Report by Capt. P.W.C. Hellings

Report on Events on 19 Aug 42, off Dieppe
of A. Coy, Royal Marine Commando
by Capt. P. W. C. Hellings, D.S.C. R.M.

HMS. LOCUST arrived uneventfully off Dieppe at about 0530 hrs, there had been a certain amount of firing and tracer seen on either bow previous to this. The sky was clear, but visibility was greatly reduced owing to the thick smoke resulting from the earlier landings.

At about 0610 hrs LOCUST attempted to enter the mole, but it immediately became apparent that the batteries to the EAST of the entrance had not yet been silenced. LOCUST received two hits whilst preparing to enter, resulting in two killed and about 6 wounded.

Commander Ryder seeing that the EAST batteries were still in control of the channel did not enter the harbour at the time, a Bombardment by destroyer and LOCUST being resorted to. It was very difficult in the following hours to get any clear picture as to what was happening owing to the thick smoke, destroyer bombarding and aerial battles overhead. It did however become apparent that the floating reserve in R. Boats of, I believe, about a Bn in strength was landed on BLUE beach.

Reports which I heard from Col. Phillipps on the initial landing stated that success was had at RED and WHITE beaches but that BLUE had not gone so well. I heard no report about Outer beaches.

After the floating reserve had been landed there was no news, until Commander Ryder returned from KELPIEE, when he reported that RED and WHITE beaches were clear of opposition and the General wished the marines to go in and support the ESSEX SCOTTISH through WHITE beach. The Colonel gave his orders from LOCUST, the idea being to pass through the beach to the town and there reform and report to the Colonel of the ESSEX SCOTTISH, the object of the force being to pass around the WEST and SOUTH of the town, and attack the batteries on the EASTERN cliff from the SOUTH.

The marines of Commando H.Q. and A. Coy were embarked in two M.L.C's, the force under Major Houghton from the chasseur consisting of X & B. Coy embarking in A.I.C. The Mortar Pl. & Demolition being left behind in LOCUST.

The Commando started to move toward the shore, it being about 1130 hrs, smoke was provided by the chasseur, who accompanied us within 500 yds.

Shell fire was opened on the boats almost immediately, at about 4000 yds, increasing in intensity as the range shortened. The fire appeared to consist of 3"-4" Mortar Bombs, or a similar size, intermingled with low angle gun fire of about 4" and a tracer shell of about 2 pds which may have come from tanks, up to date the range wasto great for S. A.

The fire was all coming from the EASTERN cliffs and the end and base of the mole, firing to the N.W.

The range was shortening and rifle and L.M.G. fire was become apparent, the chasseur, being now no longer able to support the force owing to the depth of waters.

At this stage I turn to the personal narrative of my Company. The M.L.C. in which we had embarked had done the main landing and was in need of repair, one engine being out of commission and the deck of the M.L.C. was washing down with water. Owing to one engine being out of commission and the other very hot, steering was difficult, and our speed reduced which resulted in in an ever increasing distance between boats; Just prior to reaching the shore and whilst in thick smoke we completely broke down, which may have been the result of a near miss or the overheating of our engine. The engine was started after about 2 mins. and we proceded on toward the shore out of the smoke in time to see the Colonel's M.L.C. and an A.L.C. containing Capt. Deveraux and one platoon and Major Hougton's A.L.C. arrive under heavy mortar and M.G. fire. Fire was intense and any attempt to reach the houses would have been most hazardous. Colonel Phillippe stood up in his M.L.C. and waved the remaining boats to return to the protection of the smoke, one A.L.C. was extracted, the Colonel M.L.C. turned broadside on and I believe from survivors reports, caught fire.

My M.L.C. at this stage received a hit close to the stern which finished any attempt at steering, leaving us some 300 yds off the shore, smoke was used in quantity and we were able to increase the distance by about 200 yds before the engine finally went. After some period a chasseur took the M.L.C. in tow and we returned to LOCUST where the company were placed on board and told to await orders. I reported to Commander Ryder who sent me to General Roberts whom I saw and reported the state of affairs and that WHITE and RED beaches were held by the enemy.

Any attempt to return to the LOCUST in a R. Boat proved fruitless as bombing had commenced and she was laying smoke at top speed, shortly after this organized attempts to evacuate ceased and the company returned to England in LOCUST.

sgd. P.W.C. Hellings,
Captain, R.M. D.S.C.
R.M. Commando
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