Doug Gilling - The Dieppe Raid
Department of Veterans' Affairs
The operation started at about day break, in August, it would have been around about three or four o'clock in the morning day break. And we were actually part of trying to get the troops back off the beach, back into the transports, when we were bombed by a Dornier.
I always reckon that our captain had been a pretty good cricketer, because all the morning, every time it appeared to be bombed fairly frequently. He would just look up into the sky and say, "Hard to starboard", and go hard to starboard and the bomb would fall down there, port, and the other bomb would fall down there. I think he must have been having a cup of tea at the end, he wasn't there and he missed the catch, or he got the catch.
Well it didn't go down immediately. They hang around for a while but as I say I was lucky enough to be on the after four inch gun turret, and the bomb actually hit just forward of the bridge and wiped out the whole of the forward gun turret. So life and death is the difference between forward and aft as far as I'm concerned, and that really mirrors what life is really about, it's such a thing of chance.
I'm aware of the captain coming to the fringe of the deck, looking aft and just going like that. So as the ship was already at about that angle anyway, and I was down here, I didn't have very far to go to step into the sea. And that didn't seem to worry me terribly much, because being an Australian, at least you could swim, which is more than most of the others could do. Most of them couldn't swim so they relied on their life jackets, just to keep them afloat. And that's one of the great differences between the two nationalities, and in actual fact, out of a ships company of about 150, about a hatful of them could swim. It seemed fairly basic to me if you go to sea, it might be a good idea to learn to swim before you took it up. But that was so. And so then I was picked up in an assault landing craft, one of the smallest landing crafts, which had obviously been ordered to come to us, to pick up survivors.