Dieppe (French pronunciation: [djɛp]) is a commune in the Seine-Maritime department in France. In 1999, the population of the whole Dieppe urban area was 81,419.
A port on the English Channel, famous for its scallops, and with a regular ferry service from the Gare Maritime to Newhaven in England, Dieppe also has a popular pebbled beach, a 15th-century castle and the churches of Saint-Jacques and Saint-Remi.
First recorded as a small fishing settlement in 1030, Dieppe was an important prize fought over during the Hundred Years’ War. Dieppe housed the most advanced French school of cartography in the 16th century. Two of France’s best navigators, Michael le Vasseur and his brother Thomas le Vasseur, lived in Dieppe when they were recruited to join the expedition of René Goulaine de Laudonnière which departed Le Havre for Florida on April 20, 1564. The expedition resulted in the construction of Fort Caroline, the first French colony in the New World. Dieppe was the premier port of the kingdom in the 17th century. On July 23, 1632, 300 colonists heading to New France departed from Dieppe. At the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, Dieppe lost 3,000 of its Huguenot citizens, who fled abroad.
Dieppe was an important target in wartime; the town was largely destroyed by an Anglo-Dutch naval bombardment in 1694. It was rebuilt after 1696 in a typical French classical style by Ventabren, an architect, who gave it its unique feature for a sea port. It was popularised as a seaside resort following the 1824 visit of the widowed Duchess of Berry, daughter-in-law of Charles X. She encouraged the building of the recently-renovated municipal theatre, the Petit-Théâtre (1825), associated particularly with Camille Saint-Saëns.
During the later 19th century, Dieppe became popular with English artists as a beach resort. Prominent literary figures such as Arthur Symons loved to keep up with the latest fads of avant-garde France here, and during «the season» sometimes stayed for weeks on end.
Dieppe was occupied by German naval and army forces after the fall of France in 1940. In order to allow a better defence of the coast against a possible Allied landing, the Germans destroyed the mauresque casino that was located near the beach area. The destruction of the casino had only begun at the time of the Dieppe Raid.
The Dieppe Raid in the Second World War was a costly battle for the Allies. On August 19, 1942, Allied soldiers, mainly drawn from the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division, landed at Dieppe in the hope of occupying the town for a short time, gaining intelligence and drawing the Luftwaffe into open battle. The Allies suffered more than 1,400 deaths; 1,946 Canadian soldiers were captured—more prisoners than the army lost in the 11 months of the 1944–45 NW Europe campaign. However, no major objectives on the ground were achieved; in the air, a major objective of drawing German air forces into open battle was realized.
French soldiers from the region, captured in the fighting of 1940, were returned to the area after the Dieppe Raid as repayment by the German occupation authorities, who felt that the conduct of the French civilians in Dieppe had been correct and had not hindered the defence of the port during the battle.
The port remained garrisoned by German forces until the conclusion of the Battle of Normandy. When the 1st Canadian Army approached at the end of August, the garrison withdrew, not desiring to enter into battle for the port.
Dieppe was liberated on September 1, 1944, by soldiers from the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division. On September 3, the entire division paused for reorganization, and a victory parade was held; contingents representing all major units of the 2nd Division marched 10 abreast behind the massed pipes and drums of the division’s highland regiments. A memorial service was held in the nearby Canadian military cemetery to honour those killed in the Dieppe Raid.
Dieppe, a city in New Brunswick, Canada, received its present name in 1946, in honour of the commemoration of the 913 Canadian soldiers killed in the Dieppe Raid. The majority of its inhabitants are of Acadian descent.