On a bright and sunny afternoon, Windsor and Essex County residents gathered to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Dieppe raids.
Members of the Essex and Kent Scottish Regiment, friends and family of veterans, elected officials and community members gathered around the monument placed in Dieppe Gardens to remember those who fought on the beach — code-named Red Beach — in France on August 19, 1942.
Five hundred and fifty-three soldiers from the region landed on the shores of Dieppe, only 51 of them made it back to England that night. One hundred and twenty-one soldiers were killed and most of the rest spent years in prisoner of war camps.
Those numbers are all too real for Alfred Rivait. He had three brothers who fought in the Dieppe raid. Two of them died on the beach and the other was taken to Germany as a prisoner.
"I couldn't even get their ages, the one that came back he never talked about the war he wanted nothing to do with it," Rivait explained. "He said you don't want to hear it."
Although Windsor has commemorated the lives that were lost at Dieppe for years, today was the first ceremony Rivait has ever been to.
"I never bothered," he said, wiping tears from his eyes. "It kind of brings back kind of bad memories."
Morris Brause, former commanding officer of the Essex and Kent Scottish Regiment led the day's ceremony. He says Dieppe was the first chance for Canadians to truly get involved in the Second World War, soldiers from Southwestern Ontario played a huge role in that.
"In our Canadian military history not every battle is won, so we should not just reflect upon those that are winning battles but we have to reflect on the tragedies also," Brause said. "This was a huge tragedy for this regiment but in the indelible spirit of Canada, this regiment rebuilt."
As people crowded around the commemorative wreaths placed at the foot of the Red Beach monument in Dieppe Gardens following the ceremony, Brause commented on the lives that were drastically changed 75 years ago to this day.
"There wasn't a family or friend that was not affected by this tragedy," he said. "Freedom doesn't come without a price and we must always remember that."