On a crisp, sunny Saturday morning, a group of legion and community members marched to the Memorial Park in Stettler to participate in the 75th anniversary of the Dieppe Raid.
Gathered at the park were veterans, and families of all those who had been associated with the Raid.
The Dieppe Raid had highly affected Stettler and area communities as 27 young men had signed up with the B Squadron of the Kings Own Calgary Regiment. The Regiment had chosen Stettler as the Enlistment station for B Squadron, with the A Squadron being in Olds and the C Squadron in Red Deer, which reflects the importance as well as the significance the Raid had for the town.
The Dieppe Raid took place around 5 a.m. on Aug. 19, 1942, leaving all families in the area shocked and distraught as to where their young men could have gone.
“They had vanished! Days and weeks passed, parents and families assumed they were deceased,” recalled Rosalind LaRose, whose father, Albert Chick was one of the young men, who was taken prisoner in the Raid. “Finally word was received that they had been taken prisoner by the Germans, leaving the community sickened and helpless, only to support the families through the horrid result.”
LaRose said that during 1942, if the population of Stettler and area is considered, a decrease of 27 young men, some not even adults, would dwindle the population by a considerable amount.
“My father and his very best friend Robert Andersen had grown up together, therefore enlisting together and resulting in being prisoners at Dieppe,” LaRose said. “You might say my dad was one of the luckier ones as he was 26 when taken, yet there was nothing lucky about any of it. As a family, we did so much with the Andersen family; there was a bond between our fathers and family unlike most. We didn’t hear much of the time spent as prisoners but they didn’t have to talk, you understood without the words.”
LaRose said that because of the Raid, and the large number from Stettler community, there’s a kinship among all the families that had suffered. Legion events were a very high priority, and the support to each other remained and for some is still of high importance.
“This is evident today as I knew the 75th anniversary for ‘Operation Jubilee’ could not pass without a celebration in honour of these young boys and men, we must carry on their legacy. ‘Lest we forget, we will remember them,’” LaRose added. “I have been involved with the Legion my whole life with all events involving our family closely, it is very much a family to me.”