Fred Engelbrecht, one of Hamilton's last Dieppe veterans, dies at 98

A Hamilton veteran who was one of the last known survivors of the Dieppe raid has died.

Engelbrecht was a prisoner of war for 3 years

Fred Engelbrecht went to Dieppe, France four times, including for the initial raid in 1942. (Kate Adach/CBC)

A Hamilton veteran who was one of the last known survivors of the Dieppe raid has died.

Fred Engelbrecht, 98, died Wednesday morning. He was one of 582 Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (RHLI) soldiers who landed on the beach on Aug. 19, 1942, and was captured as a prisoner of war. With his death, there is just one other surviving veteran of the raid from the RHLI.

"I will never forget Dieppe," Engelbrecht told CBC News in 2012, just before he flew to France to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the raid.

"I remember everything like it was yesterday. I could walk you through everything that happened on the beach."

The RHLI regiment tweeted news of Engelbrecht's death Wednesday, calling him "a welcome presence at almost all regimental functions. He shall be missed by all."

Ken Curry, 95, of Sidney, BC, is now the last surviving RHLI member who fought in the Dieppe raid.

Of the 582 RHLI soldiers who landed that fateful morning, only 211 of them returned to England that afternoon, most of them injured. Another 197 men were killed, and 174 taken as prisoners-of-war. Engelbrecht was among the latter.

Fred Engelbrecht, right, and Jack McFarland were both captured in the raid on Dieppe during the Second World War on Aug. 19, 1942. ((Adam Carter/CBC))

He and others were tied and shackled for months, and endured years of forced labour. In 1945, they trekked a grueling "death march" across Poland to Germany.

Engelbrecht talked about the experience in 2012 when he went to France with Veterans Affairs Canada. He said he'd been four times, including the initial raid.

Despite experiencing so much trauma, he said, he enjoyed going back.

"I meet old friends," he said. "It's nice for me."

Mayor Fred Eisenberger issued a statement about Engelbrecht Wednesday.

Hamilton veteran Fred Engelbrecht walked the parade route in Dieppe in 2013 as the 70th anniversary of the failed raid was remembered. (Bill Curran/Special)

Engelbrecht was born in Hamilton on March 13, 1920, Eisenberger said, and enlisted on April 6, 1940. After the military, he joined the Hamilton Fire Department and became a lieutenant.

"Corporal Engelbrecht's selfless service to the military and later the Hamilton Fire Department … is an example of Hamiltonians giving of themselves to help others," he said. "The flag at Dieppe Veterans Memorial Park has been lowered to half staff."

"We thank Mr. Engelbrecht for his service."