Monday, August 20, 2012
Dieppe and the Lost Myth
It was good to see that some of the soldiers who took part in the Dieppe Raid were able to make it back to that bloody beach today.
And that so many people in the town turned out to greet them like heroes.
I'm also glad that we may finally know the main reason for the raid.
In a new documentary, Dieppe Uncovered, airing Sunday and Monday on History Television, and forthcoming book titled Dieppe Decoded, he argues that the mission was designed solely to provide cover for 15 to 20 ultra-secret commandos. That unit, pulled together specifically for Dieppe, had their eye on Hotel Moderne, where they hoped to snatch documents, books, even the infamous Enigma machine -- anything that would help crack the Germans’ revamped coding system.
Although it really doesn't change anything. It was a military catastrophe from beginning to end.
And what makes it even sadder for me is that we have been unable to rescue anything from the rubble of that blood soaked day. Not even a myth that could help bind us together.
For in the history of English and French Canada it was a special moment. The first time they fought and died together in the Second World War, the one that really made us a nation.
For who could tell one from the other that day?
And then there's what happened afterwards, when the Vichy Regime tried to drive a wedge between the French and English Canadian prisoners. And failed.
They had gallows in there and it had this smell, this is where the Vichy French Government tried to split the French Canadians and the English Canadians, you know, they done it a way back then. And they were giving out cigarettes and biscuits and cakes to the French fellas, the French speaking guys. And so they asked an officer, the officers were still with us, that’s where they took the officers away. And the French Canadian officer said, “Yes, accept the offering but split it with the Anglophones.”
The German’s told the French Canadians that they shouldn’t be fighting because France wasn’t at war and an officer said, “Listen, we are all Canadians, we are all Canadians and Canada’s at war with Germany.” And that was what was said and I heard it said, see.
And when the Germans chained the prisoners, and offered to spare the ones from Quebec, they refused and marched in chains with their fellow Canadians all the way to Germany.
In any other country this story would have been made into a myth. The boys from Canada, who would not let the Vichy traitors divide them. Who were killed by the Nazis, and screwed by the British.
The Dieppe story made instant headlines worldwide. Unfortunately, the British Army's press services did not mention the part played by the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division. It was several weeks before Canadian public opinion realized what a failure Operation Jubilee had been, and how many of its own had died in action.
In America they would have made movies about it. But not here.
Where these days you can't read a story about anything that happens in Quebec, without reading disgusting comments insulting Quebecers and demanding they leave Canada.
For what we would not allow others to do to us, we would do to ourselves.
You know, as someone who lives with a French Canadian, or a Québécois, I rather like what Hugh MacLennan once wrote:
Love consists in this, that two solitudes protect, and touch and greet each other.
But Dieppe was that and more written in blood. Remember that lost myth.
Don't let the Quebec haters destroy this country...
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