Operation Tiger, Slapton Sands, Devon
Slapton Sands was used by the United States Army to secretly practice the Normandy landings from April 22-30, 1944. Slapton was an unspoiled beach in front of a shallow lagoon and similar to Utah Beach. The people in the nearby village were evacuated. On the 27th April troops were brought in ships from Plymouth and Brixham and transferred to landing craft to get onto the beach. As they moved up the beach around 300 died in a bombardment using live shells. This was designed to make the exercise more realistic but should have finished before the troops moved up. On the 28th, nine German E-boats out of Cherbourg evaded Allied patrols, detected the next wave of ships in Lyme Bay and attacked with torpedoes. This brief action, known as the Battle of Lyme Bay, resulted in 198 US Navy dead and missing and 441 US Army dead and missing. Far more men died during the rehearsal than at Utah beach itself. This aerial photograph was taken on the 27th and clearly shows the beach and lagoon (Slapton Ley) plus landing craft in the water and tanks on the beach. There are several barrage balloons flying. Although the casualty numbers were released in August 1944 the 2 incidents were forgotten until the 1980s when a memorial tank was placed on the beach.