A Conversation for Stories from World War Two
Shipwrecked Started conversation May 26, 2003
I was saddened by the entry "The Canadians". Dieppe (I've never heard it called Operation Jubilee in Canada) is a very somber note in Canadian history. We're fiercely proud of our contributions to both world wars but Dieppe rankles. Many Canadians feel we were thrown to the wolves on a suicide mission, to appease the Russians' demands for a western front. But that was all so long ago and all that remains now is the fact that so many boys didn't come home. It helps to know that someone "over there" missed them too. Bless the British, they know the meaning of suffering.
Al Johnston Posted Jan 6, 2004
I suppose one positive factor was the "Never again" feeling that led to lessons being drawn for operation Overlord.
Such as the need for meticulous preparation, proper landing craft and specialised armoured vehicles and weapons to deal with particular threats and situations.
Granted, not all of these were entirely successful: the panjandrum in particular remained an overgrown firework rather than a weapon; but despite US Army derision, the "funnies" contributed to reducing British and Canadian casualties and the speedy capture of the landing beaches. Their descendants were used by all armies involved in the 1991 liberation of Kuwait, negating the static defences.
Shipwrecked Posted Jan 7, 2004
True, valuable lessons were learned at the Dieppe debacle. Operation Overlord perhaps might not have succeeded without those lessons. What rankles (as opposed to the deeper sorrow that cares naught of motives) is High Command's decision to use Canucks as cannon fodder in what was tacitly recognised as a suicide mission. I believe Canadians were chosen to die in a mission that may not have been undertaken if only British or American troops were available.
Maybe I'm just a product of the times. These days, war is waged with so much technological precision that casualties almost seem to make one think that somebody should be sacked for their mistake. I suspect the WWII generation had a more philosophical outlook.
Al Johnston Posted Jan 8, 2004
There may be something to that: I suspect that Australians and New Zealanders would have similar feelings about Gallipoli. While often covered up with platitudes about the "superior fighting qualities" of the "colonial soldier" the wish to protect home troops was probably just a reflection of the Imperial attitudes of the time.
I suppose that there is an element of people being more sanguine about casualties in the past: it is only very recently that bloodletting became so disproportionately one-sided; however, a lot of European attitudes in WW2 were formed by the immense toll of WW1: reflected in the long "Phoney War" and the rapid fall of France.
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