Now home to around 30,500,the picturesque port of Dieppe on the Normandy coast of France was once the site of what’s perhaps the most conflicting military operation of WWII.
Some hail it as an essential lesson, to help future troops and pave the way for victory on D-Day. Whilst others see it as the most ill-fated and disastrous military effort of The War.
A test of Hitler’s “Fortress Europe”
The year is 1942, and on the morning of 19th August, alongside 1,000 British troops and 50 American Rangers, 5,000 Canadian troops began their assault on the small French port town of Dieppe. This was Canada’s first army offensive in Europe, and the results left many thinking it could well be their last.
Ultimately, the raid was strategically designed to test the Allies’ ability to launch amphibious assaults against Adolf Hitler’s “Fortress Europe”. This would inform future plans to bring about an end to the conflict.
The co-ordinated air, land and sea assault was codenamed Operation Jubilee. Allied forces landed on the shores of Dieppe with the intention of occupying the town for a brief period of time in which they would gain intelligence and entice the Luftwaffe – German Air Force – in to open battle to wear them down.
But from the beginning, nothing went as planned. Less than six hours in the commanders called a retreat.
The troops arriving via the sea unexpectedly encountered a German fleet, and the ensuing battle at sea robbed the Allies of their element of surprise. This was what they were hoping would give them the upper hand. Out of the four beaches targeted, none of the attacks were classed as successful, resulting in severe loss of life and assets. With the element of surprise lost, the Allies and their armoured support were late to arrive at their designated attack points meaning many were slaughtered with little preparation to defend themselves.
The Calgary Tanks that did make it ashore were poorly equipped for the terrain and struggled to move across the pebbled beaches. Those that did make it across the beach were unable to destroy the enemy’s concrete barriers blocking their path, their guns were not strong enough. Eventually these tanks provided covering fire for the force’s evacuation.
German casualties were light. In comparison the Allies suffered, especially the Canadians: over 900 were killed, 2,400 wounded and a further 1,900 taken prisoner. Fewer than half the Canadians who departed for Dieppe returned.
Allied commanders knew the raid was risky. But none imagined it would be such a terrible failure, with so much loss of life. It was believed the element of surprise would be their greatest weapon, allowing landing troops to overcome German defenders and occupy the town. But little thought was given to the importance of air superiority and the need for overwhelming firepower.
Despite its failure, the raid was a pivotal moment in WWII and provided invaluable lessons for the Allies. It made clear the difficulties of assaulting a well-defended port and the need for better intelligence on conditions and communication amongst the troops – they could not rely solely on the element of surprise.
Two years later, the D-Day landings would be backed up by massive naval artillery support, dominance over the skies, and heavy firepower — three essential factors missing at Dieppe. Finally, following D-Day success, on 1st September 1944, Dieppe was liberated.
If you’re interested…
The Royal Canadian Mint issued a 1oz Silver Proof coin to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Dieppe raid. It’s been specially designed as a powerful tribute to the brave soldiers who sacrificed their lives.
Unsurprisingly this coin is completely sold out at the mint. But we have a limited number available for UK collectors.
When I first heard the story behind the 1955 4 Paisa coins I could hardly believe it. They’re genuinely some of the most incredible coins I’ve ever seen.
The Nepalese 4-Paisa coin was minted from spent brass World War II rifle bullet casings left by the famous Gurkha soldiers.
This is the fascinating story behind their minting…
The story of these coins originates from the battlefields of Asia. After the war in the East was over, a General in the Nepalese army discovered a number of empty cartridge cases that had been stored in a government unit behind Tangal Palace in Kathmandu.
These used rifle cartridges came from Gurkha and Nepalese soldiers fighting for the Allies on the Assam and Burma fronts where they had valiantly battled the Japanese. Although it is not clear by whom or for what purpose the used cartridges had been collected from the WWII battlefields, it seems that they had been forgotten and left to rust.
It’s incredible that these pieces of history could simply be forgotten, so the General decided to find a way of paying tribute to the soldiers who had left them behind.
It just so happened that the General who discovered these casings was related to the head of the Government Mint in Nepal. The General suggested to the Mint that these used cartridges should be struck into coins as a way of paying homage to the Gurkha soldiers.
So, in 1955 the 4 Paisa coin was duly minted from these very cartridge shells which had once been in the middle of the intense fighting of WWII. They now stand as a lasting tribute to the brave Gurkha regiment that fought so valiantly for the Allies.
And what’s more, they also hold huge significance as a numismatic collector’s piece. As the number of empty shells was extremely limited, these incredible coins were issued for just one-year-only before the supply was completely exhausted.
The story behind these coins is incredible – not only were they struck from genuine bullet shells, but were also minted to pay tribute to one of the most highly respected fighting forces in the world.
If you’re interested…
Today you have the chance to own one of these Gurkha Bullet coins for JUST £24.99 (+p&p). Act now to secure this incredible piece of history for your collection!