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May 26, 2004

A little more perspective... since I'm on the subject today.

From an article on National Review Online today, regarding A&E's upcoming broadcast of Ike:Countdown to D-Day.

The excerpt is about the director of Ike, Lionel Chetwynd:

Now in his early 60s, Chetwynd is a longtime naturalized American citizen who was born in England and raised in Montreal. He'd remembered from Canadian regimental history that of the 4,400-odd Canadians sent to Dieppe, about 3,600 were killed. Although they knew it was basically a suicide mission, not one man failed to report for duty. Chetwynd asked one of the old soldiers in his regiment, Sgt. Gordon Betts, why.

"My generation had to figure out what we were ready to die for," Chetwynd recalled Betts telling him. "You kids don't even know what to live for."

The historian in me must put in a corrective:

While there can be no doubt that valuable lessons were learned, a frightful price was paid in those morning hours of August 19, 1942. Of the 4,963 Canadians who embarked for the operation only 2,210 returned to England, and many of these were wounded. There were 3,367 casualties, including 1,946 prisoners of war; 907 Canadians lost their lives.

There are other, similar casualty figures bandied about. Suffice it to say that while 3,600 Canadians may not have died, 3,600 is a close figure for killed, wounded, and captured. Out of a force of roughly 6,000, that's a lot of people.

Go read the whole thing... the further context is instructive.

Interested in Dieppe? Click the picture.

Hat tip to JMH.