by: Fay Baker [ ]
Nearly everyone has heard of Operation Overlord and the landings of D-Day in Normandy, but how do you train for an operation of this size and keep it secret from the enemy? As part of the build-up to the landings, the British government set up a training ground at Slapton Sands in Lyme Bay, Devon to be used by the American military for practice as they were to land at Utah beach in Normandy.
This hard back book written by Stephen Wynn, is published by Pen and Sword Military and is priced at £19.99. Containing 136 pages, with a small section of glossy black and white photographs, also has a paper dust jacket designed by Jon Wilkinson.
The tragedy at Slapton Sands happened during a pre D-Day exercise where 749 Americans lost their lives, after a friendly fire incident and an attack by nine E boats of the German Kriegsmarine. As this event happened in April 1944, and was so close to the scheduled Operation of Overlord, secrecy was of the up most importance so very little information was released, because if the Germans had understood the importance of the vessels they had attacked then the Allied invasion of Europe would have to have been postponed for an indefinite time and as a consequence of this secrecy the story was lost.
It was only after a gentleman by the name of Ken Small discovered evidence that had been washed up from this ‘secret exercise’ at Slapton Sands in the 1970s, having explored the waters close to the beach and finding a submerged American tank, in 1974 Mr Small bought the rights to the tank, raised it in 1984 and placed it on the sea front as a lasting memorial to those who lost their lives during these two tragic events.
The list of contents is as follows:
Chapter 1 The 1938 military exercise at Slapton Sands
Chapter 2 Planning for Operation Overlord
Chapter 3 Evacuation of the area around Slapton Sands
Chapter 4 The Return of the Evacuees
Chapter 5 Exercise Tiger
Chapter 6 Deception
Chapter 7 Other Slapton Sands News
Chapter 8 Exercises Fabius, Duck and Fox
Chapter 9 E-boats
Chapter 10 Those who died on 27 April 1944
Chapter 11 Those who died on 28 April 1944
Chapter 12 The BIGOTs - Who were they?
Chapter 13 Aftermath of Exercise Tiger
Chapter 14 A soldier’s memories
Chapter 15 The Missing Men
This book is an informative piece about a tragic incident that was lost to history and how it was rediscovered. What is most poignant is the section which names those who were lost in these incidents, and how little their loved ones were told about their passing. I am hoping to go to Slapton Sands in the future, as I feel that if you have visited the landing sites in Normandy you need to see how it was prepared for.
Fay Baker takes a look at a Pen and Sword book release looking at the Slapton Sands disaster and titled 'Disaster Before D - Day Unravelling the Tragedy at Slapton Sands'.
Copyright ©2020 text by Fay Baker [ ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Model Shipwrights. All rights reserved.
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