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Barrie residents honour soldiers from Dieppe Raid on 81st anniversary

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Saturday marks 81 years since the Dieppe Raid in Northern France on Aug. 19, 1942. Over 900 Canadian soldiers were killed, and thousands were wounded and taken prisoner.

Jayne Turvey of Barrie tells CTV News that her father was taken prisoner in 1942 during the raid.

 Before he passed away in 2005, Turvey made a promise to him.

"A day before he died, I said I am going to continue telling the story so that these men are not just found in a history book," she said.

In 2016, Turvey started a project called "Dieppe Blue Beach - Everyman Remembered." She'd been working tirelessly on it ever since.

"The idea was to find a photo and a bio for every single pan who landed at Puys during the Dieppe Raid," Turvey said.

Turvey planned a 14-day trip to Dieppe with stops along England, Poland and France to honour the soldiers.

"We followed in the footsteps of the Royal Regiment of Canada and we read everybody's name on the beach. We did a little bit of a service and wreath laying. We poured a little toast to the men, which was really moving. We went to the cemetery and placed photos and flags on every grave of the Royal Regiment," said Turvey.

Twenty-three people, including Donald and Susan Parker of Barrie, went on this trip.

"It was very, very emotional. One of the highlights for me was being in Dieppe, the beach and the ceremony and, of course, going from there to the graves," said Donald.

"We were on the ferry from England, but we all stood on the bridge of the boat, and we came into Dieppe the same way that those men would have come across the channel back in 1942. So, that was very emotional," said Susan.

Donald's father was shot in the face, but after many surgeries performed by a German plastic surgeon, he survived. The family is now trying to track down his relatives.

"The one thing that we have been trying to find… the plastic surgeon that operated on Don's Dad somewhere in the neighbourhood 15 to 20 times over that time sent him a letter after the war. We have one of the original letters, and he wanted to know how Don's Dad was doing. He was glad that he was happy with his work. We're trying to track down some of his family," said Susan Parker.

As for Turvey, she wants the Dieppe Raid never to be forgotten.

"Dieppe is always put to the back burner, and I feel that we owe these men to at least remember what they went through," she said.

Turvey has started putting a book together with each man's photo and bio so that each family affected can have a lifelong memory and continue sharing this story. 

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