DIEPPE ~ BLUE BEACH
EVERY MAN REMEMBERED
THE ROYAL REGIMENT OF CANADA
What had happened on Blue Beach was horrendous. There was no way to escape the inevitable. The Germans were on three sides, the English Channel, on the other. If the men continued to resist, it would only mean more bloodshed. Some of the wounded were drowning as the tide was coming in. Reluctantly, the Royals surrendered. 272 soldiers from the Royal Regiment and several others from the Black Watch and the Royal Canadian Artillery, became prisoners of war. The seriously wounded prisoners were taken off the beach to various locations, including a hospital at Rouen. However, those who had been wounded, but were still able to walk, were lined up with the rest of the POWs. They were loaded into train box cars for a five day journey, with little food and water, to a train platform in Germany near Lamsdorf. The camp was known as Stalag VIIIB, and this would become “home” to the Dieppe POWs for the next few years. Life was harsh, cold and boring. There were lice, bed bugs and rats. Food was nearly non-existent. They survived on turnip or cabbage soup, a small slice of black bread and the only meat available would sometimes come from the head of a horse. Many months later, the Red Cross would start sending parcels of food and clothing, which was really what kept these men alive. On October 8, 1942, the Germans tied the Dieppe prisoners with ropes in retaliation for a British order at Dieppe, that German prisoners’ hands be bound. After a few months, the ropes were causing sores on the men’s wrists, so shackles were brought in, put on in the morning and taken off at night. This continued until December 2, 1943, a total of 410 days. The Canadians dug an escape tunnel under one of the huts during the chain up, however the tunnel was discovered and sealed up with concrete before anyone could escape from it.
On January 25, 1944, most of the Dieppe prisoners were moved to Stalag IID (Stargard). Many of the prisoners were forced to work in mines, cutting wood, on farms and other labour intensive jobs. In January of 1945, the Dieppe prisoners, although in different camps, were all forced out of the camps on what was to be known as Death Marches. Some marches were as long as 1500 kilometers. This took place during the winter, when the temperatures were below zero and there was snow on the ground. Many men slept outside and had to forage for food in ditches and barn yards. Liberation came about four months later, in most cases, when advancing American and Soviet troops drove the German soldiers away and gave the men back their freedom.
Many of these men, spent months in hospital in England before returning home to Canada. Several died from diseases shortly after their return home, that they had contracted from the camps.