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  • Writer's pictureICS Canada

#75 - ICS Canada News and Views Summer 2022

Updated: Mar 20, 2023

Dear Fellow Canadian Churchillians:

Welcome

To new Friends of Winston Churchill - Daniel Marmer, Jonathan Marmer, Stephen Lecce and Susan Menard.

Annual Dinner – May 10, 2022 – Guest Speaker, Ted Barris

After an interval of three years, we were delighted to once again host this event; and on the 82nd anniversary of the day when Winston Churchill became the Prime Minister of Great Britain.


Ted Barris following his presentation. World-renowned Town Crier John Webster outside the Albany Club.

The Albany Club outdid itself with a delicious repast; but the star of the event was the address by Ted Barris. Ted provided an audiovisual presentation including recounting how Yousef Karsh took the most famous photograph of Churchill in the Speaker’s Chambers in the House of Commons.

Next Event

It was a “no brainer” to decide on the ideal speaker to re-launch our Evenings with Sir Winston. Ted Barris will speak on his latest book to be published in September: “The Battle of the Atlantic.”

The date is Thursday October 20th 2022 and the venue the Albany Club of Toronto. Full details will be provided by flyer and on our web site, in due course.

Facebook... is up and running


We all have a deep respect for Churchill, which is why we are part of the Society.

A few months ago, the Directors of ICS Canada decided to create a Facebook Group for the Members. Discussions were held and a FB sub-committee was created.

Although the mandate is multifaceted and loosely crafted, a primary objective of the committee is to use Facebook as an educational vehicle.

Our intent is to encourage members to interact with each other through postings and your comments. These postings would be an aggregate of magazine and newspaper articles, lectures, videos, book reviews, Society events etc., on subjects relating directly or indirectly to Churchill.

An example of a recent posting is a video uploaded by one of our members. It is a talk he gave to a group of McGill alumni, "Why we need an American Churchill". Although his talk was a year ago, it is relevant today.

Facebook is an educational tool not only for us, the members, but for the next generation, your children and grandchildren, to learn about this incredible man who acted on his voice.

In 1948, before the British parliament, Churchill said, "Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” Although he paraphrased the philosopher George Santayana, those words are worth repeating today.

For those of you who haven't as yet joined, please do so here.

International Churchill Conference


The venue: the National World War I Memorial and Museum in Kansas City This year the Conference is being held in Kansas City, from October 6 – 8, 2022.

For full details, click here.

THE DIEPPE RAID OF AUGUST 19 1942

With the 80th anniversary almost upon us, it is appropriate to assess the facts and opinions especially relative to Churchill’s role.

In early 1942 there was pressure on Churchill by both the Americans and the Russians to launch a major invasion of northern France. However, Churchill knew that this was not possible at the time, and he countered this pressure by instructing his “Combined Operations Command”, headed by Lord Louis Mountbatten, to launch raids “as opportunities arise.” In February 1942, an opportunity did arise and resulted in the destruction of the dry dock at Saint-Nazaire in northwest France. This whettedMountbatten’s appetite and his group proposed a more daring operation code named “Operation Rutter” – a raid on Dieppe.

On June 30 1942, Churchill met with Mountbatten and his team. Churchill had concerns and asked Mountbatten whether he could guarantee success. Obviously, this could not be given, but the Combined Operations chief staff officer, Vice-Admiral John Hughes-Hallett, who had trained in disguise with the Canadian troops (designated for the raid), assured Churchill that they would “fight like hell.”

The original date for the raid was not feasible due to bad weather, and it was cancelled. However, it was re-launched, as Operation Jubilee, as the troops were already trained and could be taken straight to the ships, which would reduce the risk of the Germans detecting a large force in advance. The planners also thought that the Germans, who would undoubtedly have known of the original plan by that time, would not expect that the Allies would plan an attack on the same target.

In that atmosphere, assessments by noted historian, Andrew Roberts, and others, follow.

From the Bookshelf

CHURCHILL Walking with Destiny by Andrew Roberts

If Churchill had any doubts about the wisdom of his opposition to Operation Sledgehammer, they were laid to rest three days later by Operation Jubilee, Lord Louis Mountbatten’s disastrous Combined Operations raid on Dieppe, which had been intended to placate the Russians, test German defences, draw forces to the west and boost morale. It turned out to be a complete fiasco, in which 68% of the mainly Canadian troops who took part were killed, wounded or captured. Five days later Churchill asked Ismay to ‘ascertain the facts’ about the planning of the raid, in particular whose idea it had been ‘to attack the strongly fortified town front without first securing the cliffs on either side, and to use our tanks in frontal assault off the beaches’. Ismay replied eight days afterwards, enclosing Mountbatten’s report, which blamed Montgomery, who was then in charge of South-Eastern Command. Occupied by many other things, Churchill took it no further, but when he came to write his memoirs in 1950 ‘hesmelled a rat and was determined to find it’: the truth behind the raid.

Churchill discovered that there had been two plans to attack Dieppe. Montgomery’s, codenamed Operation Rutter, had been abandoned and replaced with Jubilee, Mountbatten’s concept and the one put into operation on August 19 1942. Churchill then asked whether the Chiefs of Staff or Defence Committee or War Cabinet had ever formally approved Jubilee, ‘or was it pushed through by Dickie Mountbatten on his own without reference to higher authority?’ When Ismay investigated it became clear that the latter was the correct explanation, whereupon Mountbatten became seriously agitated. He sent pages of tendentious corrections to Churchill’s draft memoirs, suggested that Ismay refuse to give Churchill copyright permission for his report and argued that the 68% casualty figure was ‘not one which our side should stress.’ Mountbatten effectively begged Ismay – who had been his chief of staff when he was viceroy of India three years earlier – not to expose him as the person behind the planning of Jubilee.

Mountbatten’s cover-up went so far as to assert that the naval commander for the raid, Vice-Admiral John Hughes-Hallett, had discussed it with Churchill beforehand. (Hughes- Hallett told Ismay that he could not remember whether the conversation had taken place before or afterwards.) Mountbatten also stated that the reason the Chiefs of Staff had no record of discussing the Jubilee plan was for reasons of security, even though plenty of equally sensitive operations were routinely recorded in the Chiefs of Staff Committee minutes. Under time pressure from his American publishers, Churchill simply accepted all of Mountbatten’s revisions and amendments, which as historian David Reynolds points out, ‘passed responsibility back to Churchill and the Chiefs, played down the Canadian losses and played up the benefits of the operation’, which were actually somewhere between minimal and non-existent.

 

Further on Winston Churchill’s knowledge of the remake of the Raid

Road to Victory, Winston S. Churchill 1941 – 1945 by Martin Gilbert

The 7th volume of the “Official Biography” details a meeting between Churchill and Stalin which commenced on August 12 1942. Three days later Churchill’s interpreter Major A.H. Birse noted Churchill’s comments to Stalin –

“In order to make Germany anxious about an attack from across the Channel, there will be a more serious raid in August, although the weather might upset it. Some 8,000 men with 50 tanks will be landed. They will stay a night and a day, kill as many Germans as possible and take prisoners. Then they will withdraw...The object is to get information and to create the impression of an invasion. Most important, I hope it will call forth a big air battle.”*

*Premier Papers, 3/76A/12, folios 30-4

 

“Dieppe, Tragedy to Triumph” – by Brigadier General Denis Whitaker and Shelagh Whitaker

On the morning of August 15, anticipating another difficult encounter, Churchill cabled Ismay for more information on the proposed raid against France that he could use to counter Stalin’s expected attack on him.

“What is the position about renewal of Rutter?” Churchill had demanded. Ismay’s immediate reply was reassuring: “Jubilee, which is re-named Rutter in all essential features, is due to be carried out First Light 18 August. If weather unfavourable 18 August, operation can be launched any subsequent day up to 24 August inclusive.”*

*PRO (Public Record Office) CAB 120/69, Tulip No. 145, August 15, 1942


Further Opinions -

Brereton Greenhouse wrote in The Canadian Encyclopedia, after stating that it was a “major disaster”, he accepted the standard opinion that: “The raid did provide valuable experience for subsequent amphibious assaults in North Africa, Italy and most notably Normandy.”

However, Pierre Berton wrote, in “Marching as to War”: “At Dieppe the intelligence was execrable. The Canadians thought they would be facing a small force of second-rate troops. In fact, the force against them was far larger and tougher than they expected.” Berton referred to the raid as a “tragic bungle”. He summarized his view: “How ironic it is for Canadians the defining battle of the Great War was a glorious victory (Vimy), while its counterpart, twenty-five years later, was a bitter defeat (Dieppe).”

In “One Day in August” Professor David O’Keefe opined that the main intent of the raid was to steal a four-rotor enigma machine, although, this contention has been dismissed by other historians. The Royal Canadian Legion magazine issue of July/August 2018 included a “Face to Face” debate on this contention, and can be downloaded on this link

Finally –

There was no doubt of the opinion of one of the recipients of the Victoria Cross in the raid. Captain Peter Porteous is quoted in his obituary in the Globe and Mail of October 16, 2000. He said, “The people who planned it should be shot.”

We would welcome your comments on this important part of Canadian History. Please e-mail, Terry Reardon – reardont@rogers.com

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