Canadians and Veterans Remember the Battle of Dieppe 70 years later

Kelowna Navy Veteran remembers his role during the war

8/19/2012

A large crowd of dignitaries, veterans and residents of Dieppe gathered today to remember a terrible allied defeat 70 years ago that saw roughly 900 Canadian Troops killed and more than 2,500 others wounded or captured.

On hand for the Ceremonies were His Excellency, The Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, and the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs.

"Today, communities across our country and in France will pay tribute to the brave Canadians who landed on the beaches of Dieppe 70 years ago," said Minister Blaney. "Our mission is to ensure that their sacrifices are never forgotten. Our Government will ensure that the torch of remembrance is passed on to our younger generations."

Kelowna resident and War Veteran, Al Birchard, wasn't old enough for Dieppe, but served three and a half years during the war with the Royal Canadian Navy.

"We were escorting battle wagons, the big fellahs that would sit there and fire shells inland against the Germans.  We'd seen some things that you'll never forget, we had a few burials at sea but for the most part we (Canadians) were well received," says Birchard.

When asked why Canadians should remember the War and key battles, Birchard says,"Freedom, that's about all you can say, freedom.  We can do what we want, but it's a job you have to do, we've all got somebody that we left behind."

More than 5,000 Canadian Soldiers took part in the raid on Dieppe on August 19th, 1942.

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