Quotulatiousness

August 23, 2017

One definite success from the Dieppe raid

Filed under: Cancon, France, Germany, History, Military — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

The allied attack on Dieppe in August, 1942 was an operational failure: nearly 60% of the raiding force were killed, wounded or captured and the tactical objectives in the harbour area were not achieved. I’ve mentioned the speculations on an Enigma side-operation (which does not seem to be given credence by most historians), using the main Canadian attack as cover for an attempt to snatch the latest German encryption device from one or more high-security locations within the target area. A second side-mission was also conducted to capture one of the newest German radar stations at Pourville, just down the coast from Dieppe:

Aerial reconnaissance photos indicated that one of these new Freya radar sets had been installed at Pourville-sur-Mer, near Dieppe. A military raid on Dieppe, to test British and Canadian plans for an amphibious invasion, was already being planned. Senior officers immediately added a sub-plan to the Dieppe raid: a small force would be detached to attack the Pourville radar station. There, a radar expert would dismantle the station’s vital equipment and transport it back to the UK for analysis.

A German FuMG 401 “Freya LZ” radar station of the type installed at Pourville. (US National Archives and Records Administration image, via Wikimedia)

Nissenthall, a Jewish cockney who had a lifelong fascination with electronics and radio technology, had joined the Air Force as an apprentice in 1936. By the outbreak of the war in 1939 he was assigned to RAF radio direction finding stations (RDF, the short-lived original term for radar) and rapidly built up a reputation as a competent and technically skilled operator. Before the war he had also worked directly with Robert Watson-Watt, widely regarded today as the father of radar.

[…]

More than 5,000 soldiers of the First Canadian Division set off from the south coast of England in the early hours of 19 August 1942. Embedded with A Company of the South Saskatchewan Regiment, Nissenthall’s 11-man bodyguard landed on French soil – but on the wrong side of the Scie River from the radar station.

After finding their way to their intended starting point, the team ran into stiff German resistance. Casualties soon mounted up as they probed the area, looking for a way into the radar station.

Thanks to the Bruneval raid six months previously, the Germans had beefed up their defences around coastal radar stations. This, combined with the naivete of the Allied planners back in Britain, had left the Canadians exposed and vulnerable. Though Nissenthall’s team had just about reached the radar station, there was no hope they would be able to get inside it, much less examine it, dismantle it and take away the most valuable parts of the Freya set inside.

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by WordPress