the spring of 1942, the Allies faced several challenging
geographic fronts of occupation. The Germans had moved deep into Russia, the British
forced back into Egypt from North Africa, and in Western Europe, Allied forces
were up against the Germans across the English Channel.
the time the U.S. entered the war, most of Europe was under German
control. The Rangers had been in training at Achnacarry since June
1942 preparing to join the Allies in the war against this German
infiltration and occupation.
needed to develop a strategy and unite
their efforts against the German infiltration. A full-scale invasion of
Europe was not the answer, however it was decided to launch a
major raid on the French port of Dieppe. The purpose of this raid
was to establish authority and fear in the minds of the Germans as
to the strength and very presence of the Allied forces. It was
intended to alert the Germans to the united strength of the
Allies, as well as
to divert attention from the real strategy, which would involve
the invasion of North Africa, not Europe.
was to be a test of the coordination of the Allies in a
large-scale military operation, and also an evaluation of new
techniques and equipment. Thus, Dieppe was not launched as a
full-blown invasion of Europe, but as a diversionary tactic and a
rehearsal of sorts. Teamed with the
British Commandos, a few select Rangers participated in this
action and got their first experience in a combat
operation was given the code name Jubilee,
with the port of Dieppe on the French coast the objective. The
attack on Dieppe took place on August 19, 1942. The total count of
troops was in the thousands. The majority of these troops were
Canadians, with roughly one-thousand British Commandos. It was
felt that this would be the time to incorporate the newly trained
Rangers to expose them to an actual combat situation.
plan involved attacks at five different points off the beachhead
of Dieppe. Four simultaneous flank attacks were to go in just
before dawn, followed half an hour later by the main attack on the
town of Dieppe itself. A detachment of the 1st Ranger
Battalion consisting of six officers and forty-four enlisted men
took part with the British Commando and Canadian Forces in the
Rangers were attached to the mission of capturing the enemy
shoreline battery of six guns four and a half miles east of
Dieppe. As the assault force approached the coast of France in the
early hours of August 19, the landing craft of the eastern sector encountered a small German Flotilla of E Boats.
This resulted in a scattering of the boats carrying the
Canadians and Rangers. Many of these boats were washed into the shore resulting in several of the boats being capsized,
although some eventually reached their objective after this
chaotic start. Many of the men in the capsized boats, weighted
with gear and ammunition, drowned.
worst of this event was in the time wasted in reorganizing the
scattered boats. Several of them did reorganize and eventually
reached shore. The noise of the confrontation at sea alerted the
German coastal troops, making them well aware of the eminent raid. This
enabled the Germans to launch stiff opposition to the approaching
Rangers and Commandos who reached the shore.
a few men were able to get over the heavily wired seawall at the
head of the beach; those who did, were unable to get back. The
remaining troops, together with the Canadians (where
several Rangers were attached), were pinned on the beach by
German machine-gun fire, and were later forced to surrender.
was impossible. Of those who landed, several hundred were killed and
later of their wounds. Those remaining were taken prisoner.
Failure to clear the targets to the East of Dieppe enabled the Germans to
control the Dieppe
beaches and abort the main frontal attack.
In the West, some degree of surprise was achieved. In contrast to
misfortune encountered by the troops to the east, the Commando operation
(with four enlisted Rangers) was completely successful. The unit went in, successfully destroyed the guns in the
battery, and eventually withdrew to safety.
The main force pushed on towards their
objective (an inland airfield) and advanced toward Dieppe. They
too, were met with stiff opposition as the Germans dominated the
beaches, and the Allied troops in this sector were forced to
landing tanks also met with disaster. They landed too late, leaving the beached troops with no support during
the first critical minutes of the attack. When the tanks finally came ashore, they were met by stiff German opposition and
ground to a halt. Those that found their way onto the beaches were
met by concrete barriers where the tank crews became prisoners, or
died in battle.
raid also produced an air battle. While the Allied air
forces were able to
protection from the Luftwaffe for the ships off Dieppe, the cost
was high. The
Air Force lost over a hundred aircraft in the Dieppe Raid.
early afternoon, Operation Jubilee was over. Many experts argue to
this day as to the raid's value. Many feel it was a useless
slaughter; others feel that it was necessary for the successful
invasion of Normandy two years later on D-day, only a few
heavy price was paid on August 19, 1942. Rangers Lt. Joseph H. Randall and 2nd Lt Edward V. Loustalot,
were killed-in-action (KIA) at Dieppe. It is believed that
Randall, from the 1st Ranger Battalion, was the first U.S. ground
soldier to give his life in the European theater of World War II
(reference: Rangers in World War II, by Robert W. Black)