Poignant campaign brings Manitoba’s fallen soldiers ‘home’ from Dieppe
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It’s a heartbreaking return home after 80 years.
Postcards bearing the personal information of 22 young men whose short lives ended not long after they left to fight in the Second World War are landing in the mailboxes of the 22 Manitoba homes where they said goodbye to their loved ones.
The Juno Beach Centre, Canada’s Second World War museum and memorial in Normandy, France, sent postcards to the addresses of fallen soldiers from the Aug. 19, 1942, Dieppe Raid in a campaign called He Lived Where You Live last month. They have either been delivered or will be soon.
“These postcards create a personal connection between contemporary Canadians and the young heroes who perished during the ill-fated Dieppe Raid 80 years ago,” said Alex Fitzgerald-Black, executive director of the Juno Beach Centre Association.
“The Dieppe Raid occupies a large space in our collective memory of the Second World War, and we have a responsibility to remember that each soldier who participated had a unique personality, occupation, family and home. These postcards remind us that their legacies can be traced back to our own communities even today.”
The raid was Canada’s first major combat action in the war against Germany. In the first 10 hours of fighting, two-thirds of a force of 4,963 Canadians were wounded, captured or killed.
A total of 900 Canadians were killed in action or died of wounds, nearly 600 of whom are buried in the Dieppe Canadian War Cemetery in Hautot-sur-Mer, France.
Last year, the JBC compiled more than 800 service files of Canadian soldiers who died during the raid. After cross-referencing the home addresses in their files with Canada Post’s database of active addresses, 400 Canadian addresses of fallen servicemen were identified.
In July, each one of the addresses were mailed a postcard that shared the name and story of the soldier who lived there at the time of their enlistment.
Manitoba had the third most postcards mailed with 22, trailing Quebec (50) and Ontario (316).
“As the 80th anniversary of the Dieppe Raid approaches, fewer and fewer Canadians have a personal connection to inspire them to remember. By introducing them to soldiers who lived at their current address, we hope to create new connections that will foster remembrance for another 80 years and beyond,” Fitzgerald-Black said.
The Manitoba addresses were primarily in Winnipeg in the areas of Osborne, St. Boniface and the North and West Ends, the city’s oldest neighbourhoods.
In addition to the campaign, the JBC is commemorating the anniversary through a new temporary exhibition at the museum in France titled From Dieppe to Juno and have a digital exhibition and educational resource page — junobeach.org — titled Who Tells the Story of Dieppe?