How a 5 year old boy nearly went

By Jim Still

Article by Jim Still found on the following website in 2004 and still there today.

I have just finished reading your web site on the Dieppe raid. An excellent site on that subject as I too nearly went to Dieppe.
Although at the time I was only 5 years old, we lived in South Road, Newhaven. South Road was an approach road to the loading stage for the Tanks taking part in the raid. On the night in question I was wakened by the sounds of the heavy tanks in our road, and looked out of my bedroom window to see the road filled with tanks which were now stationary but with their engines still running.
Being at this young age, and I might add an absolute menace to my mother and local authorities, I found the scene a kid's wonderland, and wasted no time in dressing and departing discreetly via our back door, through the back yard, into the rear lane and made my way round to South Road and the Tanks.
I soon attracted the attention of one of the tank commanders who was probably quite surprised to see such a young child out so late at night. The exact time of night I'm not sure of, just that it was dark and probably after midnight.
The soldier in question lifted me up onto his tank, and I was inside like a flash. Absolutely agog at what I was seeing, I sat there and just looked about me. For how long I don't know, but I do know that we started to move and I think, I was forgotten by all. I do know that the distance to the landing craft was about 350 yards from my house, and with fifty yards to go I wriggled up beside the commander and popped my head out. I was immediately spotted by a Redcap at the Sheffield Hotel, who yelled out " Get that damned kid out of there". I knew by his tone that he meant me, and with a little help from the Commander I was dropped at the side of the tank with leg's already running, and I made a rapid departure from the area.
I have always wondered since what happened to that tank and it's crew, and did the Redcap ever remember the incident? Perhaps I'll never know. After reading dozens of books on the raid, and in later life serving on the cross channel ferries over to Dieppe and visiting the Canadian Cemetery, I have always had that question on my mind, and always been hopeful of reading a reference to it. Now 64 years old I doubt I'll ever know.
It goes without saying that I sincerely hope that the crew made it back OK.

I hope you find my little tale of adventure of interest.  Sincerely yours. JIM STILL.

This page was added by Richard Beckett on 01/06/2008.

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