Commemorating the Dieppe Raid

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Bodies of Canadian soldiers at the Dieppe Raid.

Since November includes Remembrance Day (November 11th) I always like to see some commemorative content in the November issue of Leaside Life.

This year I have chosen to highlight the 80th anniversary commemorative events on August 19 for the Dieppe Raid in 1942 that occurred at the Old City Hall Cenotaph and later that day at Dieppe Park in East York. 

On August 19, 1942, more than 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 5,000 of these soldiers were young Canadian men. Of the Canadians who embarked on the raid, nearly 4,000 were killed, wounded or taken prisoner. Of the 1,000 soldiers who returned to England, 600 of them were wounded.

Dieppe was a pivotal lesson for the Allied nations and would be useful in D-Day preparations that would turn the tide in World War II two years later, in 1944. But it came at a steep price for Canada and many Torontonians.

Dieppe resulted in the highest number of Canadian casualties in a single day during World War II, and the impact of this day was keenly felt in Toronto. More than 200 soldiers, or one-quarter of the 807 Canadians who died that day, had links to Toronto. On January 11, 1943, East York Township Council designated a site on Cosburn Avenue as Dieppe Park to honour the brave soldiers who fought and died for our country.

On August 19, 2022, the City of Toronto held two ceremonies to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Dieppe Raid. In the morning, at a ceremony held at the Old City Hall cenotaph the mayor of Toronto and other representatives lay wreaths to honour Canadian soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice at Dieppe on August 19, 1942.

The evening commemoration at Dieppe Park in East York brought together family members who shared stories of relatives from Toronto who were killed in action, taken prisoner of war, contributed on the home front, and those who returned home as veterans. Poppies were placed below an exhibit to represent the 209 Torontonians who never returned home. Before this ceremony, the Royal Canadian Legion held a wreath-laying ceremony at the East York Civic Centre Cenotaph followed by a march to Dieppe Park.

The ceremony included the unveiling of commemorative panels which were on temporary display at Dieppe Park but will again be on display at Toronto City Hall – Rotunda from November 4–11, 2022.

How does this relate to Leaside today? Alan Redway, former Mayor of East York and former Member of Parliament, Leaside resident and long-time Leaside Life contributor, championed the event locally, and was instrumental in linking the City and the East York Foundation (Chair, Ray White) with the East York branches of the Royal Canadian Legion to support the Dieppe Park commemorative events on August 19. Thank you!

 

About Geoff Kettel 194 Articles
Geoff Kettel is a community connector and advocate for “making places better”. He is currently Co-President of the Leaside Residents Association, Co-Chair of the Federation of North Toronto Residents‘ Associations (FoNTRA), member of the Toronto Preservation Board and Past Chair of the North York Community Preservation Panel. He writes a monthly column on heritage and planning in Leaside Life.