Raid on dieppe

Discussion in 'Books, Films, TV, Radio' started by Our bill, May 23, 2014.

  1. Our bill

    Our bill Well-Known Member

    I am trying to find the title of a book written by an officer who was there- the commando raid on Dieppe . Also (a long shot l know) does anyone have any information on the sinking of a ship full of Americans Canadians and British commando's by a U Boat and this happened before the Americans came into the war . Needle in a haystack comes to mind but l have to ask . Thanks Elsie
  2. No.4CommandoBairn

    No.4CommandoBairn Well-Known Member

    I have quite a few books that mention Dieppe - would it be James Dunning's The Fighting Fourth you're looking for?

    Just having a look at another one, Commando - Brig. John Durnford-Slater.

    I'll ask on the CV Forum about your other question.
  3. No.4CommandoBairn

    No.4CommandoBairn Well-Known Member

    You're not thinking about Slapton Sands, are you?
  4. Our bill

    Our bill Well-Known Member

    No 4 Commando Bairn,Thank you for replying . our dad, which I have researched , uncle jack and uncle dick lI have applied for the service records. But because of what my brother tells me I am impatient to know more,
    Uncle Dick - Richard McConkey known as Mac in the army was in the commando's and is mentioned in a book written by someone who went through the war with him. My brother has read the book lent to him by uncle dick .Uncle Dick went to all reunions on the Isle of Wight until his health went. During the early days a ship uncle Dick was on along with many Americans and Canadians got torpedoed and Uncle Dick was in the water several hours . Knowing me I will buy the books you recommend as I know I shall enjoy reading them Elsie
  5. Our bill

    Our bill Well-Known Member

    I have just purchased the books
  6. No.4CommandoBairn

    No.4CommandoBairn Well-Known Member

    I'm so sorry to hear about your brother, please pass on my regards. I, too, would love to learn more about your Uncle Dick and will, again, ask over on the Commando Veterans Forum ... a marvellous site to learn more.

    The Green Beret by Hilary St George Saunders and my dad's favourite, Swiftly They Struck by Murdoch McDougall are great books too. I didn't mention Swiftly as, I think, that starts after Dieppe and concentrates on Normandy and later.

    There were two ships mentioned by someone over on the site, but they were attacked by aircraft.
  7. Our bill

    Our bill Well-Known Member

    No4 CommandoBairn, thank you for showing interest , research is always easier when you have the support of others . Will get those books too Elsie
  8. Guy Hudson

    Guy Hudson Looker-upper

    Richard McConkey was 40 RM Commando. After being unable to achieve their objective they landed on White beach. He swam off the beach and was picked up by HMS Brocklesby.

    Alan Saunders tells his and your Uncle's story:
    “When we got there it was apparent that no way had they broken through. The beaches were very heavy shingle with an angle of 10 or 15 degrees that tanks were expected to clamour across and up. As the German defences were on the higher ground it was a turkey shoot. They were just popping them [the attacking Forces] off left, right and centre. There was nothing we could do. We were only ashore for five or 10 minutes at the most before the order came from the CO, Lieutenant Colonel Picton-Phillips RM to withdraw as he could see the impossibility of any advance. He put on a pair of white gloves and stood on the highest possible place on his landing craft and semaphored to the troops on the beach to withdraw. Well of course up high like that with white gloves he was an ideal shot and he was knocked down almost immediately, along with the adjutant and one or two others.

    “My little group did get off the beach and back onto the landing craft, but we only got about 200 yards from the beach before it was shot up. I say the beach, but you couldn’t see the beach as there were bodies, body parts, blown up bits of this and blown up bits of that and all the detritus and chaos and carnage of war there. Blokes were crying for help and at the time you just got on with it, you don’t think ‘Oh God I can’t do that’. You just got on with it.
    “The landing craft got shot up and it was over the side to swim for it. God help us. Some of the lads headed back to the shore and we told them not be bloody fools, ‘You’ll either get shot as soon as you put a foot onshore or you’ll end up in the cage’.

    “My mates and I decided to attempt to swim to Portsmouth. Believe it or not it was a super day, the Channel was like a millpond and the sun was shining. Well it was a super day once you got that 200 or 300 yards away from the beach and away from all the carnage there. We were told during our briefing that there would be two Hunt class destroyers on survivor patrol until last light. Guys were doing whatever they could to be picked up. Some of my mates got picked up by a Royal Marine rocket ship.

    “We divested ourselves of our kit to swim back, which on reflection was very bad but we wouldn’t have made it in full kit. We did have a very primitive form of life belt. There was one guy, Willy McKnight, he was old, he must have been 28 or 29, and he said ‘I cannae swim, I cannae swim!’ And one of my mates said ‘Of course you can Willy, come on you silly old bugger what’s wrong with you!’ There was all this stuff floating around that included a bamboo scaling ladder and some empty smoke floats. We lashed a smoke float under each end and stuck Willy on it and Conkey said ‘Paddle this way. If it gets you back to Pompey, Willy you owe me a quid!’ He did get back and Conkey did get his quid!

    “We set off and we swam for about half an hour. We just plodded away, then stopped to tread water for five minutes, massage our legs and then we set off again. All in all I suppose we swam for three and a half or four hours. While I swam off Dieppe I thought of Janet, a WAAF I’d met while on leave after the first assault was cancelled and thought I have to see that WAAF or she’ll think: ‘Oh another blooming Marine. They’ll all the same!’ I kept thinking that I had to get back to meet her and I did. We met up and we were married on 11th November 1942. I’d been through all that drama and trauma of Dieppe and the shelling down at St Margaret’s was quite dramatic at times, but to get married I had to get my mother’s permission as I was under 21!”

    Alan and the others saw a destroyer, the Brocklesbury, and shouted and waved until it saw them. The destroyer came over and lowered scrambling nets, which they climbed and there were many hands to help them get onboard. But they weren’t to head straight home as the crew had to continue its patrol for further survivors until last light.

    Alan continued: “By this time I suppose it was about 1600 or 1700, something like that. There was nothing for the Germans to shoot at so they just shot at the two Hunt Class destroyers. Every now and again she’d get stuck on a sand bar and lose an engine. Anyway we eventually set off for Pompey. It took six hours to get across as at one stage she lost both engines.

    “In Portsmouth the first reception point was onboard HMS Victory, Nelson’s old vessel, and from there we were taken by lorry to a naval camp at Havant. I got separated from my little group of Royal Marines and ended up in a Canadian reception area where a big enamel mug of rum was thrust into my hand. Eventually I did catch up with my lot and I got bedded down. Next morning at about 0800 I was shaken awake by a Chief Petty Officer. ‘Come on Royal, here’s a towel, here’s a bar of soap. Go down to the ablutions and come and have some breakfast.’ I thought it was something when the Chief came round to give you a shake.”

    With his group of six Alan made his return to the Isle of Wight on a paddle steamer from Portsmouth Harbour to Ryde Pier Head. The journey took about 1½ hours as the seas were littered with mines.

    HMS Berkeley may be the other ship that you refer to. That was bombed and eventually sunk during the raid.

    4jonboy likes this.
  9. Our bill

    Our bill Well-Known Member

    Guy OMG how did you manage that Thankyou so very much I can not thank you enough Elsie

    Attached Files:

  10. Our bill

    Our bill Well-Known Member

    Guy what is the book called that you got this from I need to get it . My brother said I would never find it now thanks to you I can buy two and give one to him , he will be so pleased although he will never get to read it but I honestly don't think you realise what you have help me achieve . 4 CommandoBairn.
    Thankyou for your help too I shall enjoy the books you recommended .
    I have put a photo of uncle dick on here and as usual I did it wrong after numerous lessons on how to I still do the photo's wrong never mind it would not be me if I was perfect kindest regards Elsie
  11. No.4CommandoBairn

    No.4CommandoBairn Well-Known Member

    I've read what Guy posted so may well have the book. A friend's father, Ernest Woodcock, was also in 40 RM.

    The books I mentioned were about No.4 Commando. A darned good read, too. ;)
  12. Our bill

    Our bill Well-Known Member

    Thank you No4 commando Bairn I am looking forward to the arrival of all 4 books you recommended ,was able to order them all from Amazon . Just from your replies I have 4 good reads on their way and I went on that site you mentioned and have spent most of the afternoon looking at all the photos and reading and learning all about the commando's so my afternoon reading has given me a taster of what's to come in the books. I do hope you can find the book then I can add that to my collection .thank you for taking the time to reply and I look forward to chatting more when I have read the books and have questions to be answered. Kind regards Elsie
  13. No.4CommandoBairn

    No.4CommandoBairn Well-Known Member

    Type Dieppe - 40 Commando in Google. Now I know where I read it. :)

    I'm fascinated by all things Commando - not just No.4

    40 RM is on Facebook but appears to be a closed group.
  14. Our bill

    Our bill Well-Known Member

    Thanks No4commandBairn will go and have a google later my eyes are tired after all that reading on that site you mentioned elsie
  15. Our bill

    Our bill Well-Known Member

    Just a big Thankyou to you both for helping me find the book. 2 of the books have arrived and will make great reading material to pass the time away at hospital as husband , our Val and out Trev are all in at the moment . They say it comes in 3's but this is too much ., my books will keep me sane . The book I have started reading Jock of 40 Royal Marine Commando served with Uncle Dick from training through the thick of it and Uncle Dick is mentioned often so you see your help has helped me a great deal . There is even a great photo of my Uncle Dick and his mates at Augusta. Thank you Elsie
  16. canuck

    canuck Closed Account

    Dieppe: Tragedy to Triumph is a good read.

    Written by Denis Whitaker, who was a lieutenant with the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry at the time of the raid and possibly to only officer who actually made it into the town during the battle. Whitaker went on to command the RHLI later in the war.
  17. Our bill

    Our bill Well-Known Member

    Thanks Canuck will go and find it out to add to my collection. Elsie
  18. canuck

    canuck Closed Account

    One of them was Williamson. Here's how he remembered the day, in an excerpt from the 1992 book, Dieppe: Tragedy to Triumph, by retired Brigadier General Denis Whitaker, who was a platoon commander on that fateful raid:

    "Being so green, we had loaded ourselves down with so much ammunition we could hardly walk: besides tommy gun ammo, I had a couple of hand grenades and two mortar bombs," Williamson begins.

    "When the craft hit the beach, I stepped off and fell flat on my face in the bloody water. I struggled to get up, but with all this ammunition, as well as my battledress and heavy, hobnailed boots, I was weighted down. If we had to cover any distance, I would have serious problems.
    Tracers started coming at us even before we got to shore. We said, what the hell goes on? This wasn't supposed to happen. Then I was hit. Soon there was only one man left in our platoon who was not killed or wounded."

    Here's the way Hamilton Spectator reporter James Elliott described Williamson's plight in a Remembrance Day story written in 1999
    "Soaking wet, he'd cut through the barbed wire to squirm to the seawall, the only cover from the withering German fire. He'd been trying to find some morphine for a wounded mate when a shell exploded right behind him, fragments tearing up his right buttock, piercing his rectum and small intestine.
    ... Struggling back into the sea, he lost his bandage on the barbed wire, and managed to reach an infantry landing craft before passing out, and stayed that way until unloaded dockside back in England.
    "Doctors reckoned the salt water saved his life, acting as a disinfectant to clean the wound. He lost about eight feet of small intestine, taken out because it was riddled with holes."

    The striking photo that accompanies this story was taken for that Remembrance Day story in late October of 1999 by Scott Gardner. It captures the indomitable spirit of John Williamson, then 77.
  19. Our bill

    Our bill Well-Known Member

    Thanks Canuck you have really helped me with my research and the book is on it's way.Elsie
  20. Our bill

    Our bill Well-Known Member

    No 4 commando Bairn - hello Eileen just wanted to thank you again as the commando vet site have been of great help Uncle Dick was a member and have put my photo's I submitted on the site .and have given me his service number and lots more. Uncle Dick was one of the originals when 40 RM Commando was formed and was with them at the end when they were disbanded . As the service records don't contain a lot your tip has paid off fantastic . Once again Thankyou Elsie

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