The Raid at Dieppe, France holds a unique place in the history of WWII. Originally conceived as Operation Rudder, the raid was supposed to accomplish several key objectives. As orignally planned the raid would involve 5,000 British, Canadian, and American landing troops, parachute drops behind enemy lines, tanks, naval gunfire support and use of RAF bombers.

From its inception the raid was plagued with problems. The raid was postponed when a German air patrol spotted the transport ships. The British navy was stretched to thin to provide the support initially intended. Fifty American Rangers were added to the assault force mere days before the launch of the raid. They had had no time to coordinate or train for the mission. Landing craft were in short supply, and crews were not properly coordinated.

And so the raid was an unmitigated disaster. Over half of the assault force was killed, wounded, or captured. Of the fifty American rangers involved, three were killed, three were captured, and five were severly wounded. 

As with the fanous beaches at Normandy, site of the D Day landings, there are somber monuments at Dieppe commemorating the tragedy. And now, for forty years, laughter instead of gunfire is the sounds heard on the beach. And colorful kites instead of warbirds soar on the blue skies.

Every second September the beach is transformed into the site of a gala celebration with the Dieppe International Kite Festival. The festival sprawls across acres of manicured lawn and along the beach.

As attendance often exceeds 500,000 kite enthusiasts and spectators from all over the world, it might be the largest kite festival in the world. At last years festival kites from forty countries took part in the extravaganza

A highlight of the festival is the Sunday parade of kites. It is a cultural experience as participants march in the parade wearing traditional costumes from their homeland.

The festival is organized as a fun filled family festival. Children’s Day at the festival often includes first flights for teddy bears, a wind maze to challenge youg kite flying enthusiasts, and the realese of colorful balloon.

Closing events are a sight to behold. The centerpiece is a light show feautring hundreds of illuminated kites. The infectious magic of the ceremony is an ideal way to wrap up a kite festival of epic proportions.

If the Dieppe International Kite Festival piques your interest, there is no time like the present to begin planning your adventure. And of course for the novice or seasoned kite enthusiast, the seasonal breezes in the Colorado River Valley are ideally suited to hone your kite flying skills. As a bonus Bullhead City, Arizona is home to Tumbleweeds and Tarantulas, your one stop kite shop that offers online shopping with Ebay and Amazon.

Written by Jim Hinckley of Jim Hinckley’s America