The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation covered the Dieppe Raid firsthand. War correspondent Robert Bowman was embedded with the Canadian troops and found himself amid the chaos of Aug. 19, 1942. He broadcast his observations across Canada over the nation’s radio airwaves the next day.
"We have suffered heavy losses, and I saw our men die," says Bowman in his first broadcast upon returning from the bloody beaches of Dieppe.
The reporter traveled with Calgary’s tanks and scribbled notes of what he witnessed, “some written in the darkness and some written in heavy gunfire.” The next day he read from his grim-covered notebook over CBC Radio, describing the casualties and the actions of the men around him.
Somehow, under attack by hand grenades and dive-bombers, with shells falling and tanks sinking around him, Bowman remained lucid enough to write both precisely and poetically.
“The fighters look like swallows but in geese formation … the sky is streaked with fighting fools,” he reads.
Listen to Bowman’s Aug. 20, 1942 broadcast here:
Bowman’s riveting account serves as a vital piece of history. Despite the limits of technology at the time, his broadcast on the CBC was able to provide Canadians with observations of the Dieppe Raid within hours of the atrocities.
CBC Radio was one of the few links Canadians at home had to their loved ones abroad. It first hit the airwaves in 1936. So when the Second World War broke out in 1939, it became a pioneer in broadcasting overseas.
Bowman was CBC's first foreign correspondent. He had initially been sent to the United Kingdom with Canada's first deployment of troops and was assigned as an "observer" to cover the overseas mission. But after Bowman and his colleague, engineer Art Holmes, arrived in London, CBC management decided to keep the two in the country. They set up the CBC's first foreign bureau, the Overseas Unit.
CBC continued to cover the Dieppe Raid in various capacities, including numerous interviews with veterans over the years.
For more CBC coverage of the Dieppe Raid, see the CBC’s digital archives here.See an animated map of the Dieppe Raid