Operation Fusilade

'Fusilade' was the Canadian seizure of Dieppe by Major General C. Foulkes’s 2nd Division of Lieutenant General G. G. Simonds’s II Corps in General H. D. G. Crerar’s 1st Army (1 September 1944).

The 8th Reconnaissance Regiment reached the outskirts of Dieppe early in the morning of 1 September, and discovered that the German rearguard parties had left the town during the previous day despite the fact that Adolf Hitler had declared the port to be one of the French coastal Festungen (fortresses) that were to be held to the last man. The local commander had ordered the evacuation of the German forces before receiving Hitler’s order, however.

The information that the Germans had departed was passed back to higher echelons with all possible speed, and this allowed the cancellation, with only 20 minutes to spare, of the planned attack by Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris’s RAF Bomber Command which was to have preceded the 2nd Division’s assault on the town. In the course of the day the main strength of the 2nd Division reached the town to general French jubilation.

The Germans had not succeeded in the complete destruction of the port installations, and British engineers immediately set to work to prepare the harbour to receive shipping carrying the supplies so urgently needed by the advancing Allied divisions. The first vessels entered on 7 September, the first train loaded with petrol and oil departed for Brussels two days later, and by the end of the month the port’s daily capacity was between 6,000 and 7,000 tons. Dieppe was therefore able to supply about one quarter of tonnage of supplies needed by General Sir Bernard Montgomery’s Allied 21st Army Group.

The neighbouring fishing port of Le Tréport was also taken on 1 September, in this instance by Major General D. C. Spry’s Canadian 3rd Division.