Canadians mark 70 years since devastating Battle of Dieppe
Published Saturday, August 18, 2012 9:42PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, August 18, 2012 11:21PM EDT
A series of ceremonies throughout Canada and France this weekend are marking the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Dieppe, one of the deadliest battles in Canadian military history.
In a statement, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Saturday that the raid is one of the darkest chapters of the Second World War.
“A pivotal moment in the Second World War, the Dieppe raid occurred at a time when virtually all of Europe was under German occupation,” Harper said.
Of the 6,000 mainly Canadian soldiers who landed on the coast of the then heavily-occupied Nazi stronghold on Aug. 19, 1942, more than half were killed, captured or injured.
Nearly 2,000 Canadians became prisoners of war, some for years, and 913 Canadians were killed on the French northern coast.
“As we mark this anniversary, we say thanks to the thousands of selfless Canadians who fought for our country on this solemn occasion,” Harper said.
He added that the raid offered important lessons that would eventually help the Allied forces during the D-Day invasion two years later.
Veteran Arthur Rossell, now 92, spent 18 days in a coma following the Dieppe battle. He told CTV News he considers himself one of the lucky ones.
“The Germans could see us perfectly, just like sitting ducks in a pond,” said Rossell. “So many of the boys dropped dead.”
The Brampton, Ont. resident was one of seven Second World War veterans visiting the site of the bloody battle this weekend.
Canada’s Gov. Gen. David Johnston and Veteran Affairs Minister Steve Blaney participated in ceremonies in Dieppe on Sunday at the Square du Canada and the Dieppe Canadian War Cemetery.
Ceremonies are also scheduled for the Pourville Memorial in France and the National War Memorial in Ottawa.
With a report from CTV News’ Ben O’Hara-Byrne