Slapton Sands memorial to the US Soldiers who lost their lives during the D-Day Practice Landings, 1944 (small images)
Sherman Tank at Torcross and Memorial on the beach at Slapton.
This Sherman tank is "a memorial to the 946 American soldiers and Sailors who died needlessly in one of the great fiascos of World War II". These are the words of Ken Small, a local man, who devoted 18 years of his life to uncovering the story of Exercise Tiger: - part of the D-Day Landing rehearsals. 30,000 US troops occupied the South Hams for almost a year after 750 families had been forcibly evacuated, along with their animals and farm possessions.
The families returned to widespread distruction. For many years exactly what had happened remained a mystery. Ken Small resolved to discover the truth. Initially he met with a the wall of silence from the military survivors. The establishment was less than enthusiastic in response to any request for information and all log books appeared to have been lost. Ken Small finally pieced together the story of what happened on that dreadful night.
Exercise Tiger had been a shambles. This third landing simulation used live amunition: a decision many troops were unaware of until colleagues died beside them. A typographical error in orders ensured that the US forces and the British forces were using different radio frequencies. The Landing Ships and Tanks (LSTs) also came under a surprise attack from the Germans.
Ken's painstaking work culminated in a very special service of commemoration on Friday 9th November 1984, attended by Lieutenant Colonel Tom Haase, the assistant military attache from the US embassy in London.
To this day American and British survivors and relatives arrive at Slapton to see for themselves where their loved ones died. Until his recent death Ken personally welcomed them all. His book "The Forgotten Dead" tells the story in considerable detail of this great tragedy of World War II.
"The Forgotten Dead" by Ken Small - ISBN : 0747575436. This book is sold in the local shops, who may or may not be willing to post worldwide. Regretfully, we do not provide this service although we are always willing to assist when politely requested.
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