“We landed at 5:25 AM by my watch which I glanced at as the ramp went down, and as we raced up the beach, I remember thinking; how was it possible to surprise an enemy in broad daylight? Lance Corporal Johnny Crow was ahead of me and a little to the left as we jumped clear of some low barbed wire, and then directly in front of us was a wall with barbed wire entanglements on top. I saw Lance Corporal Crow thrust a Bangalore torpedo under the barb wire on the top of the wall and then drop back to wait for the explosion but the Bangalore failed to explode.
I made my way to the sight of the wall where the sea had swept a convenient incline of shale which I climbed. Glancing to the left I saw Johnny had climbed the wall in an attempt to find out why the Bangalore had not exploded when his head and shoulders were above the wall, he was thrown back as if he had been kicked and he fell on to the beach, shot through the chest.
Something clattered on my helmet and again I dropped back. After a time there was a shout from some of the men, “The Germans are going to attack with bayonets, everybody fix bayonets!” I glanced over the top and shouted back to them, “There is nobody there, you can unfix your bayonets.” Where this panic idea came from I will never know.
(Later on as a POW)
The blind fold was immediately taken off and I was looking into the light of a torch held by a young looking German in uniform who spoke perfect English, and the questions came thick and fast. “What is your name?” “Mavin.” I said. “Your rank and Regiment?” “B37485 Private” “How many men were on this raid?” I shook my head. “When is the next raid taking place?” “I don’t know” I said. “Come now, we know this raid was only a feint and the big invasion is coming this morning. Where?” I shook my head. By his question I knew it was in the early morning hours of the 20th of August.
I became bold and said to him, I am only allowed to give you my regiment number, rank and name. He nodded, but he became surly. His parting shot was, “We knew you were coming you know. We knew some weeks ago.”
-Pte. Wilfred Mavin. Royal Hamilton Light Infantry. Dieppe Raid, 1942.
This story was documented by Battles and Beers. Every soldier has a story, and every story deserves to be told.
This story is part of a MUCH longer one, and it can be found in my book, “What War Did To Us” now on Amazon!