Slapton Sands training area and Exercise Tiger

AddressSlapton Sands - Monument, Kingsbridge, Devon TQ7 2TQ, UK
Location typeOther
AccessPublic Access
Site Ownership and Access InformationThe beach is open to the public, with a monument and memorial located along different parts of the beach.
Contact detailsJohn Casson (Chairman, general enquiries) Tel: +44 07971 082868

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Slapton Sands was one of several large areas around the UK that were used for major rehearsals for D-Day, where large numbers of troops could land on the beach and all branches of the armed forces could work together and practice their roles in the operation. One of these rehearsals was Exercise Tiger. The whole exercise was planned to be on a big scale – thousands of troops were meant to land under live fire – ordered by Eisenhower to make it as realistic as possible – and their landing ships were escorted by a small flotilla of naval ships headed by two destroyers. The first actual landings took place on April 27th 1944. These were successful. However, a major disaster occurred in the early hours of April 28th that resulted in hundreds of deaths.

A convoy of Landing Craft, Ships (LST) left to take part in the landing at Slapton Sands. In the early hours of April 28th, nine German E-Boats (fast moving torpedo boats) spotted the eight landing ships in Lyme Bay that were sailing in a line and therefore made for an inviting target. The E-boats had been spotted by a Royal Navy corvette, HMS Azalea, but the captain assumed that the landing craft had also spotted them and did not directly inform them of the presence of E-boats.

Three ships were hit; LST 507 caught fire and was abandoned. LST 289 caught fire but made it to the shore. LST 531 was hit and quickly sank. It is believed that at least 750 American Soldiers died during the attack, which is more than what died during the actual Landing on Utah Beach.

Details of the tragic event were not known for at least another 40 years as all those who witnessed the event or witnessed the aftermath were sworn to secrecy and local residents (3,000 people) had been evacuated in the previous year to clear them of any danger.

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