Rangers at Dieppe: The First Combat Action of U.S. Army Rangers in World War II

Article excerpt

Varied Fare Rangers at Dieppe: The First Combat Action of U.S. Army Rangers in World War II. Jim DeFelice. Berkley Caliber. 300 pages; black-and-white photographs; index; $24.95.

Two years before the now famous World War II D-Day invasion, a small group of U.S. Army Rangers participated in an amphibious assault on the German-held French port of Dieppe. The raid, a combined CanadianBritish assault, included 50 Rangers who, despite the fact that their combat training was not yet complete, would be thrust into the crucible of the battle. It was a disaster.

Rangers at Dieppe by Jim DeFelice is the story of this little-known raid and the courageous men who fought and died on that hopeless mission, a remarkable saga of heroism under fire. Any close examination of the history of U.S. Army Rangers will reveal Dieppe in Ranger DNA.

Lord (Admiral) Louis Mountbatten, head of combined operations, set the tone as he addressed the assembled men on the eve of the raid. "Tomorrow we deal the Hun a bloody blow." He went on to say, "We expect over 60 percent casualties. To those of you that will die tomorrow, may God have mercy on your souls." His prediction was about right; his ability to inspire the troops, however, left something to be desired.

Poor planning, faulty intelligence, and lack of proper air cover and naval support, combined with just plain bad luck, conspired to ensure that the fight for Dieppe became a slaughter. Canadian losses were horrific. The casualty rate for the Canadian 2nd Division remains its greatest loss in Canadian military history. …