Friday, January 6, 2017

Article: News Clips Linked to the 'Dieppe Report'.

Many Officers Reported Missing at Dieppe Are Alive.

25-year old clipping from The Hamilton Spectator, Sept. 18, 1942 issue.

War stories undoubtedly appeared on a regular basis in The Hamilton Spectator, and all other Canadian newspapers, from 1914 - 1918. Such was the case as well 25 years later, during World War II. Three recent entries on this website shared the official report related to the Dieppe Raid that appeared on Sept. 18 and 19, 1942 in The Spectator and Toronto Globe and Mail respectively. (Link to the report appears at page bottom).

Along with the official statement there also appeared related pieces of news, e.g., some about men who had been involved in the Dieppe operation. Several of those clippings appear below:

From The Hamilton Spectator, 1942

The newspaper reports the following concerning the Essex Scottish leader:

Windsor, Ont., Sept. 18. - (CP) - Lieut.-Col. F.K. Jasperson, of Windsor, officer commanding the Essex Scottish Regiment at Dieppe, previously reported missing, believed killed, is alive and a prisoner of war in Germany, relatives said today following word received from the International Red Cross.

Twelve Windsor officers of the regiment previously reported missing now are believed prisoners of war, word received by relatives from the International Red Cross said. Others were: Capt. W.L. McGregor, Lieut. A.D. Mothersill, Lieut. P.D. Ambery, Lieut. Jack Prince, Capt. Bryan S. Wilson, Lieut. J.M. Brick, Lieut. W.H. Scott, Major J.M. Green, Major E.H. Williams, Major Edward Henry and Capt. R. Turnbull.

Five More Safe

Calgary, Sept. 18 - (CP) - Five officers of the Calgary Tank Regiment, reported missing after Canadian forces led an attack on Dieppe last month, are prisoners of war in Germany, their relatives in Calgary were informed by cable last night. They are: Major Charles H. Page, Capt. George Valentine, Capt. Allan H. Turney, Lieut. T.L. Taylor and Capt. C.R. Eldred.

The cables were all similar, stating the information that the men were prisoners had been received through the International Red Cross society. They said further information would follow later.

Three Torontonians

Toronto, Sept. 18 - (CP) - Three Toronto officers of the Royal Regiment of Canada, previously reported missing, or missing believed killed at Dieppe, were reported last night prisoners of war in Germany.

Major Brian McCool, reported missing, believed killed, was officially said by the International Red Cross a prisoner of war.

Lieut. John Graham Housser is also said in the hands of the Germans. He was reported missing.

Lieut. John Darsavel is a prisoner of war, after being reported missing in the Dieppe action.

From The Hamilton Spectator, 1942

The Spectator recorded the following:

Ottawa, Sept. 18. -(CP)- The defence department to-day singled out in its 5,000 word statement statement on Dieppe the bravery of two Canadian soldiers - Lieut.Col. C.C.I. Merritt, officer commanding the South Saskatchewan Regiment, and Lance-Sgt. G.E. Hickson, of the Seventh Field Company, Royal Canadian Engineers.

Colonel Merritt, a Vancouver man whose wife is listed by the army as living at Belleville, Ont., is missing. Sergeant Hickson got back to England safely.

"Where all were brave, it is difficult and perhaps invidious to quote individual cases of gallantry," said the department, "but two such instances are mentioned here merely as examples of the manner in which Canadian officers and men maintained the traditions of the Canadian army and the honour of their country."

Shows Way to Men

When Colonel Merritt's battalion was held up by fire at a bridge on which many men had fallen, he walked back and forth across the structure, waving his helmet and calling, "See, there is no danger here." Then he led his men across and cleared enemy positions on the other side.

He led detachments against strong road blocks, personally disposing of a sniper and led parties against machine-gun posts. When last seen he was gathering weapons and organizing a defensive position to cover the withdrawal of the last parties of his unit.

On Demolition Job

Sergeant Hickson was assigned to a demolition task in the town and, unable to go to it directly, attached himself to an infantry platoon. When the platoon's officer and senior non-commissioned officer were put out of action, he took command and led them to the casino, which he entered by blasting a hole through a wall.

With another charge he blew in the steel door of a concrete gun emplacement inside the casino and killed the gun crew. He destroyed a six-inch naval gun and two machine-guns, then reorganized the rest of the platoon and led them against heavy opposition into the town. He was one of the last men evacuated from the beach.

Photo Caption: Dead Canadians still litter the beach in this photograph, looking across Red Beach to the harbour entrance. In the foreground, a largely-undamaged Landing Craft Assault; behind it a burning Landing Craft Tank. Photo Credit - ECP Armees, as found in Dieppe, Dieppe by B. Greenhous

From The (Toronto) Globe and Mail, 1942

The Globe and Mail reports the following:

Belleville, Sept. 18 (CP). Lieutenant-Colonel Cecil C.I. Merritt, singled out by Defence Minister Ralston for his exploits in the Battle of Dieppe*, is a great grandson of Sir Charles Tupper, one of the fathers of Confederation. Previously reported missing, it was only today his wife was informed that he is now a prisoner in Germany. He was officer commanding the South Saskatchewan Regiment.

A graduate of the Royal Military College, Kingston, Colonel Merritt is a partner in the law firm of Walsh, Bull, Tupper & Company of Vancouver. Mrs. Merritt, eldest daughter of Jamieson Bone, former mayor of Belleville, is now living here with her two children.

(*Editor's Note - the first time I have seen the raid described as the Battle; italics mine).

Photo Caption: Standing among a number of bodies, a German officer wearing the ribbon of the Iron Cross speaks to two men who may be Canadian prisoners while a German soldier, hands on hips, surveys the damage. Photo Credit - ECP Armees, as found in Dieppe, Dieppe by B. Greenhous

From The (Toronto) Globe and Mail, 1942

About 'two airmen at Dieppe' The Globe reports the following:

London, Sept. 18 (CP). Canada's ever-growing honor's list was increased today with announcement of awards to four Canadian airmen, two of them for heroism during the Dieppe raid.

The Distinguished Flying Cross went to Flight-Lieutenant James Whitham of Edmonton; Pilot Officer George Allen Casey, Mitchell, Ont., and Pilot Officer George Pepper, native of Belleville, now living in England. Sergeant Clarence Scott of Tisdale, Sask., was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal.

Scott's award resulted from a thrilling episode over Dieppe. He was wireless operator-air gunner, in an aircraft detailed to attack a selected target prior to the troop landings. The bombing was accomplished, but on the return flight his aircraft was attacked by a Focke-Wulf 190 and set afire.

As the plane plunged into the sea near the French coast, Scott gave the enemy a final burst from his guns. He was thrown clear when the plane struck the water and soon became aware his two flying companions were in the wreckage.

The gunner inflated his "Mae West" jacket and swam to the spot where his crewmates had come up unconscious. Scott held the pilot's head above water while he inflated his jacket, then he inflated the crashed plane's dinghy and pushed the pilot into it. Next he swam to the observer's side, blew up his jacket and got him into the dinghy. He was spotted by a British aircraft which sent a rescue launch. Scott suffered a sprained ankle and a deep cut over the eye.

Casey was wireless operator-air gunner in the leading aircraft of a formation of bombers detailed to carry out a smoke-bomb attack in support of the Dieppe operations. He met considerable fire and his plane was hit repeatedly. One engine was put out of action and casey was wounded in both thighs while his R.A.F. co-gunner was injured critically.

The bombs were released from low level and Casey, disregarding his injuries, engaged enemy defenses whenever they came within reach of his guns.

Whitham, member of a famed Canadian fighter squadron, received his decoration for bravery and initiative in a large number of sorties over enemy territory, while the award to Pepper was for consistent and skilful flying in the face of danger.

From The Hamilton Spectator, 1942

The Hamilton Spectator goes on to report the following:

Ottawa, Sept. 18. - (CP) - A spokesman for national defence headquarters said last night he understood that some relatives of men who participated in the large-scale raid on Dieppe August 19 had received notification that soldiers previously listed as missing were prisoners. 

Such notification would be based on information received through the International Red Cross.

Defence Minister Ralston said Tuesday that 2,547 officers and men were missing as a result of the Dieppe attack. He said total casualties were 3,350.

It has been assumed, however, that at least some of those posted as missing have been captured. In the case of those taken prisoner, word as to their fate would take some time to reach national headquarters.

One Ottawa couple received word last night that their son, Lieut. T. McDonald Saunders, is a prisoner. He was listed as missing in a defence headquarters casualty list of Dieppe missing issued Tuesday.

An outstanding oarsman, Lieutenant Saunders was with the Royal Canadian Artillery. He is a son of Mr. and Mrs. Allan J. Saunders.

Word that another well-known officer is a prisoner was received by relatives here. He is Lieut. Frank Lafortune, who also had been listed as missing.

  From The Hamilton Spectator, 1942

The report mentioned the following:

Ottawa, Sept. 18 - (CP) - Spotted through to-day's defence department statement on the Dieppe battle are brief bits of unqualified praise for the Canadian soldiers, sailors and airmen who took part.

These are the ones that stand out, aside from those referring to individual acts of gallantry:

"Throughout this operation the conduct of all ranks of the Canadian military forces engaged, and their determination to capture their objectives at any cost, were beyond all praise."

"Although they came under the heaviest forms of artillery, mortar and machine-gun fire, and confronted situations comparable to the most dangerous tasks assigned to troops in the last war, there was not the slightest hesitation, and all ranks evinced the keenest desire to come to grips with the enemy."


"In not one of these (documents on the operation) is there the slightest suggestion that so much as one man of the Canadian army failed in his duty."


"The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry - attacking with great dash - had succeeded in capturing the Casino, which was.... most heavily fortified."


The article goes on to mention other descriptions of gallantry and sacrifice found in the lengthy report. The full report can be read in three parts in an earlier post on this website. A link to the official Canadian statement is provided below:

Please link to Article: The Official Statement on the Dieppe Operation.

Unattributed Photos GH

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