RCAF’s Roy Wozniak Above Dieppe
As we look back on the Dieppe Raid and its significance, it’s important to acknowledge the contributions of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and the large-scale air battle taking place in the skies above.
On August 19th, 1942, 60 fighting aircraft from the RCAF alongside many more from the Royal Air Force (RAF) attempted to aid the invading ground forces at Dieppe. During the raid, 10 Canadian pilots would lose their lives, 70 were reported missing, and 106 RAF aircraft were destroyed. The Germans on the other hand, suffered only 88 destroyed aircraft according to an after-action report on the event. This combined action exposed major flaws in the RCAF’s ground support that had to be rectified if the Allies wished to make another land invasion.
Roman (Roy) Wozniak from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan was one of the luckier RCAF fighter pilots that participated in the air support that day. Even after taking a direct hit from a German anti aircraft cannon, Wozniak was able to safely land his Spitfire and walk away in one piece. Roy recalls the impact of the shell “like being hit by a sledgehammer. The Armoured plate saved me, the shrapnel hit the plate behind my seat, but one piece lodged in the heel of my boot…”. Wozniak would survive the war and return to Canada to work in West Vancouver, where he passed away in 2017.
The lessons learned from the Dieppe Raid were costly. The day will always remain a tragic memory for Canadians everywhere because without the sacrifice by these brave soldiers, future invasions of Europe would not have been nearly as successful.
View an “After-Action Report” describing the Dieppe air operations, here: Canadian Military History 2012:12:4. Also see the Legion Magazine’s, the Air over Dieppe. For a very brief history of the RCAF, please see this Veteran’s Affairs entry.
Main photo: Roman Wozniak and fitter Sergeant Delong sitting on the wing of what appears to be an RCAF Spitfire with Lucy the mascot puppy. (Credit: Squadron Dogs of the Second World War/In Praise of The Squadron Dog/ Vintage Wings of Canada)