Early in 1942, Combined Operations decided to plan a raid on the French Port of Dieppe to gather information for future sea-borne landings. The raid (code named Operation Jubilee) was planned for the middle of August 1942 with objectives to destroy local defences and hold for a limited time the port and town of Dieppe.
Opposing the allied air forces were the battle hardened and experienced Luftwaffe fighter groups JG 2 and JG 26 which had about one hundred Fw 190s and Bf 109s at their disposal. Included in these two groups were two staffein of Fw 190A ‘Jabos’ (fighter bombers).
On 19 August, the day of the operation, Tangmere’s No 43 Squadron was the first to depart and led by Squadron Leader Danny Le Roy du Vivier (a Belgian), its twelve Hurricanes departed the airfield in the dark at 0425 hours and flew across the Channel to attack gun positions on the beaches and buildings immediately to the west of Dieppe harbour. In this attack, which was through intense flak opposition, two of the squadron’s Hurricanes were shot down both pilots survived. The remnants of No 43 Squadron landed back at Tangmere just after 0600 hours and were quickly rearmed and refuelled. Taking-off at 0750 hours, the squadrons second sortie was to search for ten E-boats, reported to be sailing out of Boulogne. Despite a long search, none were found and the squadron was back at Tangmere by 0920 hours. Later that morning, No 43 returned for its third sortie with another Hurricane squadron to again search for E-boats. Again, none were found.
In the early afternoon, No 43 Squadron, escorted by No 66 Squadron Spitfires, flew its fourth (and last) sortie over the beaches and harbour in an attempt to silence the gun batteries that were causing havoc to the withdrawing troops. This time the Luftwaffe Fw 190s attacked the squadron but only one Hurricane was damaged.
Tangmere’s aircraft, including No 43 Squadron, had been tested to the full on 19 August with over four hundred sorties flown. The raid had been the largest and most complex aerial operation thus far in the history of warfare and much was learnt about the organisation of large scale aerial operations that was to be of value later in the war.
A REPLICATION OF THE ARTWORK ON SQUADRON LEADER du VIVIER’S HURRICANE AT THE TIME OF THE DIEPPE RAID IS ON DISPLAY IN THE TANGMERE HALL.