Remembrance Day: The mystery of the Dieppe flag


At this yr’s nationwide Remembrance Day ceremony, a weathered Canadian flag recovered from the battlefields of Dieppe will probably be positioned at the foot of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This nationwide image, presumably stained by the blood of a younger soldier throughout one of the deadliest navy operations of the Second World War, practically ended up in a landfill if not for its rescue by an American veteran.

On Aug. 19, 1942, Canadian troopers lead an assault on Dieppe, a French coastal city occupied by German forces. The daybreak raid that became a catastrophe concerned 5,000 Canadians besieged by heavy artillery hearth from land and air. Seventy per cent of the troopers would both be killed, wounded or captured over the course of 9 hours. More than 900 males died there. Some have been as younger as 16, all have been volunteers.

The Red Ensign flag was discovered on one soldier’s physique strewn on the seaside — historic treasure practically trashed.

“If that flag was a cat it will be on its ninth life,” stated the donor of the flag Mike Lowry, 75, from his dwelling in Virginia. “My dad gave you again a bit of historical past. I’m glad I had a bit of the motion.”

That piece of motion started in 1965, when Lowry’s father, Charles, enlisted him to be half of a mission to return the flag to its Canadian dwelling.

Charles Lowry stumbled throughout the flag at his neighbour’s storage sale in Nevada. The neighbour was an American soldier who had guarded prisoners of conflict in Europe throughout the Second World War. Among the captives he watched over was a German who dug graves at Dieppe and had taken the flag off the physique of Canadian soldier earlier than burying him.

Historian Jeff Noakes of the Canadian War Museum stated it was frequent for troopers to hold flags with them as inspirational reminders of the nation and regiment to which they belonged.

“Because of the worth they tackle as symbols they’re of worth to the enemy. If Germans captured Canadian flags at Dieppe they’d have been valued trophies. Just as Canadians who captured Nazi flags would view them as trophies and symbols of victory,” stated Noakes.

The American took the flag from the German prisoner, hoping to return it to a Canadian batallion however he did not encounter any Canadians earlier than his tour of responsibility ended. However. on that day of the storage sale in 1965, he entrusted the flag to Charles Lowry.

“His buddy was going to throw it away however my dad stated, ‘Someone in Canada would need that,'” Lowry stated, including that his father, an engineer labored alongside many Canadians as they constructed the Alaska-Canada freeway. He remembers his father poring over library books about flags looking for the regiment that will have carried the flag. Charles was unable to search out the proprietor earlier than his dying in 1993, however his son continued his work. Instead of looking out library books, Lowry searched the web and contacted the Imperial War Museum in Britain.

The museum was in a position to verify the flag’s Canadian origins however couldn’t pinpoint the period. Instead of bequeathing the flag to a museum “the place it will simply find yourself in a drawer,” Lowry determined to donate the flag to the Royal Canadian Legion in 2013. Using the provincial symbols in the coat of arms as a information, the Legion was in a position to date the flag again to 1870, simply after Manitoba joined Confederation, however earlier than British Columbia joined.

Photo of Charles Lowry and his spouse June (provided). Lowry discovered the Red Ensign at a storage sale in Nevada in 1965. After his dying in 1993, his son, Mike donated the flag to the Canadian Legion.


Tarnished by time and broken by sea water, the blue hue of the Union Jack has light, however the yellowish-brown patches soaked into the cloth supply potential clues to the query of who carried the flag into battle. Danny Martin, the director of company providers at the Royal Canadian Legion, desires to conduct a DNA evaluation on what could possibly be blood stains.

“Hopefully we’ll get a connection level…then you’ll be able to really hint it again to a regiment and the place this was fashioned after which get nearer to the precise reality,” stated Martin, who nonetheless has so many questions past the identification of the soldier. The flag was created a couple of years after Confederation — was it taken to the entrance throughout the Boer War, or the First World War? And was it handed on from one era of soldier to a different as a household heirloom?

“It’s so necessary that these artifacts are delivered to life as a result of they create again these reminiscences of remembrance. The Legion desires to make it possible for individuals perceive precisely the sacrifices made by these younger males.”

For now the flag is dwelling, however the full story of its journey stays a mystery.

FILE – Members of the Royal Canadian Medical Corps evacuating Allied troopers from the seaside after the Dieppe, France raid throughout the Second World War. (CP PHOTO)


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