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History Through Our Eyes: Aug. 25, 1985, remembering Dieppe

Ceremonies are held annually to commemorate the Dieppe Raid, a Second World War battle that began on Aug. 19, 1942 and was calamitous for the young Canadian soldiers who participated. This photo taken Aug. 25, 1985 by the Montreal Gazette’s Jean Pierre Rivest shows Georges Giguère, the bemedalled president of the Dieppe Veterans’ Association, about to lay a memorial wreath. According to the information on the back of the photo, he is escorted by Manon Lalonde of the Fusiliers de Mont-Royal, the same regiment with which Giguère served.

While the location is not given, this photo was probably taken in Longueuil, where a Dieppe monument was erected in 1971 in Place Charles LeMoyne opposite the Longueuil métro station. Prior to the erection of that monument, annual ceremonies were held in Dominion Square.

At the time of the Dieppe Raid, virtually all of continental Europe was occupied by the Nazis. The landing in Dieppe, in France, was an attempt by the Allies to gain a foothold on the continent. Canadians made up the bulk of the landing force. For various reasons, it was a horrible failure, but was said to have provided valuable lessons for the successful D-Day assault a couple years later. According to a Veterans Affairs Canada website , “Of the 4,963 Canadians who embarked for the operation, only 2,210 returned to England, and many of these were wounded. There were 3,367 casualties, including 1,946 prisoners of war; 916 Canadians lost their lives.”

Giguère was one of those prisoners of war. In the Sept. 16, 1942 edition of the Montreal Gazette, he was among the many whom we reported as missing. We wrote that he was a lance corporal who at the time of his enlistment had been a postal employee. He had originally joined a different regiment, but had switched to the Fusiliers de Mont-Royal in order to go overseas, we wrote.

He spent a total of 33 months in German prisoner of war camps, including 13 months in chains, we reported many years later.

Giguère died Dec. 20, 2001 at the age of 80.


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