Put a “Tiger in Your Tank”

slapton sandsIn 1943, as a build-up to the D-Day escalation, the British Government set up a training ground at Slapton Sands in Devon, for the Exercise Tiger campaign, which was the “code name” for one in many a series of large-scale rehearsals for the D-Day invasion of Utah Beach, in Normandy.

According to Wikipedia: Exercise Tiger was one of the larger exercises that would take place during April-May, in 1944.  On board nine large tank landing ships and 30,000 troops prepared for their mock beach landing. The landing also included a live-firing exercise. Coordination and communication problems resulted in “friendly fire” deaths during the exercise, and an allied convoy positioning itself for the landing was attacked by e-boats of the German Kriegsmarine, resulting in the deaths of 946 American servicemen. 

A local Devon resident, Ken Small, whom I met at Slapton Sands Beach, in 2000, bought the rights to his discovered and submerged tank from the 70th Tank Battalion, back in 1984. Sadly, Ken died of cancer in March, 2004, a few weeks before the 60th anniversary of the Exercise Tiger incident. His son Dean is seeking to establish a more prominent memorial listing  for the names of all the victims of the attacks on Exercise Tiger. Go Tiger!

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