Sunday, 15 February 2009

Exercise Tiger

Exercise Tiger is the code name of an exercise carried out in 1944 where a full scale rehersal of the D-Day landings was carried out in southern England. In fact there were two military exercises called Exercise Tiger in World War Two, the first was in May 1942 where General Montgomery used 100,000 Allied troops in the exercise in the UK.

The Exercise Tiger of 1944 was actually an eight day practice in the run up to the D-Day Normandy landings so all troops knew what they were doing but for all accounts it was a great failure.

The exercise was carried out over April and May in 1944 at Slapton Sands in South Devon. Prior to the exercise the British government gave notice and cleared 3,000 inhabitants from the local village of Slapton. Many of these inhabitants had never even left the village before.

To protect the exercise area the Royal Navy had two destroyers, two motor gun boats and three motor torpedoe boats were stationed out in the sea, but this protection could not stop what happened on the second day of the exercise, the 28th April.

On the second day a group of German E-Boats spotted and attacked a group of eight ships carrying vehicles using torpedoes . One of these ships was abandoned because of fire, another was sank and a third limped back while on fire and badly damaged.

In total over six hundred U.S personnel died in the exercise because of the E-Boat attack, the majority being from the U.S Army and the rest being from the U.S Navy.

It is believed that a coverup happened after the rehersal so that no one was aware of the deaths that occured and that the D-Day landings would be protected.

A local man, the late Kevin Small bought the rights from the U.S Government to a Sherman tank that was sunk during the E-Boat attacks of the Exercise Tiger rehersals. Mr Small, with the aid of locals, managed to bring the tank to the surface and it now sits on the road behind Slapton Sands beach as a memorial to those that died in the exercise.

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