Sunday, August 19, 2018

The Dieppe Raid and blown intelligence

German photo of Allied dead at Dieppe
British intelligence told the Germans in advance of the Dieppe raid

On this day in 1942, a force of 4,963 Canadian troops, accompanied by just over a thousand British soldiers, 50 US Rangers and 15 Frenchmen, conducted the catastrophe of Operation Jubilee.

Known to history as the Dieppe Raid, the outcome of the brief assault against the French, German-held port of Dieppe was a decisive, bloody defeat of the Allied forces.
At Dieppe, 907 Canadians, including 56 officers, lost their lives in a battle that lasted for only nine hours. A total of 3,369 men were killed or wounded. At Dieppe, the Canadian Army lost more prisoners than in the whole eleven months of the later campaign in North-West Europe, or the twenty months during which Canadians fought in Italy.
Why did the raid take place?


Allied planners had agreed that an actual second-front invasion of occupied France could not be undertaken without substantially more experience. Though successful, the landings against Vichy French forces in northern Africa were certainly no rehearsal for operations against Nazi forces on the French coast.

So the Dieppe raid was born. The raid had no long-term tactical objective; even had the raid been entirely successful., Dieppe was to have been abandoned and troops withdrawn to Britain after a short time. The raid's goals were entirely strategic, oriented toward the future invasion of France from the sea.

Jubilee's main objectives were to train leaders at all level to conduct large-scale amphibious, combined and joint operations against the coast of France, to seize the port and hold it for a short time, to take prisoners and gather intelligence, and to demolish certain German fortifications.

It was in short meant to form the basis of an extensive set of lessons learned that could be applied toward invasion when invasion came, and to boost home-front morale at a time of the war when little could be cheered in European fighting.

The Raid

Carried by 240 Allied vessels, the raid was late in getting started, a day late in fact, having originally been scheduled for Aug. 18. The first troops to land had to advance in dawn's light rather than darkness as planned. Consequent loss of surprise is still held to be a primary reason that the raid was repulsed so bloodily. In fact, the Allies had utterly lost the advantage of surprise, but the loss was not because of daylight; it was because of the postponement. German forces were fully alerted and aware of the coming raid before the first ships appeared over the horizon.

There were two supporting, prior attacks on the east and west of the main line of advance, commencing at 0500 hours. Both were thrown back quickly with great loss. Because of this, the Germans were able to bring fierce, effective fire directly upon the main force when it landed opposite Dieppe.

Landing at 0530 hours, the main force was immediately taken under intense small arms, mortar and artillery fire. Despite the heroism of the attacking troops, a bare few made it off the beach. Twelve of 27 Canadian tanks were knocked out before getting off the sand. Only six reached the beach's esplanade, where they were stopped by antitank ditches and then destroyed.

Six hundred Canadian reserve troops were landed when commanders mistakenly thought that the initial troops had taken a foothold in Dieppe. They suffered all the way onto land and 475 of them never made it back to England.

Hardly anywhere did Allied troops make it much more than a few dozen yards away from the waterline. Only Number 4 Commando of the Royal Marines achieved all its objectives of the day, and those were very limited, though difficult to be sure. At 1050 the order to abandon the attack was given.

Why the attack failed

Loss of surprise on the morning of the attack is usually attributed as a main reason the raid failed. Yet the real reason the attack failed was revealed in 1963 by Stanley Lovell, chief of research and development of the American Office of Strategic Services during the war. The reason was very simple: Britain's Secret Intelligence Service ("Broadway") told the Germans about the raid a day ahead of time, on purpose.

In chapter 15 of his book, Of Spies and Stratagems, Lovell relates the story of a German spy captured in Britain on Aug. 31, 1939, who under interrogation claimed that his lineage was of "almost nobility." Before long, the SIS and the German came to agreement: he would be doubled to work for the SIS and after the war was won Britain would make him a knight of the realm.

Lovell says he personally read many of the messages to the German espionage service that the would-be knight sent, many of which critically misinformed the Germans of Britain's readiness to repulse invasion or of the combat depth of the Royal Air Force.

A precursor to the misfired Dieppe stratagem was a commando raid against the island of Lofoten, where German occupiers produced large quantities of fish oil used in explosives. The doubled agent radioed the Abwehr that the islands would be attacked on March 6, 1941. Germany rushed forces to the scene only to find two-day old, charred ruins and a sign poked into the sand that said, "We'll smoke your fish for you!"

Three months later a similarly accurate-but-late message was sent warning of a commando raid against the French port of St. Nazaire, where the destroyer Campbelltown, loaded with explosives, was remotely crashed into the only drydock along that coast large enough to handle German U-boats.

The SIS was given permission to send just such a too-late-but-true message to the Germans about the Dieppe raid. The message was to be sent Monday evening the 18th of August, about 12 hours after the Allied forces had landed.

The SIS was not told that the landing was postponed until Tuesday. The Germans received the message Monday evening, alerted their forces at Dieppe and were waiting before dawn on the 19th.

Lovell writes that a director of Britain's Special Operation, Executive told him that the SIS operation escaped being closed down by the thinnest of margins, surviving only when a Briton pointed out that the doubled agent's standing with the Abwehr could not possibly be higher, and that the Germans would now believe anything he told them.

Claiming to have very highly-placed sources deep within General Dwight D. Eisenhower's headquarters, the agent became deeply involved in deception operations covering Operation Overlord, the invasion of France in 1944. Most important was to deceive the Germans of the place and time of the invasion. I'll let Lovell finish the story (click for larger image):

The aftermathThe raid was a disaster for the Allies and a propaganda triumph for the Germans. Lovell writes of the sickening feeling Allied commanders had when viewing captured German reels of the battle.

As you may imagine, finger pointing among British commanders and the imperial staff began almost immediately. Lord Louis Mountbatten, the attack's main advocate, maintained the rest of his life that lessons learned from the raid were invaluable for later Allied successes. These arguments are weak, according to the BBC:
The disaster did point up the need for much heavier firepower in future raids. It was recognised that this should include aerial bombardment, special arrangements to be made for land armour, and intimate fire support right up to the moment when troops crossed the waterline (the most dangerous place on the beach) and closed with their objectives. 
However, it did not need a debacle like Dieppe to learn these lessons. As judged by General Sir Leslie Hollis - secretary to the Chiefs of Staff Committee and deputy head of the Military Wing of the War Cabinet with direct access to Churchill - the operation was a complete failure, and the many lives that were sacrificed in attempting it were lost with no tangible result.
Canada at War disagrees with the BBC's assessment that nothing worthwhile was learned at Dieppe.
The Dieppe fiasco demonstrated that it was imperative to improve communications at all levels: on the battlefield, between the HQs of each unit, between air, naval and ground forces. The idea of capturing a well-defended seaport to use as a bridgehead was dropped after August 19th, 1942. In addition, the raid on Dieppe showed how important it was to use prior air bombings to destroy enemy defences as much as possible, to support assault troops with artillery fire from ships and landing crafts, to improve techniques and equipment to remove obstacles to men and tanks. 
The true meaning of the sacrifices made at Dieppe was made obvious two years after this ill-fated date, when on D-Day the Allies gained a foothold in Europe to free the continent from Nazi aggression. 
Canadian General H.D.G. Crerar says D-Day would have been a disaster were it not for the lessons of Dieppe. Among those lessons: don’t assault a fortified fort; rather, attack on the beaches, give infantry support and plan it all down to the last hand grenade.
This seems a better assessment to me. Perhaps these lessons would have been learned otherwise, but perhaps not. For sure they were learned that day. Just as importantly, the British and other Allies took to heart that there had to be a seamless integration between military, intelligence and counterintelligence operations. This was just as valuable a lesson as any of the military ones.

Finally, Global News Canada says that raid's magnitude was a deception operation aimed to mask the raid's true purpose: to "pinch" (capture) a new version of the Nazi Enigma encryption machine.
According to O’Keefe’s research, British naval officers used Operation Jubilee to target the German-made Enigma code machine, an electro-mechanical piece of equipment that used a series of rotors for the encryption and decryption of secret messages. ... 
While the British were successful breaking into the three-rotor Enigma machines, everything changed on February 1, 1942, when the Germans introduced the four-rotor Enigma device — instantly blacking out Bletchley Park. 
According to files, British naval intelligence believed that in order to crack the four-rotor Enigma machine, a pinch raid was necessary. A successful pinch would mean secretly stealing parts of the machine, code books and setting sheets.
This may well be true, with the other objectives listed above being also true, but of lesser strategic importance. It doesn't change the fact that the SIS blew the secrecy of the whole show.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Taking Communion to the Sick and Home-bound



Holy Communion is one of two a sacraments in the United Methodist Church, the other being baptism. In the UMC, communion is an act of the whole church. We do not practice private communion. It is always done within the context of the assembled community of faith. But, like almost every other Christian denomination, we recognize that not everyone can be assembled when communion is offered. Persons who are not able to come by reason of illness, disability or medical treatment or condition may be offered communion where they reside or are under treatment. In the United Methodist Church, this is known as extending the table. However, communion for these persons begins within the context of the community of faith. The communion elements of bread and wine are consecrated by the pastor before being transported to serve to the home-bound for the sick.

General information

1.         Because Communion is an act of the church, it is intended for any person baptized into the body of Christ in the apostolic tradition. In Methodism, Communion may be taken by unbaptized persons if they are desirous of baptism soon. Hence, Communion should be served only by baptized persons.

2.         One of the earliest sacramental issues the early church had to deal with was whether the moral character of clergy or lay persons could negate the efficacy of the sacraments. That is, were there sins that should disqualify clergy or laity from either consecrating or receiving the sacraments? The answer is no. The actor in the sacraments is God, whose power is not hindered by the human condition. Therefore, there is no personal issue of servers that makes them unworthy to take Communion to the homebound or sick. We are not worthy to receive or serve Communion to begin with!

3.         Communion is to be neither consecrated, served, nor received casually. It is a means of grace by which Christ sanctifies his holy church to move us on to perfection. While a Communion visit may be light-hearted, serving and receiving Communion should be treated with respect.

4.         Ideally, Communion to the sick and homebound should be taken on the same day that it is celebrated at the church, using the same Communion elements as shared by the congregation.  Those who carry Holy Communion to the sick and persons otherwise confined, therefore, continue the community's act of worship. They extend the community's embrace to include those unable to be physically present. If a same-day visit is not possible, Communion should be taken as soon as possible.

5.         Always call ahead to confirm the day and time to come. Observe the visitants’ condition and time your visit with them as you deem best for all. Remember, most will be very glad to see you and may want you to stay longer than you planned!

6.         “Visit at full speed” right to departure. Do not take several minutes to explain why you must leave and say farewell. When the time comes that you must leave, simply stand and politely say so, make brief but cordial farewells, and go.

7.         When praying with the homebound and sick, ask them first what they wish you to pray for, if they are able to answer.

8.         Communion is to be offered to all persons present if they wish. So it is good to know how many persons will be there before arriving.

To continue, click on "


Ministers of Communion for the sick should:

·     be sincere Christians in faith and practice who follow the Christian way of life. They should be at ease with other people.

·     participate faithfully in the sacramental and liturgical life of the Church.

·     be able to minister to others in the company of suffering or even death.

·     keep confidences and not discuss indiscriminately the condition of persons or their homes.

·     be able to deal with the sick or the elderly in a compassionate, cheerful and sensitive way.

Role of Clergy and Laity

Since the early church, the consecration of the bread wine for Communion has been the exclusive privilege of clergy, including in Protestant denominations. However, this does not mean that the entire Communion liturgy must be led only by clergy. Lay persons may lead the liturgy all the way to the “Words of Institution.” The UMC’s Discipleship Ministries explains:[1]

The "Great Thanksgiving," in which we find the "words of institution," is a prayer addressed to God. The prayer is the second of four ritual actions for the Lord's Supper that are modeled on the actions of Jesus on the night of his last meal with the disciples and on his actions at the table in Emmaus. The actions are: take (preparing the bread and cup); bless (giving thanks over the bread and cup); break (breaking the single loaf of bread and raising the cup); and give (the bread and cup are given to the people). Simply stated, the first part of the prayer blesses God, the second recalls Jesus, and the third part invokes the Holy Spirit. At the point where the prayer turns to recalling the Last Supper, the prayer becomes a narrative of the actions and words of Jesus. In "Word and Table I," the words about the bread are from Luke 22:19 and those about the cup are from Matthew 26:27.
On the night in which he gave himself up for us,
he took bread, gave thanks to you, broke the bread,
gave it to his disciples, and said:
"Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you.
Do this in remembrance of me."
When the supper was over, he took the cup,
gave thanks to you, gave it to his disciples, and said:
"Drink from this, all of you;
this is my blood of the new covenant,
poured out for you and for many
for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this, as often as you drink it,
in remembrance of me."
These words are commonly called the "words of institution," and they are universally used with the Lord's Supper.

In orthodox history, these words were held by the early church and in the centuries following to be where the bread and wine became the actual body and blood of Christ in their essence, though not in appearance. In Methodist theology, the bread remains bread and the wine (or juice) remains wine. However, like most Protestant denominations, we hold that the Words of Institution are the point at which the bread and wine become a holy meal, consecrated to, and by, our Lord.

Hence, the bread and wine taken to the homebound and sick must be consecrated by clergy beforehand or at the scene of the visit. This will normally be done during the preceding Communion service. Once a server offers Communion to the homebound or sick, it is appropriate, whether lay server or clergy, to repeat the Words of Institution there to provide a spiritual setting for the communicant and a preparation for the prayer and invocation that follows.

What to say when serving

Both clergy and lay persons utter the same words when serving the bread and wine:

1.         When offering the bread, say, “The body of Christ, given for you.” (Sometimes servers say, “broken for you,” but this is not preferable since Jesus told his disciples his body was “given.” Furthermore, John 19.36 quotes Psalm 34.20 as a prophecy of Jesus’s death, “These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: ‘Not one of his bones will be broken… .’”)

2.         When offering the cup, say, “The blood of Christ, shed for you.”

Making the visit

Call ahead before visiting. Take a Sunday bulletin for each household you will visit.

As you begin the visit:

·     Remember you are in ministry not only to the homebound or ill person, but to any family member who is also present.

·     Share greetings and introductions; share information about the church if the person shows interest.

·     After listening to the conditions and desires of the person who is sick, ask if the person desires Communion at this time. Invite the family to receive Communion also. Ask what Scripture reading s/he would like and read it, or choose a suitable one if they have no preference. It need not be a long passage – be aware that short and comforting passages are a virtue!

·     Pace the ritual with sensitivity. Be aware of the sick person's ability to follow. Adapt to each visit.

·     Try to sit with the communicant(s) at a table if possible. If not, place the Communion elements on a surface where they can be manipulated easily with little chance of mishandling. Sometimes this can be a challenge, especially in medical settings.

·     Give a small portion of the bread and wine to a person who has difficulty swallowing;  only a small particle of the bread can be taken if necessary, but do not insist. In hospital, it may be necessary only to use the sponge-stick mouth moisteners for the wine.

·     The plastic Communion cups may be discarded at the end of the visit. Unused break and wine should be taken with you when you depart to be disposed of appropriately.

Acceptance of Gifts

Occasionally, the person you visit may want you to take a gift, offering, or donation with you for the church. This can be an awkward moment.  You are not obligated to accept it so do not do so if you do not wish to. Even if willing, do not accept a large sum, even in a check.

Questions and Answers

1.  Should prayer and Communion be at the beginning or end of our time together?

There is no set rule but most people find it more comfortable to spend some time in conversation before sharing prayer and Holy Communion.

2.  What prayers do I say when I bring Holy Communion to the sick?

Consider the person's illness, pain level, tiredness, and ability to concentrate; also be considerate of others who are responding to that person's physical needs.

3.  If others are present, should I invite them to pray and receive Communion with the sick person?

Yes, others should be invited to join in prayer and receive Communion.

4.  What if the sick person is unable to swallow?

A moistening of the lips with the consecrated wine is an act of pastoral care that may be done instead.

5.  Should I receive Communion when ministering to others?

Yes. Serve yourself last.

6.  What do I do with unused bread and wine?

A common Methodist practice is to scatter unused, consecrated bread and wine onto open ground as a blessing to nature by nature’s God. A short invocation may be offered while doing so, such as, “May the grace of God abound throughout all creation,” or similar. There are no set words.

7.  What should I do if the bread is dropped or the person removes it from his/her mouth?

If no health concerns, it may be picked up and consumed. Otherwise it should be disposed of as above. Of course, if anyone declines or refuses to receive Communion, you should respect this wish.



Jesus is served

John 6.5-14 When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people t...