Last update: 28 January 2023 - Dernière mise-à-jour: 28 janvier 2023
John Dehler (Photo UK National Archives) - Notre-Dame Cemetery Monument in Ottawa (Photo Personal Collection)
Lieutenant John Dehler (1919-1991)
SOE Spy/Agent & Radio Operator (World War 2)
This site is dedicated to the memory of John (Harold McDougal) Dehler.
John Dehler was born on 6 April 1919 in Ottawa. He studied at LaSalle Academy and Lisgar Collegiate both in Ottawa - he also undertook studies at St-Patrick's College in Fine Arts but, before he could finish with his degree, he joined the Canadian Army, more specifically the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals on 4 September 1939. Roy McLaren in his book seems to suggest that John Dehler and Lucien Durocher knew each other while in Ottawa before the war. In early December 1939, three months after they had enlisted, they were on their way to Great Britain as members of the advance units of the First Canadian Division. They were also both with the Canadian brigade sent to Spitzbergen in August 1941 - from June 1943 to early 1944 they were wireless operators with battalion and headquarters in Sicily and Italy. From there, they were recruited by the UK’s Strategic Operations Executive (S.O.E.) and sent to Algeria for accelerated training such as sabotage, small arms, and clandestine wireless communications.
John Dehler then went on to serve behind enemy lines as an agent in France as radio operator for the Strategic Operations Executive (SOE) during WW2.
He was dropped on 7 August 1944 as part of Operation STYLE near the town of Mirepoix (in the Ariege region) between Carcassone and the Spanish frontier.
Operation STYLE was to form a joint Allied French mission - John Dehler's mission was to ensure W/T communication between his team and S.O.E. headquarters.
His codename was HIBOU and he arranged for supply drops in such quantities that the local resistance was able to take the offensive against German
garrisons, killing or capturing two thousand. He returned from France in late 1944.
While in England in WW2 on the 11th of July 1942, he married Sally Freda Still (from Cobham, Surrey) and they had a son John and a daughter Sally. He passed away circa 15 January
1991 - here is his obituary
as it appeared in the 17 January 1991 edition of the Ottawa Citizen.
Thanks to access to John Dehler's S.O.E. file with the UK National Archives, here are some letters of commendation/merit for John Dehler:
In addition thanks to the UK National Archives, here is a self-written biography (in French) by John's hand during his stay with SOE in the UK (likely in 1944):
The main sources of information for John Dehler are from the following:
If you ever wish to visit John Dehler's burial site, it is located at Notre-Dame Cemetery in Ottawa - that cemetery is located near the
intersection of Montreal Road and St-Laurent Boulevard.
- John Dehler S.O.E. file from the UK National Archives;
- The booklet "Uncommon Courage"
- available online from Veterans Affairs (Canada - 1985 - ISBN 0-662-54053-0);
- The book "Canadians Behind Enemy Lines" by Roy MacLaren (1981 - ISBN 0-7748-0147-6) with
page 124 being of specific interest;
- The book "A Most Ungentlemanly Way of War: The SOE and the Canadian Connection" by Colonel Bernd Horn (2016 - ISBN: 978-1-4597-3279-7).
- Friendly and meaningful discussion with Sally Tindale (John Dehler's daughter) during a phone conversation on 3 February 2020.
If you have questions or suggestions, please email Richard at his firstname.lastname@example.org email address.
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