________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 19. . . .January 17, 2014


Dieppe: Canada’s Darkest Day of World War II.

Hugh Brewster.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2009/2013.
48 pp., trade pbk., $10.99.
ISBN 978-0-545-99421-7

Subject Headings:
Dieppe Raid, 1942-Juvenile literature.
Canada-Armed forces-History-World War, 1939-1945-Juvenile literature.
World War, 1939-1945-Canada-Juvenile literature.

Grades 6 and up / Ages 11 and up.

Review by Thomas F. Chambers.

**** /4



Ten minutes later, at 5.45 a.m., a third wave of soldiers was sent in. Five landing craft with men from the Black Watch Regiment landed at the western end of the beach below steep cliffs. German gunfire from the top of the cliffs prevented them from providing any aid to their comrades pinned down on the beachfront. There, the hail of bullets and mortar bombs continued and, as the tide came in, wounded men were drowning. Amid all the smoke and noise, Jack Poolton heard a voice yell, “Sir, they`re demanding that we surrender.”

At 8.30 a.m. an undershirt was hoisted on a bayonet. For the men of the Royal Regiment still alive, the only choice left was death or captivity.


As the title of this book indicates the raid on Dieppe was one of, if not the, saddest days in Canada’s military history. Dieppe is in Normandy on the English Channel coast of France. The raid took place on August 19, 1942, and was a complete failure. That it took place at all was because the Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin, had put considerable pressure on the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, to launch an attack against German-occupied France. He believed that this would relieve the Soviet army which was having a tough time against the German army on the eastern front.

     Churchill felt that the British were not ready to invade France in 1942, but he agreed to do so to satisfy the Soviet leader. Britain had initially intended to launch a number of raids along the French coast, but Dieppe was the only raid which took place. Most of the troops involved were from the 2nd Canadian Division assisted by British commandos and a few U.S. soldiers. Dieppe: Canada’s Darkest Day of World War II tells this story. The book includes some valuable teaching aids, including an index, short bibliography, a glossary and a half a page on interesting Dieppe veterans. It has a great many, mainly black and white, factual photographs spread throughout the book. There is also a map of Europe showing the extent of German occupation, a smaller map of the Dieppe coastal area where the attack took place and a very small map dealing with the attack on Pourville, a small village west of Dieppe.

     Dieppe is a well-written factual, and accurate, account of the raid. It is a story of a foolhardy attack carried out by brave men against overwhelming odds. It is suitable for the intended readership and could be used either as classroom support or for recreational reading. The appearance of the book and the way the facts are presented make Dieppe a very exciting history. Young readers should be intrigued by the story and full of questions about why nations go to war.

     The author, Hugh Brewster, has written a number of history books for young readers including At Vimy Ridge and On Juno Beach. As a result of the quality of his work, he has received a number of awards, including the Norma Fleck Award for Nonfiction.

Highly Recommended.

Thomas F. Chambers, a retired college teacher and author, lives in North Bay, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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