When Breton Books publisher Ronald Caplan decided to reissue John Mellor's book called “Dieppe: Canada's Forgotten Heroes,” he had no idea that Cape Bretoners fought in that disastrous World War Two battle.
Caplan now knows that he was wrong.
“I learned about the Dieppe book while I was working toward John Mellor’s book called The Company Store,” says Caplan. “That’s the story of J.B. McLachlan and the Cape Breton Coal Miners during the Labour Wars of the 1920s — definitely a Cape Breton book. That research brought me to Mellor's book about the Dieppe Raid.”
Once Caplan read Dieppe: Canada's Forgotten Heroes, he knew he had no choice but to publish this book too, even though Breton Books usually publishes only Cape Breton subjects. Dieppe had been out-of-print for many years, and Caplan says that he found it a terrific, detailed telling of the courage of men under withering fire, on that ill-fated day in Canada's military history.
Caplan heard Tuma Young being interviewed on CBC and learned that his father from Whycocomagh had fought at Dieppe. Then 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’s next move was a letter to the editor of the Cape Breton Post asking for names of Cape Bretoners who fought at Dieppe. 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.
So, Dieppe: Canada’s Forgotten Heroes is a Cape Breton book after all and
Caplan continues to collect names and stories about Cape Breton soldiers who were involved in the Dieppe Raid. He can be reached at 1-800-565-5140 or email@example.com.
And for those who wish to honour these veterans, the Cape Breton Highlanders will host “Dieppe 75” on August 19, a public day in honour of the 75th anniversary of the Dieppe Raid and of the Cape Bretoners who fought there.