Operation Jubilee was a large scale prelude to the D-Day invasion that would take place in less than two years. The British Commandos had been having great success with hit and run raids especially in Norway. But by 1942, political pressure was being put on Churchill and Roosevelt by Josef Stalin to open a second front.

Churchill knew that eventually, the Allies would have to go across the channel and stay. So they attempted a bold raid that would include over 6000 troops, 160 tanks and 60 squadrons of aircraft, along with destroyers with 4-inch guns for direct support fire from off-shore. The sleepy French resort beach at Dieppe was chosen because that would put the raiding force in easy covering distance for the Spitfires and other fighters. The German defenders were from the 302nd Infantry Division. They had ample artillery and reinforcements close by.

On the night of the 18th of August, the flotilla of 252 ships under the command of Vice-Admiral Lord Mountbatten sailed from four south coast ports. They sailed to just 8 miles off the coast of Dieppe undetected, arriving at 0300 hrs (3 a.m.) on the 19th. The 2nd Canadian Division was to seize Dieppe and vicinity and hold it until the demolition tasks were complete. Then re-embark and return to England. In supporting, roles were the men of the No. 3 and 4 Royal Marine Commandos, who with 50 officers and men of the US Ranger Battalion.


By 0330, 5000 men were in their assault landing craft and heading towards the beaches behind the small gunboats that would lead the way. All was going according to plan as smoothly as an exercise until 0347 when all hell broke loose. The gunboat leading No. 3 Commando into “Yellow Beach” at Berneval and Belleville-sur-mer ran into five German armed trawlers who fired star shells to illuminate the scene. The gunboat was ripped to shreds, most of the crew wounded on the deck and as a result of pure chance, the 20 landing craft of No. 3 Commando were dispersed. Only one landing craft with 3 officers and 17 Commandos hit the beach at Belleville-sur-mer. Armed with personal weapons and one two-inch mortar, they harassed the German “Goebbels” battery to the extent that their fire was ineffective for much of the crucial parts of the battle.

Six other landing craft of No. 3 Commando hit the beach at Berneval and came under devastating machine gun fire. Barely a handful survived to reach the beach and once there, were pinned down under murderous fire.

On the far right flank, No. 4 Commando hit the beach in a textbook raid. On time and right on target, they completely destroyed the “Hess” battery and by 0730 were off the beaches and on their way back to England. Sadly, this was to be one of the few success stories of the raid.