First letter home after Dieppe

In a letter home (the first letter to make it to Calgary following the Dieppe Raid), Doc Alexander wrote:

Now Dieppe is a thing of history, and a memory intermingled with horror and pride at the way in which Canadians can face difficulties. Anything I saw in the whole of the last war – and I saw plenty there – nothing can in the slightest compare with this. A combination of fire from every direction, both sides, in front, behind, above and below, and every conceivable type of weapons pretty well sizes up the situation.

The troops were magnificent: the navy and the air force were wonderful but the price which was paid for the results attained was high. I do not know how much I can write due to censorship so I must not go into details which might be of any benefit to the enemy.

You will know by now that we are a very sad regiment, having lost a great many of our officers and men. Our colonel (Lt.-Col. A.H. Andrews of Winnipeg) is lost. John Begg has been made colonel commanding the regiment. George (Capt. George Valentine) is lost but may be a prisoner of war. We an only hope and pray that this is right. I had a long talk with George on Saturday before we went in and saw him again on Sunday evening as they were leaving. He was cheerful and full of ambition and when last heard from over the radio was displaying amazing courage and fighting a gallant fight. We think there is a good chance that George is alive and we certainly pray that it is true.

Gallant Charlie Page (Major C.E. Page of Calgary). On Saturday night, Charlie and I had a great talk in his car out on the road. A wonderful chap and a great soldier. He fought his landing, and was known to have carried his objectives.

“Buddy” Purdy (Capt. W.G. Purdy of Calgary) was magnificent. He led his tanks as only Buddy knew how. One of the youngest officers in the regiment, clever, likeable and was heading straight for much bigger thing when he led his men into action.

Dick Allred (Capt. Richard Allred of Calgary), faithful old Dick, was as cool as ever, carrying out his job on the beach under withering fire. We miss him terribly here but believe and hope he may have been captured. We know nothing more about him.

Allen Turney (Capt. A. H. Turney of Calgary) is also missing and there is a definite chance that he may be a prisoner. Last Friday, I was with him all day at headquarters. He was a grand lad and faced what was before him with courage, demanding the respect and admiration of all.

Would love to be able to give you more details of things but I know I can’t. You know how we feel. We know how you at home feel, but we also know that things of this nature must be done and to get the results which we must get, we must pay. The paying is cruel to us here, the waiting relatives at home – terrible.

If only these things will bring home to those in Canada the fact that this is a war. We do need men. We need every effort that man, woman and child can put into this, and we need it now, if not in a voluntary way, the compulsory and rigid at that…

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About Rob Alexander

I am a writer, photographer and historian and the author of The History of Canmore, published by Summerthought Publishing of Banff, AB.

2 responses to “First letter home after Dieppe”

  1. Marian Anton says :

    Rob, reading these letters has been an incredible journey into the reality of war for me. I am so glad you have them, and have done such a wonderful job of sharing them this way. I am very proud of my Alexander family!
    Love, Marian

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