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A delayed victory at Dieppe

The Story

The second trip to Dieppe is nothing like the first. On Sept. 1, 1944, the entire 2nd Canadian Division marches unopposed into the French port and liberates it from the fleeing Germans. This time, they are greeted with cheers and flowers instead of bullets and bombs. As we hear in this clip, the triumphant return offers a degree of closure. As one Dieppe resident tells Matthew Halton, "our dear friends in the cemetery did not die in vain." 

Medium: Radio
Program: CBC Radio News
Production Date: Sept. 2, 1944
Reporter: Matthew Halton
Duration: 4:31

Did You know?

• The 2nd Canadian Division was formed during the First World War as part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. It was disbanded at the end of that war, and mobilized again on Sept. 1, 1939. Its soldiers first arrived in the United Kingdom in August 1940, and served there until the Dieppe raid. Casualties were so heavy that the division had to be reformed and retrained back in England.

• The 2nd Canadian Division returned to France a month after D-Day, and helped liberate Caen. They fought the remnants of the German army at Falaise, and pushed toward the Seine.

• On Sept. 1, 1944, the division returned to Dieppe as liberators, stopping to honour their dead at the cemetery there.

• The return to Dieppe was important for the men of the division. According to Hugh Victor Letendre, a rifleman with the Calgary Highlanders (and later leader of Canada's Aboriginal Veterans Association), "we were a proud bunch of boys. We all said at any cost that we would take Dieppe. But you know we never fired a shot. Germans gave up. I remember parading on Main Street, whole Canadian Army. And we come back."

• After liberating Dieppe, the division fought to clear the Scheldt Estuary in the western Netherlands and eastern Belgium, which opened up the Belgian port of Antwerp in November 1944. They then assisted in the drive to the Rhine River, going as far as Oldenburg, Germany. In July 1945, they returned to Holland, and were disbanded in October 1945.

• After the war, the town of Dieppe created a small park called Square du Canada, and erected the Dieppe-Canada Monument. Its base is inscribed with the words Nous nous souvenons (We Remember), and above it the French and Canadian flags fly side by side. Five kilometres south is the Dieppe Canadian War Cemetery, where 707 of the 944 graves are for Canadian dead. Because they were buried by the Germans in their own style, the headstones are placed back to back in long double rows.

• A plaque mounted on a wall behind the Dieppe-Canada Monument reads as follows (translated from French):

On the 19th of August 1942
on the beaches of Dieppe
our Canadian cousins
marked with their blood
the road to our final liberation
foretelling thus their victorious return
on September 1, 1944.


The Contentious Legacy of Dieppe more