D-Day rehearsal Which Killed 600 Soldiers
Also known as Operation Tiger
It was a wet gloomy and in a coastline in English channel British and American troops were landing under heavy artillery fire. Losses from the landing allied side were mounting, but the arrival didn’t stop. The action is not the D day landing, which happened in the Normandy beaches in June 1944 but a rehearsal to D day landing, which killed more than 600 men in friendly fire.
D day landing was the largest amphibious ever attempted by any army in the world. The Allied army needed to check the feasibility and causality in case of such a landing attempt. To check the landing idea, Slapton Sands along the coast of British islands were selected for the exercise as they are similar to the Normandy beaches. The activity planned from 22 April to 30 April 1944.
Three thousand residents of Slapton evacuated so to safeguard the secrecy of the mission. On 27 April the first lading on the Lyme Bay on Slapton Sands was planned to start. General Eisenhower wanted to have live fire from the defensive position to check the landing possibilities in a real case. The landing was supposed to begin at 7:30 but was delayed by an hour to 8:30. This delay was not communicated properly, ensuring one batch of landing troops landed without any firing. The second batch met with fierce fire from a defensive position resulting in the killing of at least 400 soldiers.
The next day on 28 April a second landing attempt was conducted with Landing aircraft, Cargo ships under the protection of two navy vessels. All went fine until four German E Boats came in and sabotaged the formation. Unfortunately, only one navy vessel was available, and the second was damaged and sent to Plymouth for repair. E boats caused havoc sinking many of the landing craft. E boats left off after reinforcements arrived, but the damage was done. Three hundred more soldiers died on this day for D Day rehearsal.
The actual D day landing was about to get canceled as bodies of 10 officers were not found the next day. The allied forces thought if the Germans caught the officers, they might spill beans on the actual D day landing planned. The bodies recovered in a few days and D day went as planned.
The rehearsal found gaps in allied planning:
- The radiofrequency between American and British troops were different. After the rehearsal, it fixed as same frequency
- Better life jackets for the soldiers
- Better crafts to rescue soldiers stuck in the water
The entire exercise was classified and sworn into secrecy as it might let the German know that an allied landing is happening in Normandy. It was after 40 years that discovery of a Sherman tank in Lyme Bay, which made the exercise come into the limelight.
The D day rehearsal did help in reducing the casualties in real D day landing, but we need to restore the honor of the soldiers who lost their lives in the D day rehearsal by acknowledging the event