The RCAF at Dieppe
Operation JUBILEE, the Allied raid on Dieppe, was primarily a Canadian operation. As such the sixty RCAF bombers and fighters patrolling the sky were feeling very protective and fought furiously. According to eyewitnesses “planes chased each other all over the sky”; August 19, 1942 has since been described as the greatest one-day air battle of the Second World War. Unfortunately, the RCAF’s efforts were not enough to change the outcome of the disastrous raid.
The RCAF placed a crucial role in the evacuation of Dieppe. After headquarters realized that the raid was a failure—916 Canadians were killed and another 1,946 captured during the operation—extra RCAF bombers and fighters were deployed to support the withdrawal. During the heavy fighting 106 Allied aircraft were shot down and thirteen Canadian airmen were killed.
Regarding Dieppe being a disastrous failure, recent research suggests that there may have been another Dieppe objective: the acquisition of a German Enigma machine, a plan involving Ian Fleming (yes, the Ian Fleming of James Bond fame). See this Toronto Star article, a book review of “One Day in August” (David O’Keefe).
To learn more about the RCAF role in the Dieppe raid, visit Veterans Affairs’ brief article describing the history of the RCAF here.
To learn more about Operation “Jubilee” (the Raid on Dieppe), see this quite comprehensive account here.
Main photo: Unidentified crewman with Douglas BOSTON aircraft of the Royal Air Force which took part in Operation JUBILEE. 19 Aug. 1942 (Credit: Library and Archives Canada/PA-183774).