Initially known as Operation RUTTER, the raid was scheduled for July 1942 but cancelled due to poor weather. The raid was revived the next month as Operation JUBILEE. Nearly 5,000 Canadian troops participated, drawn primarily from the 2nd Division’s 4th and 6th Brigades as well as the 14th Canadian Army Tank Regiment (the Calgary Regiment) operating the new Churchill tanks. These men were to land at three locations: the main site at Dieppe itself (White Beach and Red Beach), on the eastern flank at the tiny seaside village of Puys (Blue Beach), and on the western flank at Pourville (Green Beach). The tanks would land at Dieppe. Further along the coast a total of about 1,000 British Commandos would attack at Varengeville to the west and Berneval to the east to destroy coastal artillery emplacements. Success of the hastily prepared raid mainly depended on catching the Germans off-guard. The pre-dawn landings at all five locations needed to be perfectly timed and co-ordinated to achieve surprise and prevent alerting the enemy.
Unfortunately, this did not happen and the landings at Dieppe and Puys were disasters, with troops unable to get off the pebbly beaches due to German artillery, mortar, machine-gun, and rifle fire emanating from the dominating heights on either side of the landing areas and from fortified buildings beyond the seawall. Without Allied use of heavy bombers or the availability of heavy-calibre naval artillery, German defences were largely undamaged. The beaches became death-traps and within hours hundreds of Canadians had been killed or wounded for no gain. Despite great heroism on the part of many men, few Canadians managed to penetrate into the town of Dieppe itself and, once there, could do very little. Limited success at Pourville was marred by the arrival of German reinforcements who inflicted heavy losses on the Canadians when the time came for them to re-embark. The agony continued until about 2 pm when the last landing craft returned to the ships offshore with the survivors of the carnage. The Canadians suffered more than 60 percent casualties, including 907 killed or died of wounds and 1,946 taken prisoner, many of whom were wounded.
Operation JUBILEE was a failure. The raid’s merits have been debated over the years, but most scholarship on the matter agrees that, at basis, the raid was poorly conceived. Whatever the case, the massive losses incurred at Dieppe shocked the nation and bereaved Canadian households throughout the land.