Vol 31 (2011)

C.P. Stacey and the Use of Oral Testimony in the Dieppe Narratives

Tavis Harris
Wilfrid Laurier University


As the official historian for the Canadian Army in the Second World War, C.P. Stacey understood both the benefits and limitations of oral history. This is especially evident within his work on the Dieppe Narratives which shaped a portion of the Canadian Army’s Official History. Dieppe was Stacey’s first foray into report writing and though his use of oral testimony related to circumstances rather than a methodological preference and remained aware of the limitations, he nevertheless employed it throughout the narratives. It is clear that oral testimony was central to the narratives providing otherwise irretrievable pieces of information. This preliminary study examines the narratives themselves in conjunction with Stacey’s war diaries, memoirs, and other secondary sources to determine the extent to which oral testimony was used in addition to how and when it was used, especially in the case of sensitive issues involving Dieppe’s contentious legacy.