By the middle of 1942, the USSR was pressuring the British and the Americans to open up a second front against the Germans in Western Europe. WHY? They wanted the Germans to have to fight on two fronts. They had already lost over 1,000,000 men!
The Allies were not ready for a full-scale invasion of Western Europe just yet, but they were ready for a trial run (practice). Allied Generals believed that small practice raids would benefit them in the following ways: Test new techniques Test new equipment Test German defenses Find the best place to launch the full-scale invasion Make the Soviets a little happier
RESULT A decision was made to conduct a practice raid on the French port of Dieppe. The Canadians troops stationed in Britain were chosen to lead this raid. Up until this time, Canadians had seen very little action. They had been waiting in Britain, ready to defend it against a German invasion.
THE PLAN The raid was to take place like this: Four pre-dawn attacks along the coast near Dieppe. One main attack on the town of Dieppe half an hour later. Air force bombers would cover the Canadian troops as they attacked. The attack on the town would include the landing of tanks.
August 19, 1942 - The raid begins! From the very start, things started to go wrong! One of the ships carrying Canadian soldiers unexpectedly ran into a German convoy. A brief sea battle followed. The noise from this alerted the German troops on the coast. The ships were also delayed, so the troops didn’t reach the shore until after sunrise.
RESULT Canadian soldiers were machine gunned as soon as they reached the shore. Communication between the soldiers who had landed and the ships was very poor. Commanders on the ships believed that the raid was going well, so they kept sending reinforcements ashore. The new troops also became trapped on the beaches, becoming easy targets for the German machine gunners who were on top of cliffs that line the coast. The tanks couldn’t get enough traction on the pebbled beach and many were left immobile.
So why do we remember Dieppe today? More Canadians were killed that day than on any other day during WWII. Even though it was a disaster, it served as a great training exercise for the real invasion of German-held Europe
What did we learn from the Dieppe Raid? The invasion must be kept secret. It must begin under the cover of darkness. German defences must be weakened before the attack begins. Good communication between ships and soldiers on land is necessary. Absolute control of the sea and the sky is very important.
This battle was part of the Italian campaign. It took place in December of 1943, as the Allies were trying to push the Germans out of Italy. It involved Canadians (the Vandoos) who were trying to take over a small city called Ortona from the Germans. It was nicknamed “little Stalingrad” because the fighting was very similar to the fighting in Stalingrad.
What happened? The Canadians were facing Germany’s battle hardened First Parachute Division. The Germans had been ordered by Hitler to defend Ortona at any cost! The Germans had set up barricades, mines, traps, machine gun nests and anti-tank emplacements all over the town.
The Fighting Most of the fighting was house to house. Canadians avoided being shot while out in the streets by using a method called “mouse holing”. Because most buildings in Ortona were attached to each other, they were able to blow holes into the walls of the next room or building without leaving the one they were currently in. Then they would throw grenades through the mouse hole, before entering the room.
Victory On December 28, 1943, the Germans pulled out of Ortona. They were running out of men and supplies. After only 8 days of fighting, the Canadians had achieved a great, but very bloody victory: 1,375 Canadians died during the Battle of Ortona.