Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Remembrance Day 2015

Lloyd Campbell, V17138

Lloyd Campbell of London, Ontario, Canada was a member of the Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve and of Combined Operations in WW2 and was grievously wounded during the Dieppe Raid (also known as Operation Jubilee) and subsequently died of his injuries. It is very unlikely the story associated with Mr. Campbell's death has ever seen the light of day in modern times for a variety of reasons, not to be fully discussed here. But let it be said, though he was but one volunteer member of, in general, two oft lightly-regarded wartime organizations, with names that do not often leap to mind during the retelling of World War II history, Lloyd Campbell's actions on August 19, 1942 should not be forgotten.

"Mr. Campbell's name appears on the list entitled 
'Combined Operations Personnel' Dieppe

"Notes from an out-of-print (currently) book re Combined Ops organization"

Concerning the Dieppe Raid, the following excerpt is found in Combined Operations, a book written and compiled by another Londoner, Clayton Marks. A significant reference to Lloyd Campbell is made within it. The book is very hard to find (try Canada's War Museum), another good reason Mr. Campbell's story is not well known.

DIEPPE August, 19, 1942 

It was deemed a failure right from the original plan of operation. The original code word for this landing was "Rutter". It was accepted by Combined Operations and the Home Forces Staffs on April 25, 1942 and the landing was to commence by the 8th of July, 1942. On July 7th the German Air Force flew over Yarmouth Roads and sank landing ships.

This, and the bad weather, convinced Mountbatten to cancel the complete operation.

Mountbatten and Churchill had a plan to remount "Rutter" on August 19, 1942 under the code word "Jubilee" with all the same participating forces. The Chiefs-of-Staff were on the wane and Dieppe was desperately needed to restore Combined Operations quickly growing ambitions. Bomber Command could not and would not supply heavy, accurate air bombardment, but could guarantee only limited indiscriminate bombing. The Naval Sea Lord could not supply sea power in the form of battleships due to the recent loss of the battleships "Prince of Wales" and the "Revenge" at Singapore in December of 1941. This left only destroyer sea power of 4 inch guns that could not damage the wall of defense along the French coast. At 2130 on the night of August 18th the landing ships slipped their moorings and headed out to sea on a cloudless and warm evening. The fleet consisted of 237 ships of all sizes from large Infantry landing ships to the 74 LCP's unarmed and unarmoured carrying 6,100 of all ranks.

Many stories and acts of heroism have been told and will be retold over and over again. Officers and men of the British Army, Commandos, Royal Marines, American Rangers, Canadian Essex Scottish, Canadian Engineers, Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders, Hamilton Light Infantry, Fusiliers Mont Royal and the Royal Regiment of Canada, Black Watch, were all involved in this raid.

The perilous honour of the raid fell mainly to the Canadian Army and the Royal Navy, but members of the Naval team from Canada had a share. Training was not sufficiently advanced for the Canadians to operate as separate Flotillas when the Dieppe expedition sailed from Portsmouth, Shoreham and Newhaven on the night of August 18th, but among the British Landing Craft fifteen Canadian Officers and fifty-five Ratings were distributed.

 Above three photos from Six Years of War, Ch. XI, Raid on Dieppe

Sub-Lieutenant C.D. Wallace was the first Canadian casualty. He was killed in the dark hours of the morning, when the Flotillas on the extreme left flank of the assault made the fatal encounter with a German convoy. Lt. J. E. Koyl, a Canadian who was to figure in many happier landings, was boat Officer of a Flotilla which included thirty-three Canadians. It left its parent ship, "Duke of Wellington", at 0334. As the craft neared the beach shortly after five, they came under heavy fire from shore. They managed to land their three platoons of the Canadian Black Watch near Puys; but as they were withdrawing the British Flotilla Officer was seriously wounded and Lt. Koyl took charge. Continuing seaward, he transferred the wounded Officer to a British destroyer, and about 1200 when the evacuation of the beach was ordered, led his craft in again through heavy fire from shore and attack from the air. Before he could beach, however, he was ordered to turn back. German batteries were laying down a curtain of steel that made evacuation an impossibility.

Meanwhile, Sub-Lieutenants A. A. Wedd and J. E. Boak, each in command of one of the landing craft (Personnel) which had sailed directly from England, came into shore with their Flotilla a little east of Dieppe harbour. Passing through smoke and into the fire from the German weapons of all calibres, they landed their troops and withdrew. They were sent in an hour or so later to Dieppe harbour itself, but were recalled almost immediately and re-routed to one of the beaches near Puys. As they reached the inner fringe of the smoke shrouding the beach, they came upon a group of Canadian soldiers crouching on a capsized landing craft just off shore, and pinned down by fire. Although the soldiers waved and shouted at them to steer away, the craft ran close alongside, heaved ropes across and managed to rescue three of the men. Then, as the fire from shore blazed up to new intensity, the Flotilla was ordered to turn back from the beach. It was not to go in again. Like all of the other Flotillas, it was to have the memory, most poignant for the Canadians, of having left behind many of the soldiers it had brought ashore.

Unhappy as the immediate results of Dieppe were, the performance of the Canadians in the landing craft had been worthy of their brothers in the Army; and some of them remained with the soldiers as prisoners.

Lt. R. F. McRae stated:

     "On August 19, 1942, at dawn, in our R-Boat, with Lloyd Campbell,
     Richard Cavanagh, Robert Brown and a unit the Fusiliers Mont Royal,
     we were off the French coast which was invisible behind a heavy
     smoke screen and from which there came the awful noises of war.
     About 0730 the Flotilla got orders to go in and land the troops. We
     quickly formed up in line abreast, went through the smoke screen
     and saw that we were headed toward a beach under high cliffs with
     the heads of the enemy looking down over the top and pouring machine-
     gun fire into our boats. Campbell, who was at the wheel, took a line
     of bullets across his thighs (and later, as a P.O.W. lost his legs in
     successive amputations and died before Christmas from gangrene).
     Cavanagh, who was standing next to him, got it in the chest and died
     an hour later when his lungs had filled up. Brown, though hit in the
     stomach, took over the wheel from Campbell. I was the lucky one and
     received only a piece of shrapnel in the ankle.

     In the meantime, the engine had been blown up and was on fire and
     the plywood hull of the boat was well perforated, but we had enough
     weigh on to make it to the beach. The troops scrambled ashore except
     for their Captain who had been standing up forward with us and was
     badly wounded, and I believe, dying. Some of the troops never made
     it across the beach which was strewn with their bodies, and those who
     did were easy targets for grenades lobbed down from above. There was
     no life in the boats on either side of us, and it was, I think, because they
     could see that I was busy with the wounded and that we were unarmed
     so that the Germans on the top of the cliffs gave up trying to finish us off. 

     Some hours later, it was evident that a surrender had taken place when
     I saw a few German soldiers walking along the beach with a medical
     orderly. I jumped out of the boat to fetch the orderly for the wounded
     but our discussion was rudely interrupted by a Corporal with a machine-
     gun directing me, in no uncertain terms to a crevice in the cliff face,
     down which a rope had been lowered. A few surviving troops and myself
     were ordered to hoist ourselves up the rope, hand over hand. I did not
     see my crew again.

     I spent the first year as a P.O.W. in handcuffs in a British Army Officers
     camp and then was shifted to a British Naval Officers camp for the
     remainder of the war. The last two weeks were spent with a long
     straggling column of P.O.W.'s being marched up to the Baltic and
     regularly being strafed by our own fighter aircraft.

     The loss of Campbell and Cavanagh and later Brown, as you can see,
     was a complete waste and unnecessary." 

A German photograph from A Watery Maze

Though there are still some who dispute the value of what was learned at Dieppe, they are not to be found among informed persons or among any who bore high responsibility in the later stages of the war, except for General Montgomery. There are others besides him who have criticized details of the raid, or the retention of Dieppe as the target after the original postponement. Mistakes were certainly made, and the Germans themselves were among their severest critics. They found fault with the rigidity of the plan, the frontal attack, the absence of parachutists, the failure to use bombers, the failure to land tanks at Quiberville. Fortunately they were confirmed in their belief that in our next landing we would go for a large port in the initial stages? and this erroneous conviction colored all their planning. They convinced themselves also that it was on the beaches that we would be most easily defeated, and they made their dispositions accordingly.

In fact we had learned that a frontal attack on a defended port was impracticable, and we never tried it again. A British General is on record as saying, not long afterwards, "Well, if we can't capture a port, we will have to take one with us". The Prime Minister had already and separately had the same idea.

In order that this grim experience should not be for nothing, a full and detailed report, with the lessons learned clearly deduced and codified, was compiled in C.O.H.Q., printed, and given a wide circulation. No time was wasted in chewing the cud; it saw the light and was being closely studied in a very short space of time.

Pages 26 - 29

* * * * * * * 

The book Combined Operations went on to inspire the compilation of two more volumes of stories by Canadians, veterans of both RCNVR and Combined Operations. The books are entitled St. Nazaire to Singapore: The Canadian Amphibious War 1941 - 1945, Volumes 1 and 2 and are seldom found in North American used book stores. However, in Volume 1 I find a second presentation of events at Dieppe by Lt. R. F. McRae, and Lloyd Campbell is mentioned more fully:

     And now they (German gunners) began to pour machine-gun fire down
     into the boats. In our craft, Campbell, who was at the wheel, received
     a line of bullets across his thighs (later as a POW he his legs to amput-
     ations and died before Christmas from gangrene)... As it was my place
     to stand behind the man at the wheel, Campbell had stopped the machine
     -gun bullets I might otherwise have received....

Page 62

The final sentence above tells an important fact. But for Campbell acting as a human shield, history would likely never have heard of Lt. McRae's story of Dieppe, his time as a POW, and much much more related to his long life. 

And on Page 66 of the same volume of stories, a note about Dieppe appears by Lt. R. F. (Bob) McRae, similar in length and in almost every other way to the first entry above under his name, except for the addition of the following few lines near the end:

     I was reluctant to write this note about Dieppe but I knew that I owed it
     to Lloyd Campbell, Richard Cavanagh and Bob Brown. I have visited Cavan-
     agh's grave a couple of times in the War Cemetery in Dieppe. I do not know
     where Campbell is buried. It will be somewhere in Germany. Brown, I saw
     last January when he came with old shipmates to have lunch here...

Page 66

Above three photos are from St. Nazaire to Singapore, Vol. 1

As one can see above, the date of Lloyd Campbell's death is not listed in a short list compiled by Doug Harrison, a member of RCNVR and Combined Ops (WW2) who, according to his memoirs, missed Dieppe by one day while on leave. And though he did miss it, he wrote an article about it later in life (he was opposed to it, saw no good in it) and also penned two words under Lt. Bob McRae's note in the volume to which I have referred, i.e., "survival guilt."

Though there may remain questions about exactly when and where Canadian Lloyd Campbell died, there is no doubt that his role during WW2 was significant, and should not be forgotten.

Lest we forget, think of Lloyd Campbell on Remembrance Day. Perhaps, one day, someone will discover where this brave Canadian rests.

For more about Dieppe, link to Articles re Combined Operations - Why Dieppe?

Unattributed photos by GH

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