Monument to honour Battle of Dieppe casualties

A new memorial in Windsor, Ont., will commemorate Canadian casualties of a major battle during the Second World War.
A memorial commemorates soldiers from southwestern Ontario who died at the Battle of Dieppe on Aug. 19, 1942, in France. ((Mike Beale))
A new memorial in Windsor, Ont., will commemorate Canadian casualties of a major battle during the Second World War.

More than 6,000 soldiers fought in the Battle of Dieppe, a major offensive on a port in France on Aug. 19, 1942, that involved 4,963 Canadians. Of those, 907 died and thousands more were injured or taken prisoner.

In 2006, members of the Windsor community joined together to raise money for a monument dedicated to reservists from the Windsor-based Essex and Kent Scottish Regiment, who, along with regiments from Calgary, Hamilton, Montreal and Saskatchewan, among others, took part in that battle.

That monument was erected in Dieppe's Red Beach, where the regiment landed.

On Monday, City of Windsor officials approved the construction of a duplicate monument, to be built much closer to home in Dieppe Park, a central city park located next to the Detroit River.

Uniquely Canadian

The $60,000, 2.4-metre-high monument is made of black granite and features a cutout of a large maple leaf. It is aligned so that if the sun shines at 1 p.m. on Aug. 19 — the exact hour that the regiment stormed the beach — it will cast a perfect shadow of that maple leaf on the ground below.

The monument's designer, Rory O'Connor, a local art student, came up with the idea during a sun-soaked road trip a few years ago.

This sketch shows how the Dieppe monument casts a shadow of a maple leaf when the sun shines through it at 1 p.m. on Aug. 19, the hour of the start of the Battle of Dieppe. ((CBC))
"I saw some sunshine on the dashboard ... and I thought, 'Wouldn't it be great to use the sundial idea to tell about the time and retreat of these soldiers,'" O'Connor told CBC News.

The monument will give residents who can't afford to travel to France "the opportunity to experience this beautiful, solemn tribute to our fallen," said Dave Woodall, representing the regiment at a council meeting Monday night.

City officials also hope the monument will "reignite the spirit of remembrance and again raise the visibility of the regiment in southwestern Ontario," according to a report submitted to councillors by Mary Baruth, the city's manager of cultural affairs.