Sunday, November 11, 2012

The beach at Puys

Marie-Josée Lafond 2009

Canadians dead on Blue Beach, Puys, Dieppe - August 1942

 German Federal Archives

On the Left Flank: Berneval and Puys

The situation on the left flank proved to be a disaster even before the first landing. An hour before the scheduled landing time, the ships carrying the No 3 British Commando encountered a German convoy with an armed escort. Fierce fighting followed that disorganized the manoeuvres of the landing crafts and only seven out of 23 reached the Berneval beach. The firing alerted the Germans who met the Commandos with strong opposition. Only one craft escaped the attention of the enemy and 17 men and three officers from No 3 Commando managed to land without being seen. Edging their way through a gully, an unbelievably bold movement, they got near their target, a German artillery position on the hill above Berneval. Unable to destroy it, they took shots at it with such intensity that for an hour and a half, the Germans were unable to take aim at the Allied ships.

The Royal Regiment of Canada, plus three Black Watch platoons and one artillery detachment, experienced unbelievable bad luck on the Puys beach. Their task was to neutralize machine-gun and artillery batteries protecting the Dieppe beach. Problems started during the crossing of the Channel and the barges arrived in disorganized waves, the first ones already twenty minutes behind schedule. By then, the darkness and smoke screens that should have concealed their arrival had been lifted and German defences were on high alert. As soon as they reached the shore, the men found themselves pinned against the seawall and unable to advance otherwise than in full view of the enemy. Since no ship could get close without being targeted and probably sunk, the survivors of the Royals and Black Watch were forced to surrender. Of the 556 men and officers of the Royal Regiment of Canada who sailed for Dieppe, over 200 lost their lives in action and 264 were captured, among them several wounded.