Meeting Minutes: Mike Bechtold - Dieppe - January 9th. 2020
9:55 President Julian Sale called meeting to order.
Welcome to everyone and a special welcome to speaker Mike Bechtold.
4 guests were introduced. Dave Timms, Bill Gaines, David Thompson, Joe Wilson.
Club News-President’s remarks Julian noted that a card had been sent to family of John Pawley on his passing. We had received correspondence back from his wife and she had been very pleased to receive as club had been an important part of John’s life. Also wanted to thank club for donation to their church in his memory. Julian also mentioned that our member Bruce Whitestone has his 97th birthday in December. Remarkable! Also Ed Herold had another setback and a card was available for members to sign.
Activities Ken Marchant chair of committee presented a few of the upcoming activities. First is Valentine’s dinner February 14 being held at Symposium. 6:00 PM start and pay server. $35 per person plus tip and tax and drinks. There is a limit of 24/25 persons. Also in near future is annual club lunch set for April 2 in church hall after meeting. Similar menu to past of lasagna and Caesar salad. $16 per plate and optional tip for caterer.
Coffee Club. Andy Curtis reminded everyone of coffee club held between regular meetings and next week is at Symposium or Airpark Cafe at 10 AM. All welcome.
Speaker. John Sneyd introduced Mike Bechtold and welcomed back Mike as he spoke to club last year. Mike is at Wilfred Laurier University and editor of Military Journal. Mike lives in the area and John declared him as Royal City Men’s Club “Military Historian”. Synopsis of presentation. Raid on Dieppe was referred to as Operation Jubilee and took place August 19, 1942. It was single worst day of war for Canadian casualties. 900 were killed. Mike has visited there so has firsthand knowledge of the terrain and the difficulties that were faced. Why was raid planned? America had just joined war and Soviets were doing badly and Churchill wanted a diversion. Thought this would allow allies to do commando raids elsewhere. Operation on coast could give relief to Soviets on eastern front. Historian David O’Keefe suggested real reason for raid was to mask an operation to seize the German Enigma code machine. Why were Canadians involved? It was felt they were best prepared and had not had a lot of involvement in war until that time. McKenzie King P.M. committed to sending 3 divisions. Originally planned for July 2-3 but was delayed due to bad weather. Goal of raid was to surprise, with speed and shock and not pure firepower. Plan was to destroy radar, power stations and petrol dumps. Also capture prisoners. Raid would be supported by aircraft both bombers and fighters. Mike shows map of plan. Was supposed to be done quickly and get out fast. Commando raids were also done on outlying beaches. #4 commando raid was successful and there were many German casualties there. Beach was very narrow with cliffs on both sides. Germans were also well prepared. Puys area was also very poor landing place and result was a slaughter. Dieppe main area had a fortified wall and was very difficult for men and machines to move beyond it. Some Americans were also killed but Canada endured 900 killed, 1000 wounded and 1900 prisoners. Raid was a failure but Canada did want to participate and there was a learning opportunity for future operations.
Questions: How do you spike artillery? “Ram gun down or place explosive” What British tank was used? “ 2 types-Infantry and Churchill” Is there a celebration of Dieppe or is it done as part of D-Day? “Canadian troops liberated area in 1945 so yes.” How many Victoria Crosses were awarded? “3. One was for a Padre that stayed with captured troops” How did Mike become interested in war history? “Always had an interest and likely because his grandfather had enlisted”. Where were prisoners sent? “Different camps were used but Mike did not specify”.
John Sneyd thanked Mike for a most compelling presentation. Julian closed meeting with announcement of next meeting with speaker Kyle Horner, discussing stressed wildlife. Formal Closure 11:00 AM.