hours since the first landings, the last Allied troops had all been either killed, evacuated, or left behind to be captured by the Germans. Instead of a demonstration of resolve, the bloody fiasco showed the world that the Allies could not hope to invade France for a long time. Some intelligence successes were achieved, including electronic intelligence.

A total of 3,623 of the 6,086 men (almost 60%) who made it ashore were either killed, wounded, or captured. The Royal Air Force failed to lure the Luftwaffe into open battle, and lost 96 aircraft (at least 32 to flak or accidents), compared to 48 lost by the Luftwaffe. The Royal Navy lost 33 landing craft and one destroyer.”

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*The lessons learned at Dieppe would be applied at Normandy: they realized that it was better to attack near a port, then capture it, rather than attack the port directly. If they’d tried to do that with Overlord, D-Day could have gone very wrong. (There are many advantages that built-up areas, large sea walls etc. give to the defender. Wide open beaches don’t generally have as many ready defensive structures, and in a port the attackers would tend to have to concentrate in smaller areas which makes the defender’s job easier.)

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