August 19, 1946 (20th Parliament, 2nd Session)


John Bracken (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. JOHN BRACKEN (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, I am sure the thanks of the Canadian people from one side of the nation to the other will go out to the citizens of Dieppe for the tribute they are at this moment paying to the Canadian forces, particularly the forces which attempted to

find a way to get into the continent of Europe when it was so strongly held by the German forces. It was my privilege eighteen or twenty months ago to visit the site of that invasion. I remember very well walking through the streets of Dieppe, filled as they were with debris, and fenced off at nearly every comer by concrete barriers. I remember standing on the beaches and wondering how any man could come back alive after the fire that must have been showered upon them. I remember standing on the heights and looking down on those beaches where so many were killed. In the midst of that environment I could not help but think that only a miracle made it possible for any of the Canadian forces to come back from the inferno of that raid.
I wondered what it must have felt like to be a member of the Canadian force on that occasion; and it is a matter of regret that at this moment as I look behind me I do not find in his seat one who took part in that invasion and who as a result of his contribution was awarded the Victoria Cross. I am sorry that the hon. member for Vancouver-Burrard (Mr. Merritt) is not in his place.
One memory above all others that I carry with me from that visit to Dieppe was a story given to me by the people of that community. I have forgotten what the official called himself; he was in charge of the affairs of the city after the Germans had been driven out but before the war was over. I was told of the circumstances of that day in 1942 when our boys suffered such heavy casualties- over 3,000, including, if my memory serves me aright, some 700 dead. The story was that the Germans were about to bury our dead in a common grave, when, as I am sure all Canadian people will be glad to remember, the citizens of Dieppe, at that time in a defeated and occupied country, asked for the privilege of giving our boys an honoured burial each in a grave of his own. So they picked out a field for a cemetery on the gentle slope of a hillside two or three miles-perhaps more; I am speaking from memory-from Dieppe; and there, if you go to-day, you will see the graves of the honoured dead of the Canadian forces who fell in that assault. As I moved up and down among the white crosses I saw, as I had seen at other cemeteries in France where the name of the soldier was not known, these words on his cross, "Known unto God."
Mr. Speaker, I think it is peculiarly appropriate that we should be meeting in this house here in Canada when our Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) is laying the cornerstone of a memorial to our forces, a memorial erected

by the citizens of Dieppe. I think I can say with the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) that Canada stands to-day where she stood before, for the right of each nation to determine the character of its own future. We are glad that, our men had a part in liberating France. We appreciate this expression on the part of the citizens of one section of France for the part our forces paid in liberating their country; and we trust that our relationship with that old land will continue to be what it has been for so many years-one of mutual trust and confidence and good will.

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