Mike Strachan’s e-mail journal — Entry #14, from France
Received 8 May 2008
Long time no write! There were no internet cafes open in Arras when I was there, and the hotel wants $20.00 an hour!
Travels for May 5/08 in Arras, France:
After lunch I'm off to Dieppe, the site of the failed Canadian raid in 1942. It's a little over one hour’s drive away, and as I get closer the traffic gets thicker. The line of cars crawls into town, and at the beach front I join a convoy of cars going in circles around a huge parking lot. There must be 500 parking spaces and not a one to be had. All the spots in town are "payant" which I think requires a special windshield permit, as there are no meters or ticket dispensers. A little bit further out I squeeze into a tight spot at the port authority, and walk back.
Half of the people in northwest France are here. It's warm out and I'm in shirt sleeves — about 24° at 2 PM. I find a memorial to Les Fusiliers de Mont Royal, and another to the Highland Light Infantry, and a Canadian flag flying beneath a large poster — it turns out it's from 2002, the 60th anniversary of the raid. Around the corner there's a boarded-up church in poor condition, with a flea market going on outside. There's also a small memorial stone to two fallen Canadian soldiers.
Just north of Dieppe is the town of Puys, which also claims a 1942 raid landing. Memorials are to the Royal Regiment of Canada, and there's a plaque for a visit by Mackenzie King. Apparently Canadian units landed at both places.*The shore here is bare sharp rock at low tide. Just before I get to Le Treport (QOR), I find what has to be the shortest town name in France — Eu. Then into Le Treport, another beach town and small port activity. Just north of here is Mers-les-Bains which has a huge chemical plant and gives the area a distinct odour. When the QOR left Le Treport, they headed through Yzengremer and up the English Channel coast. The 1H wound up in Abbeville, and both have now left Normandy and are now in Picardy.
The 1H harboured at Abbeville on the Somme at the beginning of September 1942, and there are some quaint scenes here — a half-Gothic-half-Norman church, the slow-flowing picturesque Somme, and a new old style gare.
Where to next? I'll find out tomorrow at the gare, as I have no reservations yet for train or hotel. My photo count is now over 500.
Tomorrow — more Arras and then Vimy Ridge.
* Editor’s note: According to Wikipedia, “The landing at Puys by the Royal Regiment of Canada was delayed and the potential advantages of surprise and darkness were lost. The well-placed German forces held the Canadians that did land on the beach with little difficulty. 225 men were killed, 264 surrendered and 33 made it back to England. The beach was defended by just 60 Germans, who at no time felt the need to reinforce their position.”