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On June 22nd 1941 Hitler launched the largest military invasion in history when German forces crossed the German Soviet boarder and drove deep into the heart of mother Russia. By December the Panzer groups had been slowed down by winter and mud and just barely missed taking Moscow. Stalin had joined the British Empire in allying against the Germans and their allies in Europe almost as soon as the invasion had begun and called for a second front to be launched in France by England to relieve the pressure on the Soviet Union. England possessed neither the troops or the resources to do this in 1941 and was barely able to hang on in the North African desert against Rommel and the Africa Korps. In 1942 Hitler once again planned and implemented a large attack against Russia with the objective being the oil fields in the Caucasus. As Russian resistance crumbled Stalin again asked for and then demanded that Churchill do something to relieve the pressure on the Soviet front by invading France. Although the U.S. was by this time in the war as a part of the Grand Alliance with Britain and Russia, there was still not enough forces on hand to invade Nazi occupied France.

The Canadian troops in England had seen little or no action since arriving in December of 1939 and the allied leaders felt that as a show of support for the Soviets, a large scale raid on the French coast might convince Hitler to divert some of the precious military formations from the Russian front in order to shore up and strengthen defenses along the coast of France. It was decided to use some of the Canadian troops for just such an operation, with some British commandos and some US Rangers.

On the morning of August 19, 1942 the French coastal town of Dieppe awoke to the sound of battle as 6000 allied troops, (5000 Canadians) hit the beaches. They met fierce resistance immediately and although some initial success brought them a few miles inland, they were soon pushed back to the beachhead and forced to evacuate. Over 900 Canadians were killed and many other were captured while the debate began immediately as to whether the operation was a success or a failure. The results did prove to Stalin that the British, Canadian and American allies were willing to try and help where possible and that an invasion of France was not yet possible. The Canadian 2nd Division had been badly bloodied and would have to spend time rebuilding.

Another landing on the French coast, known as the Atlantic wall would not be attempted again until June 6th ,  1944. 


Dieppe film footage