Excerpt of Chapter One – “COURAGE CONSIDERED”
The Courage of Dollard Ménard at Dieppe
At 7 a.m. on the morning of August 19, 1942, twenty six landing craft carrying men of Les Fusiliers de Mont-Royal headed into a beach obscured by the smoke of gunfire and burning ships. The regiment had been assigned as the floating reserve for the amphibious raid on Dieppe and had expected an easy landing after the first waves had secured their immediate objectives. However, as their flimsy boats came under heavy machine gun and mortar fire, they realized that something was wrong. o
On leaping out of their craft, they were greeting by sights that could have frozen many men – dead bodies awash at the waterline; landing craft beached and burning; eruptions of stone and sand from enemy shells seeking out groups of Canadian soldiers scattered over the beach. This was the hell of Dieppe early on the morning of August 19, 1942. In the next hour, the battalion’s commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Dollard Ménard, experienced all the emotions of combat and earned a decoration for courage as he led his men into that maelstrom. Later, he attempted to reflect on the experience and gain some insight about where he had found internal strength to carry out his duties in such a fearful situation.
"I suppose, now that I’ve got a medal to prove it, I’m what they call brave. But I’ve been trying to figure out just what the hell it was that made me brave – or what is called brave, anyway. The way I’ve figured it, there were four elements. The first you could call optimism, egoism, or plain thoughtlessness. The second was discipline – the training. Third, blind anger – a desire for revenge. The closest I can come to the fourth is a deep-seated feeling of “What the hell?” 
Lieutenant-Colonel Ménard believed that first of these elements brought the soldier up to the action itself – “sort of pays your busfare to the battlefield.” Like most young men going into battle for the first time, he could not imagine that he would be killed or wounded; others might be hit but he would be all right. However, as Ménard raced up the beach and through the barbed wire, he was suddenly hit in the shoulder by shrapnel, leaving him stunned and unsure of what had happened. The second element now came into play:
"All this time I was standing practically upright on a flat stretch of beach raked with fire. The second that shrapnel hit me it seemed to shut out everything else.... I think it was then that discipline and training proved strong enough to keep me going. The natural instinct of an untrained man would have been to dig a hole, crawl in and stay there with his eyes shut. But discipline and training proved strong enough to keep me going."
Ménard automatically applied a first aid dressing to his wound and then moved on, leading some of his men to outflank an enemy pillbox that was holding up the advance. While carrying out this manoeuvre under enemy fire, an officer advancing with Ménard suddenly fell to the ground, mortally wounded. When Ménard realized that there was no hope that his friend would survive, he experienced the third element which intensified his resolve– blind anger. He recalled that “it seemed to push everything else out of my head. All I wanted was to kill and get even.” But he struggled with this emotion, reminding himself: “I had to direct my unit, so I had to control this rage. But it seemed to clear my head, to make me think harder and faster.”
Ménard now resumed his advance towards the pillbox. Again he was hit by enemy fire. This time the force of the bullet’s impact threw him backwards onto a steel picket, injuring his back. Despite these wounds, he carried on, directing the men around him and they managed to capture their immediate objective. At this point, he was hit once more, this time by shrapnel in his right leg. With these injuries and loss of blood, he was unable to continue and passed out. When he later regained consciousness, he found himself being evacuated in a landing craft that was under attack by enemy aircraft. Noticing that he was lying on a crate of high explosions, he realized that
"one bullet would blow the whole works sky high but, by then I didn’t give a damn. I thought, “What the hell, if they haven’t got me by this time they’re never going to get me.” That feeling, I think, is the fourth element in what they call bravery.”
In this incident in the Second World War, Dollard Ménard has given a rare description of what men under fire must face to overcome their own emotions and carry on doing their duty. In battle, ordinary men suddenly face great danger, beyond the scale they would ever experience in normal life. Because of this, courage of a special kind arises, thus deserving recognition in all its complexity.
Seeking a Definition of Courage
The Oxford Dictionary defines courage simply as “that quality of mind which shows itself in facing danger without fear or shirking.” Although this definition implies that the courageous person should feel no fear while carrying out his act, J.L. Gallagher, a Canadian infantry officer awarded the Military Cross in the Second World War has disagreed, arguing that “in my experience, every normal person experiences fear when exposed to the violence of battle; courage is the ability to function despite the fear.” This book is a study of the courage shown in wars of the past century.
What is courage? This simple word has many meanings. In the military arena, words like “fighting spirit” or “morale” are often used to convey similar but not identical ideas. Attempting to understand the quality of courage raises questions: Can a person be fearful and courageous at the same time? When does an act rise “above the call of duty?” Does the motive of the actor affect the degree of courage shown? Who decides whether an act is courageous? While universally admired, courage is not easy to define, caught up as it is in the whole arena of human behaviour.
 Dollard Ménard and C.B. Wall, “The Meaning of Bravery” in The Canadians at War 1939/45, Volume 1 (The Reader’s Digest Association (Canada)), 1969, 196.
 Ibid., 196
 Ibid., 197
 Correspondence with J.L. Gallagher, June 2005.