After the disaster at Dieppe, the Allies prepare for D-Day

© Nomandy Tourist Board
The Dieppe Raid, on August 19th 1942, brought heavy losses for the troops involved, but at the same time yielded a large amount of information for the Allies’ intelligence services. Jubilee – the codename given to the Dieppe Raid – was the first major reconnaissance expedition carried out by Allied troops, particularly Canadian, and was destined to test the German defences along the French coast. In human terms, it was a calamity. Furthermore, the failure of the operation was exploited by the Nazi propaganda machine to demonstrate the invincibility of the Atlantic Wall.

Les préparatifs

The idea of a landing on the French coast was an old one. “We will return” were the words of Winston Churchill in June 1940, when his troops escaped from Dunkirk and returned to English soil. Germany being the enemy to defeat as a priority, industrial production was diverted towards the war effort: barges, artillery, planes and so on. These were manufactured on the other side of the Atlantic, and then stocked in different camps across southern England. Photographs of the Normandy coast were taken almost daily by planes and submarines. Much vital information (about German defences and/or the movement of troops) was also transmitted by resistance fighters risking their lives.

 

“We will return”

While the American and British were relentlessly manufacturing assault craft and Mulberry harbour parts, from the spring of 1944, Allied planes started a systematic bombardment of road and rail infrastructure in northwest France.

The fateful day was fixed for the beginning of June – the 5th, or failing that the 6th or 7th – these days being ones that met crucial conditions, consisting of a dawn assault in the middle of a rising tide, following a night with a full moon for parachutists. The codename for this great landing operation was also chosen: Operation Overlord.

 

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