Dieppe veterans visit French town marking their sacrifice
Published Monday, August 20, 2012 10:15PM EDT
Seventy years after they landed on the beaches of Dieppe to take part in the disastrous Second World War raid, seven Canadian veterans visited one of the nearby small towns that continue to commemorate their sacrifice.
After attending ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Dieppe on the weekend, the veterans travelled to Pourville, France, on Monday, a small community that pays its respects every year to the hundreds of Canadian soldiers who were killed during the battle.
“I’ve never, ever seen a turnout like we got every place we’ve been,” Dieppe veteran Russ Burrows, of Picton, Ont., told CTV News. “We must be really appreciated.”
The remaining veterans are all in their 90s now and recognize that this may be their last chance to revisit the pebble beach where so much Canadian blood was spilled, and connect with the grandchildren of the people whose freedom they fought for.
Sgt. Will Warden, whose grandfather fought at Dieppe, said he was overwhelmed with emotions as he played the bagpipes Monday for the veterans and local dignitaries.
“It was really hard to play and hard not to be overcome because it has so much meaning for me and my family,” he said.
Of the 5,000 Canadian troops who stormed Dieppe in Nazi-occupied France on Aug. 19, 1942, more than 900 were killed within hours. Nearly 2,500 others were wounded or taken prisoner.
Thousands of people lined the streets of Dieppe on Sunday to greet the few remaining survivors of the raid. The veterans wore bright red poppies and proudly saluted as the Canadian flag was raised.
The veterans’ final stop Monday was a tiny local museum that features a tribute to the Battle of Dieppe and the liberation of France two years later.
“We must make sure that such a tragic event for our Canadian cousins is never forgotten here,” the museum’s curator said.
With a report from CTV’s Ben O’Hara-Byrne