The Dieppe Enigma with David O’Keefe

| December 16, 2020

Juno Beach and Beyond
Juno Beach and Beyond
The Dieppe Enigma with David O'Keefe

Dieppe is a fishing port on the Normandy coast built along a long cliff overlooking the English Channel. On 19 August 1942, Canadian, British, American, and Free French troops staged a raid against the German-occupied town and nearby seaside villages. The result was a disaster. In one morning, 3,367 Canadian soldiers were killed, wounded, or captured out of a force of 4,963 men. 907 Canadian soldiers died in the raid, making it Canada’s deadliest day of the Second World War. 

Was the raid launched to appease American military leaders who sought action in 1942? To appease the Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin, whose forces were fighting desperately on the Eastern Front? To learn important lessons for the eventual landings that would come in June 1944? Today’s guest, David O’Keefe, offers a different purpose.  

His research suggests that Combined Operations Headquarters, under Vice Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, designed the Dieppe Raid to steal secret German codebooks and materials. In early 1942, the German armed forces introduced the four-rotor Enigma cypher machine. Suddenly, signals intelligence (codenamed Ultra) the British and their allies relied upon to route convoys around German U-boats in the North Atlantic went dark. Sinkings skyrocketed. In their desperation to solve the problem, Combined Operations initiated Operation Jubilee. The result was a pathetic failure. Bravery could not overcome reckless planning.

Bodies of Canadian soldiers lying among damaged landing craft and ‘Churchill’ tanks of the Calgary Regiment following Operation ‘Jubilee’ (Library and Archives Canada / C-014160).


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Time Stamps

4:15 The Ultra Secret

11:48 Ian Flemming

15:29 Pinch Policy

17:20 Rutter to Jubilee

21:40 The Raid

26:24 Traditional Excuses

35:14 Into a New Paradigm

Guest Biography

David O’Keefe, a former officer in the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment of Canada) is an award-winning historian, author, filmmaker and leading authority on Canadian military research. He made his debut on the podcast in July 2019 to discuss his book, Seven Days in Hell: Canada’s Battle for Normandy and the Rise of the Black Watch Snipers. David is also the author of One Day in August: Ian Fleming, Enigma and the Deadly Raid on Dieppe. He currently teaches history at Marianopolis College in Quebec. 


The following links offer more information on the topics discussed in this episode:


Winston Churchill

Joseph Stalin

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Vice Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten

Ian Fleming


Ultra Intelligence


The Battle of the Atlantic

Operation Torch

The Dieppe Raid (Operation Jubilee)


A Question of Honour with David O’Keefe

Canada’s Longest Battle with Marc Milner

Rush to Danger with Ted Barris


Juno Beach & Beyond is hosted and edited by Alex Fitzgerald-Black, the centre’s Digital Projects Coordinator.

Mackenzie King’s speech to British Parliament from the British Pathé YouTube channel:

Artillery firing sounds from the CBC News: The National YouTube Channel:

Female veteran’s voice (Eileen Green, née Short) Courtesy of The Memory Project, Historica Canada:

Winston Churchill’s “Finest Hour” speech from Jonathan Thomas’s YouTube channel:

Spitfire sound effect from Jason Kirby’s YouTube channel:

Dramatic Interlude by Alexander Nakarada |

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Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Dispatches from Juno shares all the news, events, and stories from the Juno Beach Centre in France and Canada. Interested in contributing a story to the blog? Email the editor at

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