In the early hours of the 19th August, the British Combined Operations Command sent 252 ships, 6100 men and 30 Churchill tanks of the 14 Canadian Army Tank Regiment on a 'reconnaissance in force' across the Channel. The aim of Operation Jubilee was to seize and temporarily hold a major port.
The objective was the seaside town of Dieppe. A name, that has become synonymous with the worst defeat in Canadian military history and one of the greatest desasters of the war in Europe.
To this day there is much controversy (not to mention bitterness) as to this ill conceived operation.
The raid largely relied on the element of surprise, which was compromised when the force ran into a German convoy ( there was no contingency plan).
The subsequent noise of this exchange alerted the shore defences who were then able to coordinate a murderous machine-gun, shell and motar fire into the landing troops.
The tanks arrived late owing to a navigational error and were unable to support the infantry during the initial and critical phase of the landing. The supporting sea/air bombardment was too short and light. A sea wall and other man made defences barred the way into the town. The beach itself was covered with large pebbles known as chert, difficult to run on and multiplying the effect of shellfire.
Although the tanks had chespaling wooden carpets, these were not much use upon the ever shifting chert. Many of them became immobile pill-boxes after their tracks broke (stones got in between the drive sprocket and track-snapping the pins).
Onto my Diorama then ...
For me personally, the tank that best represents the battle, is the 'mount' of Lt Lambert of - 9 Troop-B Sqn.
'Blossom' sits burnt out at the front of the Casino, her waterproofing blown, her right track broken and resting at an angle in the chert. This tank is quite well documented and shows some difference of detail in every photo.
I thought I'd take 'Blossom' just before she's towed off the beach after most of the chespaling has been removed. The 'grease-ball' mechanic 'taking the mickey' out of the young Kriegsmarine sentry (" Oi half-pint, yell out if those buggers come back"!!) as the officer smirks on. (now we know who the photographer was !!)
The fourth 'beachcomber' has been put to work wrestling with one of the deep wading intakes and to offer some contrast to the officer I've fitted him with an 'intellectual visage'.
This 'Dio' was a tough one but I guess, a copy of an actual vehicle always is. Not easy to photograph either as the actual Casino was demolished by the Germans shortly after. Anyhow, I did the best I could and I've made a 'montage' with the last pic.
It has become popular to view the Dieppe raid as a life saver for D-Day with the argument, that many lessons were learnt. This came mostly from the Admiral that 'planned' the raid itself
(who shall remain unnamed here).
After reading all I could on this particular battle I could not disagree more.
No 'what if' or 'crystal ball' opinion can be an excuse for bad or non existant planning that leads to a debacle. The so-called new tactics developed as a result of the raid were known beforehand.
The planning for D-Day was already well underway, including specialist tanks, supporting fire and Mulberry harbours. If the raid itself reminds one of the situation at Omaha beach '44 they should not be compaired which each other.
The Germans did not become complacent about their coastal defences as Hitler had ordered directives for an Atlantik Wall (first fortifications in March '42 and a complete strech from Spain to Norway on the 13th August...six days before the battle). The fact that the Churchills were not able to climb the sea walls only reinforced (literally) German defence planning along the Atlantikwall.
The mind boggles at the decision to send in infantry that were only trained in the rolling English countryside and tank crews that had only trained on firm sandy beaches.
How could any accurate after action reports be made when the majority of the participants were either dead, POW's or too dazed to recall.
It was the experience of amphibious operations in other theaters that refined the meticolous D-Day planning and not the unnecessary carnage of Dieppe.
As one officer put it: "Nothing was learnt at Dieppe, exept how not to do it".
The men of 14 CATR fought to the end to give covering fire to their infantry but after some nine hours of slaughter the battle was over. Allied casualties reached 4100 (two thirds of the force)
907 Canadians were killed and 1874 POW. 29 tanks. RN 550 casualties (1 destroyer and 33 landing craft). RAF/RCAF 106 planes. 314 Germans were killed, 294 wounded,37 POW,48 aircraft.
Today Dieppe is the name of a peacefull resort. In military history it is a WORD for incompetence at the highest level and the valiant actions of the men who suffererd because of it.
" Sticks and Stones may brake my bones - but words will never hurt me" goes the old schoolyard chant ...
I reckon the silly sod that first wrote that one should try Dieppe on for size.
I seem to be in wreck-fever at the moment ...It's back to WW2 again or as I call it: 'The Last Crusade'.
This time the focus is on the Canadians and their failed raid on the sea town of Dieppe in 1942.
The subject is one of the many Churchill tank hulks that littered the chert beach on that August day.
I haven't built a diorama from the Third Reich viewpoint for some years now, so I think it's about time I did one from the 'other side of the coin'.
Building a scale model always brings with it some problems. Sometimes the research materiel is insufficient or contradictory, kit parts are missing, get damaged or require extra work.
There are often issues with parts that do not fit together, proportions, colour tones and accidents. Concentration and interest have to be maintained ... if the former is lost - even for a moment - mistakes are made, whereas if the latter dwindles ( and this happens a lot in the Dio world) then the whole project is 'shelved', forgottern or 'wasted' (thrown out).
However, building a diorama from original photo's of a specific AFV is .. well, how should I put it .. a bit of a moral killer.
This is because with an anonimous build, there is artistic licence. With a one to one 'exact' copy of an original scene you know from the start that despite your best efforts it will/cannot be as
it truely was.
Nevertheless, I'm going to give this particular example my best shot. I do have some things on my side though.
The tank that I've selected is 'BLOSSOM' and all the original photo's I've seen so far, indicate various stages of work around her. So, I don't have to go 'pebble sorting' on this one.
Right ... off we go!
The stuff: AFV 'Dieppe' Churchill, some Dragon German marine figures, the exellent 'Through the Lens' research book ( the Ospreys for the internals) spare bits and bobs.
I took some pic's of my notes. Feel free to download them ... but remember:
For ' Blossom' only !!
Now the tricky bit:
The thing is, that the bullshorns-type exhausts for deep wading are more suited to the later types of Churchills.
I've removed a set here from my 'Hobo's Bin' Dio to demonstrate the difference.
Judging by the book, they are not only a lot higher but slightly thinner and curve differently. They also fit parallel into the exhaust.
Using some black spure, I marked and bent them over a soldering iron. With this technique, I was able to compare and control very easily the form up against the pictures and on my model.
I'll have to use a bit of resin kit to make them more even, but after dry testing on the model, they seem to sit very well when compared to the photo's.
Remains of the day... what a waste!
Alas, I have lost interest for today, so I'll 'shelve' this one for next year!
'AV A GOOD 'UN ... CATCH YOU ON THE FLIP SIDE !!
Internals finished, nothing too fancy as very little can be seen through this particular hatch configuration. Bearing in mind that 'Blossom' was in a smouldering state after the battle, I've just done a rough 'through the hatch' this time.
Model dry fitted - pre internal airbrush ... Deep wading exhausts fitted ...
First steps on the figures.
The story so far ... figures 'kitted' up and sprayed white so as to identify mistakes more easily
(yes, there are many). Fighting compartment primed.
Stageing: 'Blossom' sits at rather a strange angle, so I thought I'd position my figures according to her outline in the chert.
This week I'll go over the figures again and see how much more life I can breathe into them.
Not much in the way of progress tonight - tank,tracks and uniforms have been base coated (acrylic), flesh areas in oil.
Here we go again.... from left to right - base coat, first washing, second washing with decals.
Yes I know it's too green but all this will be toned down even further with the weathering etc.
The four 'beach bums' are almost complete, it takes time for the oil paint to dry out completly hence the gloss ... don't worry it'll be allright on the night !!