In August 1942, a combined operation was mounted against Hitler’s Fortress Europe. Its scope was limited, its aims ill-defined. So why did Churchill agree to the raid on Dieppe, which led to such embarrassing failure?

Troops undergo a final training exercise prior to the Dieppe Raid.

The early months of 1942 were difficult ones for Winston Churchill. Stalin was demanding action in Western Europe to lessen the pressure of the 280 German divisions that were bearing down upon Stalingrad. Roosevelt was insisting that US soldiers must start fighting the Germans in Europe, and Mackenzie King, the Canadian Prime Minister, desperately needed Canadian troops to become involved in the war to keep his politically divided nation together. The problem for Churchill was that a second front in Europe, at this time, which his allies demanded, was premature and impracticable.

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