By Dan Walton
More than 2,400 Canadians were killed, captured, or wounded as a result of the Dieppe Raid, also known as the Battle of Dieppe, which was Canadas attempt to penetrate the shoreline of Nazi-occupied France in 1942.
Among the minority of soldiers to survive the attack was Donald Allan, whose daughter Helen (Allan) Kohorst now lives in Invermere with her husband Jerry Kohorst.
It was a horrid day; hed mentioned that, Jerry said.
While fighting in Dieppe, Donald was faced with extraordinary circumstances after the assault went awry.
He had to take over the troop because the leader was killed during the raid, so he took over command, said Jerry.
Many soldiers including Donald barged deep into the Nazi territory, but were forced to retreat six hours after the assault began.
Nearly 60 per cent of Allied soldiers didnt return from the raid; Donald survived by swimming for hours away from the beach.
Donald served the full duration of the war. In addition to the Dieppe Raid, he also participated in the Invasion of Normandy in 1944. D-Day, June 6th, 1944, was the date of the initial assaults.
Donald found the latter mission relatively easy, said Jerry, because Donald was keeping an eye on decoy machinery stationed in England during D-Day.
He didnt have to go off the beaches during D-Day the way he did for Dieppe, said Jerry.
Upon the conclusion of the war, Donald was honoured with a Distinguished Conduct Medal, presented to him by King George VI at Buckingham Palace in London, England.
He went above and beyond what would ever be expected, explained Jerry, referring to a battle in Holland, in which Donalds commanding officer had been killed, leaving him, for the second time, with no choice but to fill bigger shoes.
He was a member of the infantry and initially held the rank of Sergeant Major before eventually becoming a Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant.
Its quite an honour; I have a lot of respect for that, said Helen, adding that Jerry had been able to get more war stories out of her father than she could. I dont know if it was just a man thing, or what.
Donalds future wife Kay had decided to serve in the war as a result of the tragic outcome in Dieppe. The two had grown up in the farming community of Creelman, Saskatchewan. Although they both served in the South Saskatchewan Regiment during World War II, it wasnt until five years after the war that they became a couple. The two eventually married and relocated to Prince George.
Dad moved to B.C. to switch from agriculture to forestry, said Helen. She and her two brothers lived in Prince George before the family moved to the Columbia Valley in 1971. Donald passed away in 2002, and Kay followed nine years later, but their contributions to the war will always be worthy of recognition.