The City of Toronto marks the 80th Anniversary of the Dieppe Raid on August 19, 2022, with commemorative ceremonies and the launch of this on-line exhibit honouring those from Toronto who were killed during the Raid, taken prisoner, injured as well as those who survived.

 

Wreath Laying Ceremony
Friday, August 19, 2022

8 – 8:30 a.m.
Cenotaph, Old City Hall
60 Queen St. W.

  • The Mayor of Toronto and other representatives will lay wreaths to honour Canadian soldiers, including the over 200 soldiers from Toronto, who made the ultimate sacrifice at Dieppe on August 19, 1942.

Commemoration of Torontonians Fallen at Dieppe
Friday, August 19, 2022

7 – 8 p.m.
Dieppe Park
455 Cosburn Ave.

  • Stories and information about those from Toronto who were Killed in Action, who were taken Prisoner of War,  who were on the home front and those who returned home as veterans, will be unveiled in a display with stories told by relatives.
  • At 6 p.m., prior to this ceremony, the Royal Canadian Legion, will hold a wreath laying ceremony at the East York Civic Centre Cenotaph followed by a march to Dieppe Park.

Commemorative Display

The commemorative display will be shown at the following locations:

August 19 – September 9, 2022
Dieppe Park
455 Cosburn Ave.

September 12 – 23, 2022
Scarborough Civic Centre
150 Borough Dr.

September 26 – October 7, 2022
North York Civic Centre – North East Grounds
5100 Yonge Str.

October 10 – 21, 2022
Etobicoke Civic Centre
399 The West Mall

November 4 – 11, 2022
Toronto City Hall – Rotunda
100 Queen St. W.

On August 19, 1942, the Allied forces executed a raid on the French coastal town of Dieppe. Known as Operation Jubilee, almost 5,000 of the 6,000 troops at Dieppe were Canadians. While these forces were not yet ready for a full-scale invasion of France, the Dieppe raid was designed to test the plans that were being created for a later, larger assault. The operation was originally planned for July but was delayed until August due to poor weather.

The plan was for the troops to attack Dieppe from five different points along the beach, with the first wave going in just before dawn. Massive cliffs riddled with German strongholds loomed over the beaches of Dieppe, leaving the Allied soldiers in clear view and vulnerable to attack. The cover of night would be key if the Allies were to be successful.

The Cliffs of Dieppe
The Cliffs of Dieppe, Credit: Toronto Archives Fonds 10048, Series 1098, Item 0014.

However, on the morning of August 19, an Allied landing craft encountered a German convoy, engaging in gunfire that alerted the Germans on land. Although they had hoped to land under the cover of night, this encounter delayed the Allies until after daybreak and their arrival was now expected.

The Royal Regiment landed at Puys, also known as Blue Beach. This beach was extremely narrow, with a high, barbed-wired sea wall and soaring cliffs. In the light of day, the Germans were easily able to attack the incoming troops.  A few were able to get over the wall, but most of the Royal Regiment was pinned on the beach and forced to surrender within a few hours of landing. Canadian soldiers on the other beaches of Dieppe also had the same experience.

Dieppe had the highest number of Canadian casualties in a single day during World War II.

Dieppe was a pivotal lesson for the Allied nations and would be useful in D-Day preparations that would later turned the tide in World War II two years later, in 1944. But it came at a steep price for Canada and many Torontonians. On the 80th anniversary of this raid, Toronto remembers its  many brave residents who fought at Dieppe.

While Dieppe resulted in the highest number of Canadian casualties in a single day during World War II, the impact of this day was keenly felt in Toronto. Toronto was a city with just over 600,000 inhabitants at the time, and many parents, siblings and spouses of the soldiers were left grieving the loss of their loved ones. Most of those killed at Dieppe were quite young given that the average age of Torontonians who died at Dieppe was 26, with some only 18 years of age. To this day, the Dieppe Raid continues to represent the largest loss of life in a single day, for all wars in Toronto’s history.
A black and white photo of a group of soldiers posing after training at Exhibition Place.
Training at Exhibition Place, 1940, Credit: Jayne Poolton-Turvey, Dieppe Blue Beach – Every Man Remembered
The localized impact of the high number of casualties was connected to losses in the Royal Regiment of Canada, soldiers whom were largely drawn from Toronto along with the Toronto Scottish Regiment, the Royal Canadian Engineers, 2 Field Company and others.
A black and white photo of soldiers parading down Bloor Street with onlookers watching
Marching on Bloor Street. Credit: Jayne Poolton-Turvey, Dieppe Blue Beach – Every Man Remembered

Of the 4,963 Canadians who embarked on the raid, 10 per cent (554) were either born, lived or enlisted in what is now Toronto.

  • 187 were Killed in Action on August 19, 1942 – one quarter of the 807 Canadians that died that day.
  • 17 died as a result of injuries incurred at Dieppe.
  • 208 who came onshore at Dieppe were captured and survived as Prisoners of War – 10 per cent of the 1,946 Canadian soldiers taken prisoner – 20 did not survive prison camp.
  • 144 survived and were evacuated.
A black and white photo of two soldiers posing at Union Station both are returning from Dieppe and one soldier uses crutches due to an amputated leg.
Dieppe War Heroes at Union Station, Toronto [ca. 1945] Credit: Archives of Ontario, C 5-1-0-92-4, I0002715

 

A black and white photo of a group of soldiers posing after training at Exhibition Place.
Training at Exhibition Place, 1940, Credit: Jayne Poolton-Turvey, Dieppe Blue Beach – Every Man Remembered

While Dieppe resulted in the highest number of Canadian casualties in a single day during World War II, the impact of this day was disproportionately felt in Toronto. A city with just over 600,000 inhabitants at the time, many parents, siblings and spouses were left grieving the loss of their loved ones. Most of those killed at Dieppe were quite young given that the average age of Torontonians who died at Dieppe was 29, with some only 18 years of age. To this day, the Dieppe Raid continues to represent the largest loss of life in a single day in all wars in Toronto’s history.

The localized impact of the high number of casualties was connected to losses in the Royal Regiment of Canada, who were  largely drawn from Toronto along with the Toronto Scottish Regiment, the Royal Canadian Engineers, 2 Field Company and others.

Of the 4,963 Canadians who embarked on the raid, 10 per cent (554) were either born, lived or enlisted in what is now Toronto.

Image of Dieppe War Heroes at Union Station
Dieppe War Heroes at Union Station, Toronto [ca. 1945]
Credit: Archives of Ontario, C 5-1-0-92-4, I0002715
  • 187 were Killed in Action on August 19, 1942 – one quarter of the 807 Canadians that died that day.
  • 16 died as a result of injuries incurred at Dieppe
  • 208 who came onshore at Dieppe were captured and survived as Prisoners of War – 10 per cent of the 1,946 Canadian soldiers taken prisoner – 20 did not survive prison camp.
  • 144 survived and were evacuated.

 

Since 1942, Toronto has honoured and remembered the Raid in several ways:

1943 – Dieppe Park

On January 11, 1943, the then East York Township council renamed the park: Dieppe Park.  A memorial plaque at Dieppe Park honours those who fought on the beaches at Dieppe in France, and was unveiled on July 20, 2003.

1953 – Visit to Dieppe, France

In June 1953, following a visit to England for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, Mayor Allan Lamport (who was a Squadron Leader with the Royal Canadian Air Force from 1939-1945) visited Dieppe, France and other significant war memorials and cenotaphs in the country to honour the fallen.

1967 – 25th Anniversary

Prisoners of war taken at Dieppe marked the 25th Anniversary of the Raid with a march on Nathan Phillips Square and wreath laying at the Old City Hall Cenotaph.

1992 – 50th Anniversary

Mayor June Rowlands presided over a ceremony, attended by the Governor General, at the Old City Hall Cenotaph, “Fifty Years Since Dieppe”, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Battle.


Image of the plaque at Dieppe Park
Photo of Plaque at Dieppe Park.

2003

A memorial plaque at Dieppe Park honours those who fought on the beaches at Dieppe in France, and was unveiled on July 20, 2003. The plaque states:

On August 19, 1942, 6,000 allied troops embarked on 250 vessels from Southern England on a daylight raid on the German occupied French resort town of Dieppe. Almost 5000 of these soldiers were young Canadian men.

 Of the Canadians who embarked on the raid, almost 4000 were killed, wounded or taken prisoner.

Of the 1000 soldiers who returned to England, 600 of them were wounded.

On January 11, 1943, East York Township Council renamed this site Dieppe Park.  This plaque is a permanent memorial to honour the brave soldiers who fought and died for our country.

 

The Story Through Maps

These maps display the locations of those killed in the Dieppe Raid, using the current boundaries of the City of Toronto. The impact to Toronto in terms of lives lost impacted every area of the city.

Map 1 – Torontonians Killed in the Dieppe Raid

Map 2 – Torontonians Killed in the Dieppe Raid, by ward

Map 3 – Torontonians Killed in Dieppe Raid by community council areas

Killed in Action

August 19, 1942

Edward William Adams 
Samuel Adams
Ernest Ainsworth
James Alexander
Dennis Gwnfryn Ambrey 
Arden Arthur Armstrong
Thomas Miller Armstrong
William David Bache
Percy Bailey
Charles Arthur Baker 
Douglas John Banks
Harold Edward Barnes
Harry Richard Barrett
James Bateman
Cecil Frederick Bath
Albert Edward Bathgate
Herbert Edgar Bell
Llewellyn Clarke Bell
Charles Henry Bendall
Frederick Alonzo Benford
Oliver Lorraine Bergey
James Edward Binns
William Nichol Bisset
George Page Bloomfield
Leslie Earnest Bockus
James Erwin Bolitho
Donald Smilie Briggs
Raymond Brooks
Alexander Brown
Russell Roderick Brown
Frank Oswald Brown
William Albert Brown
Ronald Dewar Bryan
Meyer Bubis
Norman Buchanan
James Burnett
Ernest George Edward Calway
Charles Enos Christian
Charles Thomas Christie
Ivan Clarke
Joseph Coffey
Lionel Cohen 
Frank Cowlishaw
Charles Crabtree
Albert Edward Cunningham
Harold W. Davis
George Harold Davis
Erskine Robert Eaton
William Edwards
Michael Hubert Fiest
James Lawrence Finley
John Alexander Foster
Albert George Frost
Albert James Gammon
Albert James Gibson
George Charles Gillard
Robert Gilliland
Joseph Glover
Thomas Gorman 
John Mark Gralick
Henry William Grear
Simon Green
Morris Greenberg
Albert William Guthrie
Charles Haggerty
David Hassell
William Hawes
Andrew Redpath Hendry
Edwin Harold Hillier
James Arthur Holohan
Stewart Kenneth Houser
Darcy Lynn Howick
John Hughan 
Kenneth James Ingram
William Stewart Milford Jacobs
Christopher Johnston
Orill Edward Jones
Nelson Jones
William Henry Jordan
Carl Thomas Keesler
Gordon Fourest Klassen
James Owen Lamb
Ross Laver
Albert Edward Lee
Raymond Thomas Lloyd
Leonard Lloyd 
Norman William Lowden 
Morris Lozdon
Cyril George Ludgate
William Thompson Luey
Frederick Harold Luke
Paul Leon Magner
John Marchello
William James Marsh
John Allister Mason
Paul Martin
JJ Maville
Clarence Wilson McBride
John Joseph McCarthy
Robert William McClean
George Frederick McClean
Watson Harold McCluskey
James Arnold McFadden
Norman Johnston McGlashan
Thomas McIvor
Albert George McKinley
Norman Victor McLean
Robert William McLeod
Daniel Mitchell McNerney
Austin Wallace Mighton
Gordon Mitich
William George Moffatt
Arthur William Montgomery
Henry Noel Morris
Herbert Morrison
John Murray
Ronald Neveu
Harold James Norris
Rupert Simpson Oakley
Norman George Orpen
William Jacob Orr
Anthony James Pallister-Young
William Clark Patterson
John Joseph Patton
Ewart Peaks
John Duckenfield Pearce
Frederick Petherbridge
Harvey Phillips
Alfred Herbert Polden
Wesley Elmer Post
Walter Edward Gordon Ramage
Leslie Walter Reid
Gordon Reith
Martin Relf
Joseph Rhuda
Bertram Austin Richards
John Herbert Roberts
George William Roberts
Donald Ernest Rouse
Larry Rowan
TD Russell
William Albert Rutherford
John Henry Scott
John Leslie Scott
Douglas Simpson
George Graham Sinclair
Richard John Smith
Robert Smith
John Josiah Smith
Edward George Smith
Donald Smith 
William James Southwood
James Henry Speed
Harold Leslie Spike
Cyril Lloyd Sproule
John Wesley Stevenson
Harry Still
Earl James Sullivan
Donald Barrington Taylor
Charles Hadfield Teather
Joseph Thompson
Willard Brewing Thomson
William Shirley Patrick Thornbury
Harry George Tucker
William George Tunstead
Frederick George Twydale
Robert Cecil Stowe Upton
John Alfred Wain
John Todd Walker 
Roy Alexander Walker 
Roy Elson Walker 
Leslie Elay Wall
Carl Basil Walsh
William Alexander Walter
Roland Edward Ward
Edwin Harris Wardell
Stanley Wasik
Howard Watson
William George Roger Wedd
James Robert White
Mason Lewis Williams
Thomas Edward Williams
Arthur Clifford Woodbury
Reginald Donald Woodley
Charles Kenneth Wright
Walter Yasyszczuk
Harry Kirk Young 

Killed as a result of injuries at Dieppe

Henry William Barfield
David Ralph Barton
Murray Irving Bleeman
Robert Ernest Boyes
Frank Edwin England
David Belgrave Higgins
Albert Hutson
David Percival Johnston
Stewart Millar
Ralph Eric Montgomery
William Neelands
Gordon Poole
George Percival Scholfield
James Sinclair
William Thomson Thomas Steenson
Stephen Youell 

Portrait of Private Arthur William Montgomery
Private Arthur William Montgomery, Credit: Operation Picture Me, Canadian Virtual War Memorial.

Killed in Action: The Montgomery Twins

Private Arthur William Montgomery
Royal Regiment of Canada
Died: August 19, 1942 at age 23

Private Ralph Eric Montgomery
Royal Regiment of Canada
Died: August 21, 1942 at age 23

Twin brothers Arthur and Ralph Montgomery joined the Royal Regiment of Canada on the same day in 1940. They trained together, fought together at Dieppe and ultimately died together at the age of 23. Ralph was injured and succumbed to his wounds on August 21, 1942, while Arthur was reported missing after the raid but later confirmed to have been Killed in Action on August 19. Growing up in the Gerrard and Greenwood area of Toronto, the twins’ lifelong friend Private Russell Roderick Brown also enlisted with them in 1940 and died at Dieppe on August 19.

Portrait of Private Ralph Eric Montgomery
Private Ralph Eric Montgomery.
Credit: Operation Picture Me, Canadian Virtual War Memorial

In 1941, when they first went overseas, the twins wrote their mother a letter saying, “if anything should happen to us, keep your chin up, Mom.” Mrs. Montgomery remained a steadfast supporter of war bonds even after the death of her sons. The Montgomery twins left behind their parents, Mr. and Mrs. C.W. Montgomery, as well as their brothers, Corporal Roy Montgomery and Leading Aircraftman, Wilfred Montgomery who were also fighting in the war.

 

A black and white photo of a company of soldiers posing on a field in England prior to departing for Dieppe. Morris Greenberg is in the front row, second from the left.
Morris Greenberg, front row second from left, and company, just days before the Dieppe Raid. Credit: Jayne Poolton-Turvey, Dieppe Blue Beach – Every Man Remembered

Sergeant Morris Greenberg
Royal Regiment of Canada
Died: August 19, 1942 at age 24

The day after the war broke out, Morris Greenberg enlisted with the Royal Regiment. During the Dieppe Raid, Greenberg was gravely injured but continued to assist numerous wounded soldiers, risking his own life to pull them
onto a landing craft. Originally listed as missing, he was then reported as Killed in Action at Dieppe at just 24 years of age.

He had been promoted to Sergeant prior to the Dieppe Raid and wrote to his mother that he had been urged to take an officer’s training course despite feeling he needed more experience as a soldier.

Morris, or Moe, worked as a tie cutter for a shirt and neckwear firm before the war. He was also active in the Jewish People’s Library and was a talented Yiddish poet.  Greenberg left behind his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Greenberg and brother, Irving Greenberg.

Irving also enlisted shortly after the war broke out at age 17 and served with the 48th Highlanders.  As part of an anti-aircraft battery unit in England during the war, he was credited with shooting down several enemy planes. Irving transferred to the Royal Regiment after Morris’s death.

The Royal Regiment established the Moe Greenberg Trophy. This annual award is given to the recruit whose performance was considered superior to all other recruits upon completion of training in the last year.

Portrait of William Wedd in uniform.
William Wedd
Credit: Operation Picture Me, Canadian Virtual War Memorial

Lieutenant William George Rogers Wedd who lived in the Bedford Park area, was a member of the Royal Regiment of Canada. He landed with his platoon at Blue Beach in the first wave. Under heavy fire, he was able to bring his platoon to the sea wall and then realized only about 10 of his men had survived thus far. A pill box on top of the sea wall was sending heavy fire towards Wedd’s platoon. Seeing no other way, Wedd instructed the laying of a Bangalore torpedo, blowing a hole in the barbed wire on top of the sea wall. Wedd then led his platoon through the gap toward a direct assault on the pill box.

Despite being hit by many bullets, Wedd pressed on ahead, ultimately throwing a grenade into the pill box and eliminating the threat to his platoon. Unfortunately, Wedd was killed in the pill box at the age of 28. Wedd was awarded the Croix de Guerre avec Etoile d’Argent from France for being mortally injured at point blank range, sacrificing himself for the safety of those in his command.

Before the war, Wedd was an active golfer, swimmer and skier. He attended Vaughan Road Collegiate Institute and then worked at a bank at Roselawn and Yonge. His two cousins, Sub-Lieutenant Andrew Wedd and Flight Lieutenant Michael Wedd, also fought at Dieppe. He left behind a fiancé, Audrey Badgerow, his parents, his brother Robert Wedd who was also serving in the Royal Regiment and his sister Eileen.

Four young men from Toronto enlisted with the Royal Regiment of Canada (RRC). They would go on to train together, fight together at Dieppe and were ultimately taken as Prisoners of War (POW) together.  They endured harsh conditions as POWs and survived, but they carried haunting memories of the experience for the rest of their lives. Following their liberation, all four men returned to Toronto to build their lives, and were once again reunited as police recruits for the Metropolitan (Toronto) Police Service.

Lance Corporal Campbell Harry Brown

Lance Corporal Campbell H. (Harry) Brown was born in Toronto and enlisted in 1940 at the age of 18. As his group arrived in the landing craft in the second wave, every soldier was killed before stepping foot off the boat, except for Campbell and the man to his left. He made it to the seawall uninjured until the surrender.
Black and white portrait of Lance Corporal Campbell Harry Brown in 1940.
Lance Corporal Campbell Harry Brown, 1940. Credit: Doug Olver

Lance Corporal James Duncan Donald

Lance Corporal James Duncan Donald was born in Toronto in 1920, enlisting in early 1940. He trained in Toronto and at Base Borden before departing overseas. In the first wave at Blue Beach, he was one of the few that made it up the wall where he was ultimately captured. He witnessed many friends die on the beach and attended to injured soldiers the best he could. James wrote home following capture and spoke about close friends from Toronto he saw killed as they stepped off the carrier. The letter ended up serving as a death certificate for those friends.
Portrait of Lance Corporal James Duncan Donald.
Lance Corporal James Duncan Donald. Credit: John Donald

Private William Carson Olver

Private William Carson Olver was born in Toronto in July of 1919. He enlisted when the war broke out in 1939. Arriving in the first wave at Dieppe, William was the first member of the Regiment to land at Blue Beach and reach the seawall. After blowing a hole in the wall, Olver gained access to the upper promenade of the beach, where he became trapped for approximately an hour. Unable to proceed further, he returned to the beach where he was subject to heavy fire until the surrender a few hours later.
Image of Private William Olver
Private William Carson Olver, 1949. Credit: Doug Olver

Private Charles Edward Surphlis

Sergeant Charles Edward Surphlis was born in Toronto in 1920 and was already a member of the Royals when the war broke out, having joined at the age of 16. He was part of the second wave on Blue Beach and was able to make it to the seawall. When he got to the wall, Charles (or Charlie) was shocked when a man jumping back down the wall landed directly on top of him– Private Olver. From that point on, Surphlis and Olver stayed together until they were liberated.
Black and white portrait of Private Charles Surphlis in front of 5 Selby St Toronto

After the Surrender

After the surrender, all four of these men were loaded on cattle cars and taken to the same German Prisoner of War camp- Stalag VIIIB in Lamsdorf. This was the largest camp in Germany and contained many prisoners who had fought earlier at Dunkirk. Some families received no news about their sons until letters arrived home in October, three months after the Raid.

Conditions in the camp were harsh and prisoners were shackled from October 1942 to December 1943. Toilets were referred to as “forty seaters” with open air seats situated on either side of the room. Lack of food was a constant concern. Canadians received coffee in Red Cross packages which they would trade with Americans who were given tea, and they would then reuse the same tea bag over and over again. There were no showers so prisoners would venture out to take advantage of the rain. There was no privacy and barracks were searched regularly with belongings tossed outside.

The Red Cross sent musical instruments into the camp for the prisoners to entertain themselves. Maps, papers and money were also concealed inside the skins of the drums and never found during the searches conducted by the Germans.

After some time, a few prisoners were transferred to another camp where they worked as laborers doing farm work and other duties.

The Death March and Liberation

The Death Marches began in the winter of 1944 as Russian Troops were were advancing closer to Berlin and Germany was losing the war. The prisoners marched over 500 miles each day in the winter snow for four months. They searched for any food they could find while on the march, as very little food was provided. At times, their own planes shot at them, thinking they were German soldiers. Prisoners took cover in ditches while bullets from Allied planes sprayed both sides of the ground around them. During one of these attacks, Campbell Brown and a few others were able to escape while the German soldiers were preoccupied.

After spending 33 months as prisoners of war, Olver, Donald and Surphlis were liberated by Allied forces in April of 1945.

Upon returning to England, the four men lost an average of 60-70 pounds each due to poor nutrition and illness. Following the liberation, many prisoners of war spent time in hospitals recovering from illnesses that occurred during their captivity.

Back at Home

After the war, Olver, Surphlis, Donald and Brown returned to Canada and went back to life in Toronto.

Without coordinating their plans, all four men chose to join the Toronto Police in 1945. They were shocked to see each other at the Police Academy for the first time since the war. Each of the four men went on to have policing careers that spanned more than 30 years.

The four friends rarely spoke of their time as Prisoners of War, of Dieppe or of the horror they lived through both and in the three years that followed.
Each year, they would meet at the Metro Toronto Police War Veterans Dance and kept in touch over the years. On occasion, they returned to Dieppe for commemorations and to honour the fallen who had made the ultimate sacrifice.

Campbell Brown was the last member of the group to pass away in 2020 at the age of 98. He was also the last surviving member of the regiment that had landed at Blue Beach.

Despite the unspeakable horrors of Dieppe, the years at the Prisoner of War camp and the haunting memories that they were left with, these four men developed an unbreakable bond and a friendship that lasted a lifetime.


Photo of the Military Cross medal on ribbon
The Military Cross. Credit: Veterans Affairs Canada

On the morning of August 19, Captain John Anderson was in charge of a landing craft with over 100 men on board. When it arrived on Puys beach, the boat was heavily attacked. Thinking quickly, Anderson organized Bren gunners to return fire, even operating a gun himself. When the boat reached the shore, Anderson ensured the landing of all unwounded men as well as a three-inch mortar and its ammunition. Despite being wounded in the head by shell splinters during the initial gunfire, Anderson continued to motivate and direct his men until the end of the raid. He was later evacuated to England.

Captain John Anderson displayed unwavering selflessness by continuing to lead his men despite his own injury. He was later awarded the Military Cross for his bravery.

Private Stephen Michell & Doreen Cambridge

Portrait of John Michell in uniform
Stephen Michell, Credit: John Michell

Stephen Michell and Doreen Cambridge were next door neighbours on Vaughan Road, and their families quickly became fast friends. The Cambridge family moved to England in 1938,  but fate would soon bring Stephen and Doreen back together during the Second World War. Stephen enlisted in the Royal Regiment at the start of the war, first training at Fort York, then Iceland and finally arriving in England in 1941. Asked by his uncle to deliver mail to the Cambridges upon his arrival in England, Stephen and Doreen quickly reconnected with each other. While Stephen prepared for what would be known as the Dieppe Raid, he spent his leave with Doreen who was an active member of the Canadian Women’s Auxiliary Corp (CWAC).

Doreen Michell
Doreen Michell, Credit: John Michell

Like almost 2,000 of his fellow soldiers, Stephen was taken as a prisoner of war at the Dieppe Raid. However, he and Doreen continued writing faithfully to each other. During this time, Doreen kept herself busy with the CWACs, rerouting mail to dentists stationed throughout the conflict zones.

Stephen was a member of the camp band, later composing the march “Men of Dieppe.” Stephen and the band used their music to engage in disruptive activities to derail German success. The band even aided in helping 52 men escape, playing loudly to cover up the sound of a tunnel being dug.

Image of Doreen and Stephen Home at Last
Doreen and Stephen Home at Last. Credit: John Michell

Stephen married Doreen in England after he was liberated in 1945. They returned to Toronto and moved to Hastings Avenue before building a home on Havendale Road. Stephen took a job with Canada Post and the couple welcomed four children. In 1958, the family relocated to Huntsville.

Stephen continued to compose music and published two books about his experiences, “They Were Invincible”, published in 1967 and a second, full version, “Profile on Twelve Platoon” that his son published in 2019.

He played in the Muskoka District Band well into his golden years. He passed away in 1994. Stephen’s march, “Men of Dieppe”, is still played by the Royal Regiment, and other military bands today.

Doreen later becomes Huntsville’s first ever Red Cross Homemaker: a role where women would provide homecare to local families when a parent became ill. She passed away in 2002.

Following Stephen’s death, his son was was digging through his stack of hand written manuscripts, when he came across an untitled poem written in his father’s hand.

of War…

What has happened to the world we once knew?

The world that vibrated with the Warmth of human friendship.

A love of simple things; an old beat-up jalopy, a guitar, the twinkling lights of small towns passed in the moonlight.

In those not-so-far distant days we laughed… loved… and danced to the throbbing beat of drums and keening note of saxophones and strident brass.

With full hearts and empty pockets, we toasted Eros… and were gay.

Then came the call: the bugles blew, and like the fools of every generation, we responded to the sound; aware, as all the world was well aware, a monster had arisen, and must be speedily dispatched… demolished… and interred.

The follies of the fathers must be passed down to the sons, as it has ever been since time in memorial, and therefore we must answer for the folly of Versailles.

In our blood and in the blood of millions upon millions far away, the debt must be repaid.

And as we went… millions of marching feet; each of us wearing bandoliers filled with tiny messengers of death, small, lethal hornets that hum and kill; dispatched from tubes of steel, each one intended for the heart of a brother, far away.

When Cain slew Abel, he was condemned by his kind; Outcast… adrift, a creature to be avoided and abhorred; while we, the product of a higher degree of culture, were dispatched with, love and kisses from our kin, and the blessings, and the prayers of the clergy.

It just shows how much we have advanced in a few thousand years.

Three thousand miles away, our brothers waited for us to arrive so that they could match their powers of annihilation with ours.

There was nothing personal about it; it was just that they were under orders, as were we.

The lies we both were told, were superfluous, just fodder for our consciences. On no account must we be allowed to bear the guilt of having violated the commandment:

Thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not…

Image of Joyce Crook
Joyce Crook giving a speech, alongside then Deputy Mayor Case Ootes, at the dedication of Dieppe Park honouring the 61st anniversary of the raid. August 20, 2003.

Joyce Crook was born on Dillworth Crescent in East York in 1926.  After the war started, many young men she grew up with were signing up to go overseas, filling the neighbourhood with uniformed soldiers. At school, Joyce and her classmates participated in making “bundles for Britain,” with each student knitting a seven-inch square that would be sewn into larger blankets for soldiers.

She was 16 years old in 1942 when soldiers landed on Dieppe. She still remembers an afternoon in early September when her mother mentioned a visit from the ice delivery man who told her that his only son had been killed during the Raid. That tragedy, and the tragedies of her neighbours stuck with Joyce over the years.

A decade later, Joyce decided to visit Dieppe on a trip to Europe. Standing on the beach, she could picture the landing crafts carrying the men from her neighbourhood, and many other Canadians to the beaches of Dieppe.

The following are clips and full interviews with John Olver and Doug Surphlis tell the story of their fathers and friends who became Prisoners of War after surrender at Dieppe.


Surviving the Boat


The Seawall


The Death Marches


Interview with John Olver

CORRECTION: During this interview, Mr. Olver misspoke about dates for the death marches. The POW death matches began in the January or February 1945. In Mr. Olver and Cam Brown’s situation, it started in February 1945. An incorrect date was stated in the recording.


Interview with Doug Surphlis

Image of Captain John Housser
J. Housser. Credit: Picture Me

Captain John G. Housser, M.C., E.D.

John Graham Housser was born in Toronto in 1914. He attended Upper Canada College and St. Andrew’s College. Prior to enlisting in the army, he worked for the Bank of Nova Scotia and C.T. Financial Services Inc. In 1936, John enlisted in the Royal Grenadiers as a Second Lieutenant, before transferring to the Royal Regiment of Canada in 1938.

When war broke out in 1939, John volunteered for active service, serving in both Iceland and England. On August 19, 1942, Captain Housser embarked on the Dieppe Raid where he was taken Prisoner of War and held at Offlag 7B in Eichstatt, Germany until liberation in 1945.  Housser was awarded the Military Cross for his brave leadership at Dieppe.

Upon returning to Toronto following the war, John rejoined the army reserve as served as a Reserve Major in the Royal Regiment. He continued in the army until his retirement as Brigadier General in 1958.

While detained as a POW, John wrote nearly 100 letters back home to his parents and sister, Jane, who lived on Warren Road. His family saved each letter, and they were eventually given to the Ontario Archives by John’s wife.

Here are samples of those letters.

20 Sept. ‘42

Dear Mother, Dad and Jane,

You will know by now that I am safe and well but clothes only as I stand. The others here have been kind and we are making do. You might see Red Cross re clothing parcels. I think each three months limited to 15-10 lbs.  I require one or two of the following short, underwear, socks, hanks, ties, gloves, etc. Also needles and thread, Gillette blades, shoe brush, 2 sets of metal rank badges (bin set), and 2 CANADA shoulder badges.
I would like a pair of corduroy trousers (brown) waist 30, length 33, warm pullover, with sleeves; shirts blue or brown flannel. I think you are allowed to pack some chocolate with clothes, ¼ lb blocks best. Please see Charlinch Trust re insurance. They allowed it to lapse. I feel that they must be liable for full value of policy. We are allowed all the letters you write but keep off any subject liable to censor, use Air-Mail, average time 4 weeks. We are allowed book parcels sent by accredited firms, Eatons might have London arrangements Biography and good fiction for me. There are eight of us here but we are all in same room, and some others I don’t know are in hospital. You must all keep happy and not worry too much about me. I had luck with me on 19 Aug and I will be ok, but we are so useless here. We read, play cards, and some study classes beginning, which I will attend. I am thinking about you always.

All my love ‘til we’re together again – John.


30 Nov. ‘43

Dear Mother and Dad,

I have quite a lot to write about this time and I’m sorry if it seems rather condensed. The “fettering” which took place on about 6 Oct. ’42 as a result of an order in our Dieppe raid ceased on 22 Nov 43 after period of 13 months. Last week the whole, in groups of 400 on parole, visited the local theatre. The picture was of musical variety and had English captions under enough pictures so that the story could be followed. I enjoyed the morning out of camp very much. My 5th parcel arrived during week and everything was fine, but please tooth-powder in paper as the top opens sometimes. You ask for a few suggestions, well I’m sorry that I turned down the warm gown. I always need a shirt, pajamas, light underwear, as the laundry is hard on these things. Toilet articles as a good nail file, comb, blades, shaving soap, etc. I’m looking forward to the blanket, which be here in a few weeks. Had letters from Aunt Edith and Flo please thank them. I should have mentioned above don’t worry about food in parcels except coffee, tea and sugar and perhaps some curry powders. You all seem to be working very hard and Mother try not to get overtired too much. I hope Jane is enjoying University. It is too bad few classes are so early in the morning. I am thinking of you all the time. It will be a great day when we are all together again. Tons of love to you all.

Your son,

John

Image of a letter
An image of a letter that John Housser wrote home.

12 June ‘44

Dear Mother and Dad,

Last week brought the news of the invasion which we have all been early waiting for and I know that our chances of returning home soon have been greatly increased. We have all hope that some of the things we learned at Dieppe have become fruit and are of assistance. Last week I had a letter from Jud Ney dated 21 Sept 1942. He has probably thought me very rude in not answering. Anyways, I sent him a card last week. Yesterday I had 5 letters from you Jane up to 14 May. This is 5 weeks later than any from England, but of course I can understand the hold up there now. I’m glad Jane had such a great visit with John. I do hope I get home in time, but I’ve given my opinion and which them the best of everything. I do hope Dad has a great holiday at the club, and I do think I’ll be with him next season. Nothing could please me more, as I feel that Dad and I will be more “pals” when I return than we were before. I’m sure many of our friends will be very worried just now, but we must hope that everything will come to a speedy conclusion, as you can imagine we here are also on “pins and needles.” I have been taking lots of exercise and feel very fit. Tons of love to you all. I think of you constantly.

Your son,

John

Image of a letter
An image of a letter that John Housser wrote home.

Boxing Day 1944

Dear Mother and Dad,

Another Christmas passed and I know you will be most interested in how we passed the day here. On Xmas Eve I received three letters, one from each of you and one from Jane. It was great to have and I was so glad Jane had my present. Our weather the last few days has been perfect; very cold, everything covered with frost and a bright sun making everything glitter like a picture. Due to a new German order, we cannot save large food reserves. This reflected itself in our Xmas menu which was complete from breakfast to dinner, including, puddings, pies, and a large cake. Have no fear we did ourselves well and enjoyed every minute of it. I went to 8 am communion service and thought of you then. I was able to get in another picture and saw proof of it today. It is very good and I am in front row to please you. I hope to have a cap to send you soon. You were in my thoughts all day yesterday. I hope that Jane was able to be with you. I feel sure that we will all be there next year. Nothing could make me happier. You always make it such a wonderful day for me. We are all well, and hope for some skating soon. My best to everyone but tons and tons of love to yourselves.

Your son,

John


Here are a few other letters:

From Mrs. Helen Bergey regarding Sapper Oliver Loraine Bergey

An example of a mother writing to find out the status of her son.  Many relatives held out hope of survival, or whether they had become a prisoner, when they received telegraphs notifying them of death or being missing in action.

Image of a letter written by Bergey
Letter from Mrs. Helen Bergey. Credit: Archives Ontario.

Toronto March 5th/ 43

Dear Sir,

I am answering to the report of my son Oliver Bergey B25432 being killed at Dieppe. I am sending you a clipping with some of the prisoners that were taken at that time. I think the one with the cross on the bottom is him. Will you try and find out to make sure, as I am sure that one is him, and everyone else does. Please do that much for me, as I have three others besides him in active service and I would like to let them know about Oliver, as they keep writing for word of him.

Yours truly,

Mrs. Helen Bergey


From Ms. Sabine Schiner-Wagner, a German woman to Private Harry Kirk Young

Image of a letter
Young letter from Sabine Schiner-Wagner. Credit: Archives Ontario.

Sabine Schiner-Wagner

Berlin, February 1st, 1946

There are all over the world human beings waiting for everlasting peace, suffering from old so called natural laws, laws with are sad, earnest and inconceivable.

But – ‘til now – wars were inevitable. Friend and enemy had to face that reality. Friend and enemy? Who is my enemy? I have to know an enemy? I do not know you. I only understand that you lost somebody you loved. It is the most heave blow an individual can befall.

I am a German woman. Thousands of bombs missed me in Berlin. Around my neck, I had in a little bag always some keepsakes and – the last few papers your boy had in his pocket when he was killed in action. These papers once were brought to Berlin by German soldiers. I kept them as remembrances for you.

Now I have the possibility to send off what I saved. It will not help you to overcome the sorrow, but I wish to let you know that somebody is now going on account of your misfortune to fight more than ever against wars.

Faithfully yours,

Image of a Record from Lance Corporal Joseph Ryan
Ward Record from Lance Corporal Joseph Ryan. Credit: Archives Ontario.

Lance Corporal Joseph Ryan to the father of Roland Edward Ward

Lance Corporal Ryan, a prisoner of war, wrote to the father of Roland Edward Ward who had died at Dieppe, on behalf of a fellow soldier who survived

TO:

Mr. J.E. Ward
Toronto, ON
13.2.43

“ROLLY was working with me for that operation and we both landed together. As we landed we ran side by side up the beach until we met very heavy fire and all dropped. When the order to continue on was given, ROLLY was among those who didn’t move. I thought he missed the order and gave him a pull, but he was hit, so I could do nothing. At the conclusion of the battle, sometime later, as we were being marched along the beach I stopped and rolled him over and saw what actually had happened. He had been hit in the chest as he was dropping. I don’t think he ever felt it, being so quick. I took off his watch and I still have it with me to take to his wife as he asked me before the raid. That’s all I can write, but if I get out O.K. myself I will certainly let you know the full story….”

This 80th Commemoration of Dieppe has been made possible by the hard work and research of many.

The City of Toronto would like to thank the following for their contributions:

  • Patrick Cain, Data Journalist and creator of “Grief’s Geography” for Global News
  • Joyce Crook, former Recording Secretary of the East York Historical Society
  • John Donald
  • Ken Holmes, Historian, Canadian Military Engineers
  • John Michell
  • Douglas Olver
  • Jayne Poolton-Turvey, daughter of Private Jack Poolton, creator of Dieppe Blue Beach – Every Man Remembered www.dieppebluebeach.ca
  • Dayna Smockum, researcher
  • Tim J Stewart, Curator, Piper, Historian, The Toronto Scottish Regiment
  • Doug Surphlis
  • Rick Towey, Director/Curator, Museum of the Royal Regiment of Canada

These organizations:

  • Canadian Armed Forces
  • Canada Virtual War Memorial – Picture Me Project
  • East York Foundation
  • Royal Canadian Legion, District D

Image of the Mitacs logoImage of the ecampus logo

The research and analysis for this project was funded in part by the Mitacs Business Strategy Internship Program and eCampus Ontario.

Image of the Government of Canada logo

This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada thorough Veterans Affairs Canada Commemorative Partnership Program

Important note:

A significant effort has been made to find the most accurate information and resources during the research for this project, however, due to the nature of some historical records, we recognize that there could be additional information and data which may later become available.

There are countless stories to be told about the Dieppe Raid and this display represents just a few of them.

We welcome additional information about Torontonians at Dieppe and comments at protocol@toronto.ca 

The City of Toronto remembers all of the brave soldiers who fought for our peace and freedom and would like to thank them, their families and their friends for their sacrifice.

Lest We Forget