It’s been tough to open a newspaper or turn to a news broadcast the last two weeks or so.
Virulent racism, overt fascism and callous violence are rampant in the wake of Charlottesville, VA. Two supposed world “leaders” have been engaged in preposterous posturing, while issuing an escalating series of school yard threats that might be dismissed as absurd – if both these nations did not possess weapons of mass destruction.
Small wonder then that a lot of us ordinary people are feeling frightened, a bit hopeless and even a little pessimistic.
Given these troubled times then, it might seem rather strange to ask people to recall an event that took place on August 19, 1942, nearly 75 years ago. After all, the Dieppe Raid was a military disaster. In the war which was fast spreading across the planet in ‘42, this Canadian disaster appeared to be one more grim entry in a bitter line of Allied catastrophes, routs and failures.
It was an operation ironically code-named Jubilee.
With the benefit of hindsight, historians today try to “explain” why the Calgary Regiment, Les Fusiliers de Mont-Royal, the Essex Scottish, the Royal Hamiltons and the Royal Regiment of Canada were sent to storm a French beach August 19 in what became known as the Dieppe Raid.
A second front to please Joseph Stalin? A test of Hitler’s defences? A dry run for D-Day? A raid staged to divert attention while commandos elsewhere attempted to seize an Enigma Code Machine?
No matter. The Dieppe Raid went wrong. Dug in German defences were on alert before the first landing craft even caught sight of the beach. ‘Tourist’ maps and charts issued to officers were incorrect. High cliffs and rugged stone walls made tanks useless. Allied air support was called off. And soldiers can’t dig fox holes in beach pebbles while raked by machine gun fire. Canadians’ dogged courage and sheer grit were not enough that day in August, 1942. The good guys “lost.”
So why recall the Dieppe Raid in our current troubled times?
Because the fight of 1942 was a fight against brutality and racism and violence. In 2017 it still is. Remember, the Allies may have lost Dieppe, but they came roaring back in 1945, and won World War II.
Hang in there. Stand firm against the bullying forces of violence and bigotry. And when you feel knocked down, get up and come roaring back.