Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Raid de Dieppe - Nicolas Bucourt, Herve Fihue, Frederick Jeanne, Mathieu Masson

Title: Raid de Dieppe
Author: Nicolas Bucourt, Herve Fihue, Frederick Jeanne, Mathieu Masson
ISBN: 978-2-84048-316-8
Pages: 396
Illustrations: Hundreds
Publisher: Heimdal Publishing

                The raid on Dieppe resonates thoughout the annals of Canadian military history as a tragic example of Canadian valor and determination. There are many books that trace the conception, planning, execution and aftermath of this battle but few are as eye-opening and disturbing as this book from Heimdal publishing.

                The authors have collected a stunning array of photographs (colour and black and white) from the days preceding, during and following the battle from both the Allied and German sides. While some of these photographs are very well known, a vast majority are extremely rare and each tells a story. The commentary accompanying the photographs is equally impressive. They provide extensive background on the units (Canadian, Allied and German) involved and balance between individual and collective narratives. Additionally, in depth detail of the individual battles at Berneval, Pourville, Puys and Varengeville are provided through the reproduction of unit histories, eye witness accounts and after action reports.

                As indicated earlier, I have never seen such a collection of photographs of the engagement. They provide outstanding visual reinforcement of the stories surrounding the obstacles that the Canadians faced as they came ashore and the advantages that the Germans had with their control of the high ground overlooking the beaches; in addition are extensive descriptions of what is being shown. The book can also serve effectively as an excellent reference for the battle as the authors provide comprehensive casualty lists, medal recipient information and pre and post activities of the Germans and Allies.

                It is interesting to see the degree of support provided to the Allied wounded and prisoners by the Germans following the battle. There is evidently a significant degree of professionalism and mutual respect as well as a lack of animosity between the adversaries. It is fascinating what the Germans focused on for propaganda purposes and also the level of interest that this engagement spawned from senior German commanders (as evidenced by visits from Marshall von Rundstedt, Albert Speer and SS-Ogruf Sepp Dietrich). Additionally, the authors outline how the Canadian armoured vehicles were recovered, evaluated and then put into service by the Germans on the Eastern front.

                Aug 19th will continue to be remembered as a black day in the annals of Canadian military history. This book, with its outstanding production value and unprecedented depth and breadth of visual and narrative reconstruction of the battle, is an absolute necessity for any personal library. The book is only available with French text; however, don’t let that dissuade the potential non-French buyer. It is worth every penny.

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