Today is a special day in Calgary, and across Canada. It’s a day when we all take a step back to remember the courage and bravery of Canadians during the Dieppe Raid, 75 years ago.
August 19, 1942, was a tragic day for Canada, when some 1,950 soldiers were taken prisoner, hundreds were wounded, and 916 made the ultimate sacrifice.
It was a day that saw the Calgary Tank Regiment—now known as the King’s Own Calgary Regiment—play a critical role, and pay a terrible price. Most members of the King’s Own were drawn from Calgary and the area. 13 men were lost that day while 33 were wounded and 157 became prisoners of war for over two-and-a-half years.
Their job was to land 58 tanks on the beach that day to support the infantry. As we all know, the operation did not go according to plan. While the tanks could not manoeuvre on the beach as planned, they did fulfil their mission to support the infantry, valiantly providing covering fire for the evacuating troops.
There were many acts of valour and heroism that day, and Calgarians will always be remembered for their courage during the Dieppe Raid.
I am proud to be on this journey with Mr. Stanley Edwards, a member of the 14th Calgary Regiment. Born in Big Valley, Alberta, he joined the Canadian Army two days after his 18th birthday and took part in the Dieppe Raid where he was taken as a prisoner of war for two and a half years before making his way to Poland until the arrival of Russian forces. He later came home, and built his life right here in our great city. Sadly, his two brothers never made it back. Spending time and being on this trip with Stan is an experience I’ll never forget.
While all of you are marking this important military milestone in Calgary today, we will be paying tribute in Dieppe, France, where the King’s Own Calgary Regiment will unveil a monument to honour the selfless bravery and sacrifices of all our troops that day. Depicting the ring of steel that the tanks created on the beach to shield the infantry who were under continuous fire, this memorial will forever commemorate Calgary’s King’s Own’s actions on that day.
Another courageous Calgarian who was at the Dieppe Raid was Captain Douglas Purdy, who made the ultimate sacrifice that day. A military memorial bursary was created in his name at Mount Royal University where he used to be a student. Congratulations in advance to the recipient who will be awarded today.
These men were among the more than one million men and women who served in Canada’s military during the Second World War, which claimed the lives of more than 45,000 Canadians. This is why ceremonies like the one happening here today, and across Canada and in France, are so important and such a critical part of what we do at Veterans Affairs Canada, to ensure future generations always remember stories like these… that they always remember the honour and sacrifices of our men and women in uniform.
Lest we forget.