One of the largest air battles of World War 2 occurred on August 19, 1942 over the French port of Dieppe. The planned amphibious assault, code named 'Operation Jubilee' was initiated in the early morning hours of August 19, and lasted less than nine hours. But in that short time the British attempt at testing Hitler's 'Atlantic Wall' and new battle doctrines, turned into a disaster for the ground forces, costing the Allies substantial casualties.
Of a nearly 6,100 assault force made up of mostly Canadian troops (4,963), 3,367 became casualties, either killed in action or taken prisoner. 2,210 returned to England with many wounded among them.
In the air, over 49 Spitfires and Hurricane squadrons, some with American pilots, faced off against three hundred Me109s and Fw190s of JG-2 (Ricthofen) and JG-26 (Schlageter). Nearly 1,000 aircraft from both sides engaged in a raging air melee in the relatively confined air space over the city of Dieppe. Not since the summer of 1940 and the Battle of Britain had so many planes and aircrew been embroiled in such a conflict. Though outnumbered by nearly 3 to 1, the German defenders lost 48 aircraft to the Allies' 106.
On the surface, 'Operation Jubilee' was nothing short of a disaster of monumental proportions that did not bode well for the Allies of the war in Europe. The raid on Dieppe left little for them to claim as a victory, when reviewing the stark figures in the loss of men and material. Fortress Europa seemed to remain impregnable. This would be true for the time being, except for the invaluable lesson learned from the failed mission. For out of the ashes of the Dieppe raid came the tried and tested battle doctrines, both on the ground and in the air. These doctrines would serve the Allies well a few years later, less than 100 miles south of the beaches of Dieppe in a new operation with the code name 'Overlord.'
In Robert Bailey's painting, titled 'Defiance at Dieppe,' a Spitfire from the 309th. Squadron (American) zooms past a mortally wounded Messerschmitt 109 'Gustav,' whose pilot attempts to exit his flaming aircraft near the beach head. In the heat of battle, there is an undeniable air of defiance amongst the combatants as dozens of planes from both sides jockey for a position of advantage.
2nd. Lieutenant Leonard H. Brown was born in Versailles, Missouri and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in July, 1940. He was with the 309th Squadron and by May 1942 was in England, flying British Spitfire Mk V in a reverse 'lend lease' arrangement. Based at Chichester on the south coast, they flew fighter sweeps across the English Channel to France. First major encounter was August 19, 1942 over Dieppe. He flew four combat missions that day. When the press learned that the U.S. pilots felt the Spitfire was far superior to the P-39, this did not go over well with the top brass. In late 1942 the Squadron was shipped to Africa, where they continued flying Spitfires. 2nd Lieutenant Brown ended his military career as a Colonel, with one victory. Awards include Legion of Merit, D.F.C., Air Medal with 6 O.L.C.'s, and Bronze Star. (His aircraft 'Dee' is featured in Defiance at Dieppe).
2nd. Lieutenant Jerry D. Collinsworth was born in Dublin, Texas. He is one of the few Americans to become an ace flying the Supermarine Spitfire. March 1942 saw him in England flying in the 31st. F.G., 307th Squadron. This was the first 'Yank' fighter unit in the country since WWI. On August 19, 1942, he received his 'baptism of fire' above the ill-fated commando raid on the coast of France. Later, Collingsworth helped spearhead Operation Torch landings in Oran, Algeria, still flying Spitfires. He covered the landings at southern Sicily, flying from Malta's sister island Gozo. In 125 combat sorties, he shot down 6 Axis aircraft, 1 probable and 1 damaged. He finished his military career as a Colonel. His Spitfire is seen low left in Defiance at Dieppe. Awards include D.F.C. with 1 O.L.C., Air Medal with 17 O.L.C.'s, the Purple Heart and Army Commendation Medal.
Sheet size: 33" wide x 21 1/2" high.