Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Summer books list, 1: From Vimy to Dieppe

Run a history blog for a while, and publishers will offer you history books, even prior-to-publication books. Looking at the pile of these I have presently have, plus several more I actually purchased, I'm starting a series drawing attention to some of them.

Ron Caplan of Breton Books reminds us that amidst all the Vimy interest in the spring, this summer marks the 75th anniversary of the Dieppe raid of August 1942.  He's republishing John Mellor's Dieppe: Canada's Forgotten Heroes, and in the process has discovered a local history: the many Cape Bretoners who participated in the raid. From a BB press release:
Caplan happened to hear Tuma Young being interviewed on CBC. He caught the brief mention that Tuma’s father, a Mi’kmaw man from Whycocomagh, had fought at Dieppe. Later, Leonard Boudreau of the Cape Breton Highlanders Association told Caplan about R.W.L. MacDonald, a Fisheries Officer in Fourchu who fought in the Dieppe Raid. A powerful swimmer, MacDonald attempted to swim back across the English Channel but was plucked from the water and taken prisoner.

Caplan sent a Letter to the Editor to the Cape Breton Post asking for names of Cape Bretoners who fought at Dieppe. And the flood gates opened!

Calls and emails came from people who had Cape Breton friends and relatives who were in the Dieppe Raid, including a remarkable email from Wayne MacIvar, who maintains a website devoted to Cape Bretoners who served in all wars. MacIvar provided over 30 names of Cape Bretoners who had fought at Dieppe.
A book launch and memorial is planned for Sydney on August 19. (Dieppe is also the cover story of the forthcoming August-September Canada's History.)
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