On the eve of the anniversary of the raid on Dieppe, as members of the Paris Port Dover Pipe Band, we arrived in the historic coastal town. The following morning, we were up early to perform at six different services.
Looking back, the day is a blur of activity but three things remain clear. Hearing the Canadian and French anthems played at every memorial service, meeting a veteran of the Essex Scottish Regiment who landed on the beaches of Dieppe, and the rock.
You see, Dieppe is different. Instead of sandy shores the beaches are rock. When allied forces landed, they were shocked by this discovery and suffered greatly as the caterpillar tracks of their equipment jammed. They were quickly rendered immobile on the exposed beaches.
A small piece of land, in the shadows of Château de Dieppe is named Square du Canada (Canada Square) in honour of the Canadians who died on the nearby beaches. When we performed here, two large flower beds were designed as the Canadian Flag.
On the beach, I spoke with a veteran of the Essex Scottish Regiment. As he showed me his medals, he told me his story. After landing at Dieppe on the morning of August 19, 1942, he was injured and laid on the beach until the fighting subsided. He was then taken Prisoner of War along with 1,945 other Canadians and held in a German POW camp where he remained until the end of the war.
Thanks to The Memory Project, you too can hear this veteran’s story firsthand. His name was Sgt. Maj. Maurice Snook. The photo that accompanies his interview shows him in regimental attire at the age of just 17.
As a symbol of remembrance, a monument honouring the Essex Scottish Regiment was unveiled on the Dieppe shoreline the day we visited.
The black maple leaf at the top of the memorial is actually a cutout. On the ground behind it, set in stone, is a silver maple leaf and if you look hard enough, a pin featuring a red poppy, celebrating 2005 as the year of the veteran. Only at preciously 1 pm on August 19 is the sun in the correct position to shine through the cutout and illuminate the maple leaf behind it.
Lest we forget.
P.S In case you missed it, be sure to read our post, Remembering Juno Beach.