One Day in August by David O'Keefe | Warfare | Unrest

ONE DAY IN

DAVID O’KEEFE

AUGUST
THE UNTOLD STORY BEHIND CANADA’S TRAGEDY AT DIEPPE
ALFRED A. KNOPF CANADA

Achnacarry OPERATIONS ANKLET AND ARCHERY
ENGLAND AND FRANCE, 1942

Glasgow

—————————

UNITED KINGDOM
Bletchley Oxford Portsmouth London Southampton Plymouth
Isle of Wight

Cambridge

Amsterdam

NETHERLANDS
Brussels

English Channel

Deal Newhaven Dover Calais Dunkirk Boulogne Dieppe Le Havre Rouen Paris

Cherbourg Caen

BELGIUM

Brest

St-Nazaire

FRANCE

N

Bayonne

prologue

August 19, 1942, 0347 hours, English Channel off Dieppe, Normandy, France

M

 

oving swiftly across the slick deck of the drab grey British destroyer HMS Fernie and up onto the bridge, a peacoat-clad Royal Naval Voluntary Reserve officer from Special Branch discarded his hand-rolled cigarette and pressed his binoculars to his eyes, adjusting the focus wheel to account for the darkness. In the distance, a series of fire-red mushroom-shaped explosions merged with the silver glow of bursting star shells and a carnival of red, orange and green tracer fire that darted back and forth just above the ink-black waterline. Then came the echo of staccato machine-gun and high-powered cannon fire, punctuated at irregular intervals by the whiplash crack of larger-calibre naval gunfire. Straining to discern friend from foe, Commander Ian Fleming stood among a group of Allied journalists, broadcasters and photographers and American military observers expecting to witness the successful execution of the largest amphibious raid of the war to date, known as Operation Jubilee. But it was now clear to all aboard that something had gone wrong, and that the carefully synchronized raid, planned by Lord Louis Mountbatten’s Combined Operations Headquarters and involving a largely Canadian force, had begun sixtythree minutes prematurely. Ian Fleming—who a decade later would write Casino Royale and launch his immortal James Bond dynasty—was listed innocuously on
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the ship’s manifest that day as a “guest.” For years, historians and biographers have asserted that the normally desk-bound member of the British Naval Intelligence Division played no role other than that of observer, and that Fleming’s natural desire for action and adventure, fused with an innate talent for bureaucratic machination, had landed him a prize seat on the Fernie, the backup command ship. But this “guest” was in fact present in an official capacity—to oversee a critical intelligence portfolio, one of many he handled as personal assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence, Rear Admiral John Godfrey. He was on board to witness the launch of a highly specialized commando unit that had been created specifically to carry out skilled and dangerous operations deemed of the greatest urgency and importance to the war effort. Fleming’s crack commando unit was set to make its debut under cover of this landmark raid on the coast of German-occupied France. With the dawn, however, came the sober realization that the raid had gone off the rails in truly epic fashion. As the sky lightened, Fleming could see heavy German fire coming from the hotels that lined the beachfront and ribbons of flame flaring out from the towering clifftops. Below, the main beach—which had hosted generations of English vacationers, including Fleming himself, who had won and lost at the tables of its seaside casino before the war—had become a killing field for the assaulting troops. Catching quick glimpses of the scene through the swirling smokescreen, he could make out small black, motionless dots on the rocky beach where countless Canadian soldiers now lay dead and wounded, and scores of tanks and landing craft sitting abandoned or burning alongside them. Above the town hung an ominous black, acrid cloud, periodically pierced by German and British fighters swooping down to search out quarry, while rapidfiring anti-aircraft guns from both sides swept the sky with bright yellow and orange tracer fire. The roar of aircraft engines, the sounds of machine-gun and cannon fire, and the explosion of artillery and
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P ro l o g u e
mortar shells shook the air, as British destroyers attempted to assist the men pinned down on the beach, and now holding on for dear life. Just seven hundred yards offshore, Fleming watched helplessly as his fledgling commando unit headed through the heavy smokescreen in their landing craft towards the deadly maelstrom. Tragically, what was about to occur was not simply the final act in the darkest day in Canadian military history but the beginning of one of the most controversial episodes of the entire Second World War. This one day in August—August 19, 1942—would haunt the survivors and leave the country struggling to understand why its young men had been sent to such a slaughter on Dieppe’s beaches.    But what was known only to the young Commander Ian Fleming and a few others was that the raid on this seemingly unimportant French port had at its heart a potentially war-changing mission—one whose extreme secrecy and security ensured that its purpose would remain among the great mysteries of the Second World War. Fleming’s presence on board the Fernie connected the deadly Dieppe Raid with the top-secret British intelligence-gathering operation dubbed “Ultra,” one of the most closely guarded secrets of wartime Britain. And understanding exactly why Ian Fleming was on board the Fernie that day was a key that helped me finally to unravel the mystery behind the raid. Over almost two decades I combed through nearly 150,000 pages of historical documents and interviewed participants in the raid (as well as filming them for the documentary Dieppe Uncovered, aired simultaneously in England and Canada on August 19, 2012). The pieces of the jigsaw puzzle are at last largely in place. Locked away until now in dusty archives, the story unfolded and took shape over time as intelligence agencies and archive facilities in Britain, the United States and Canada released long-classified documents withheld for seven decades from public view. Slowly, each piece was added to the puzzle until, at the end of my journey, I found a story that rivalled a Tom Clancy or a James Bond thriller—although this saga
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was all too true. And this stunning discovery, kept under wraps until now, necessitates a reconsideration of this phase of the Second World War and a reassessment of the painful legacy of Dieppe. As Ron Beal, a Dieppe veteran, said to me after I laid out the story for him: “Now I can die in peace. Now I know what my friends died for . . .”

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PUBLISHED BY ALFRED A. KNOPF CANADA
Copyright © 2013 David O’Keefe

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review. Published in 2013 by Alfred A. Knopf Canada, a division of Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto. Distributed in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited. www.randomhouse.ca Knopf Canada and colophon are registered trademarks. Pages 452–457 constitute a continuation of the copyright page.

LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA CATALOGUING IN PUBLICATION O’Keefe, David R., 1967– , author One day in August : the untold story behind Canada’s tragedy in Dieppe / David O’Keefe. Includes bibliographical references and index. Issued in print and electronic formats. ISBN 978-0-345-80769-4 1. Dieppe Raid, 1942. 2. World War, 1939–1945—Cryptography. 3. World War, 1939– 1945—Military intelligence. 4. Canada. Canadian Army—History—World War, 1939– 1945. I. Title. D756.5.D5O54 2013 940.54'21425 C2013-901551-5

Text, maps and cover design by Andrew Roberts Printed and bound in the United States of America

246897531

One Day in August
The Untold Story Behind Canada's Tragedy at Dieppe By David O'Keefe

In a narrative as powerful and moving as it is authoritative, David O’Keefe rewrites history, connecting Canada’s tragedy at Dieppe with an extraordinary and colourful cast of characters—from the young Commander Ian Fleming, later to become the creator of the James Bond novels, and his team of crack commandos to the code-breaking scientists of Bletchley Park (the closely guarded heart of Britain’s wartime Intelligence and code-breaking work) to those responsible for the planning and conduct of the Dieppe Raid—Admiral John Godfrey, Lord Louis Mountbatten, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and others. The astonishing story critically changes what we thought we knew. For seven decades, the objective for the raid has been one of the most perplexing mysteries of WWII. In less than six hours on August 19, 1942, nearly one thousand Canadians—as well as British and Americans—lay dead or dying on the beaches around the French seaside town, with over two thousand other Canadians wounded or captured. These awful losses have left a legacy of bitterness, recrimination and controversy. In the absence of concrete reasons for the raid, myriad theories ranging from incompetence to conspiracy developed. Over almost two decades of research, sifting through countless recently declassified Intelligence documents, David O’Keefe skillfully pieces together the story like a jigsaw puzzle to reveal the prime reason behind the raid: a highly secret mission designed, in one of Britain’s darkest times, to redress the balance of the war. One Day in August provides a thrilling, multi-layered story that fundamentally changes our understanding of this most tragic and pivotal chapter in Canada’s history. Available Where Ever Books Are Sold! Hardcover Amazon | Indigo eBooks Kobo |Amazon.ca |Apple | Sony |Google

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