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Dec. 21, 2021

Where Did Exercise Tiger Go Wrong?

Where Did Exercise Tiger Go Wrong?

Exercise Tiger was the code name for one of a series of large-scale D-Day invasion of Normandy tests that took place in April 1944 at Slapton Sands, Devon. Slapton's pristine pebble beach, facing a shallow freshwater ley supported by grasslands, seemed ideal for US troops to simulate test landings for the launch of Operation Overlord on June 6, 1944, landing on D-Day at Utah Beach, France. The area around Slapton Sands was chosen for this exercise because it closely resembled parts of the French coast, the site chosen for the largest naval invasion of the war: the Normandy landings.

Slapton Sands was selected for the exercise because it was similar to the Normandy coastline (codenamed Utah Beach) where Normandy landed. In the early morning of April 28, 1944, eight LST heavy ships (designed to transport troops, supplies, and vehicles including tanks) gathered in Lyme Bay near the Slapton Sands for a tiger exercise. However, four well-equipped German E-boats with fast tanks were warned by intensive radio communications and intercepted the fleet, firing torpedoes and machine guns. The next day, nine German electronic ships accidentally spotted an exercise while passing through Lyme Bay and opened fire on the simulated invasion fleet, killing 749 people.

The attack, which took place during a dress rehearsal for the Allied landings in Normandy, claimed the lives of hundreds of people. On April 27, 1944, over 400 of them were killed by friendly artillery fire on the beach due to a timing error.

The American ships had no idea that German ships were shooting at them until it was too late. Allied confusion escalated into panic shortly after 2 a.m. when a torpedo from a German electronic boat crashed into the side of an American amphibious assault ship named LST-507. The explosion ignited the LST, killing dozens of soldiers and forcing others to abandon the ship. But the electronic boats in the dark swooped down on the drilling rig and in a few minutes destroyed two landing craft fueled with gasoline and explosives, which were carrying hundreds of people.

Eisenhower and the rest of the officers hoped for a more orderly landing on April 28, when a second wave of engineers and auxiliary troops from the 7th Corps approached the coast in a convoy of eight landing ships. But the exercise became a deadly trap when a group of nine German torpedo boats operating from France collided with eight LSTs (landing ships, tanks) of a T-4 convoy shortly after 2 am. The next day, nine German electronic boats, without warning, crashed into Allied amphibious assault ships in the unprotected rear of a slowly moving convoy. The second British ship to accompany them - a World War I destroyer - suffered minor hull damage a few hours earlier and was detained in port.

But the absence of Germans on the coast contradicts the presence of Germans on the water. The British ship Azalea received information about German ships, but it is recommended that the US LST receive similar information and take precautions. In addition, due to an error in the sequence of operations, American ships were tuned to the wrong radio frequency, so the British warning about German ships never reached them. 

Soldiers carrying their heavy equipment in backpacks did not receive adequate training in the use of life jackets and drowned. Once in the water, many of the soldiers soon drowned under the weight of wet clothes and equipment. Without proper instructions on how to use life jackets, many drowned under the weight of their bulky combat gear. This turned the people in front and made the porters face and chest under the water. 

Allied commanders initially feared that the officers who disappeared as a result of the attack might end up in the hands of the Germans, where they could reveal the intentions of the Allies to land in Normandy. When the news reached the Allied commanders, they were very worried that so many lives had been lost, especially the missing officers who, if in German hands, had plans that would reveal the Allied intentions to land troops in Normandy. But to ensure the safety of their people and the effectiveness of all exercises, the Allied command had to keep the operation a secret, even for their own people. Operation Tiger was such a disaster that Allied forces silenced it. 

More than 600 employees died during the Tiger exercise, the D-Day test on April 28, 1944, but the failed operation was hidden for decades and only surfaced 40 years later when a hotel owner discovered the lost Sherman tank. train at the bottom of the sea and pull it ashore. More than 1,200 Allied soldiers were killed in two days in the Slapton Sands area of ​​Devon - a disaster that the authorities have hidden for decades. The full story of what happened is still unknown, but in the days following the night of April 28, 1944, the corpses of hundreds of young American soldiers were washed away along the entire coast of Lime Bay. 

The U.S. military publicly acknowledged the casualties of the Tigers in the months following D-Day, but this story was covered up by the news of the Allied invasion of Western Europe, and it is still little known today. However, the Army’s indicators did not mention the mass deaths of the Americans on April 28, 1944. The Tiger exercise was supposed to be declassified in early August 1944, two months after landing in Normandy, but the families of the army and navy soldiers assigned to the Tiger exercise were told not to mention the events surrounding the disaster. For nearly 40 years after the end of the war, Operation Tiger has remained a secret.

This is the first of these-Tiger Exercise-after landing on D-Day, it turned into a mess that has been kept secret for 30 years. This should be a rehearsal for Operation Overlord, code-named "Tiger Exercise," and this section of the Devon Coast proved to be an ideal training ground for the troops responsible for landing on Utah Beach. It was selected for its similarity to the area between Puppéville and La Madeleine in northern France (codenamed Utah Beach), where the British government subsequently established a training ground for the American "U" forces responsible for landing in Utah . Two British ships, the destroyer HMS Scimitar and the frigate HMS Azalea, will defend the area. 

Along with one British corvette, the flotilla consisted of eight American amphibious assault ships, or LSTs, each filled to the brim with soldiers from the US 7th Corps. On the afternoon of April 27, 1944, thousands of American soldiers began boarding eight LSTs (landing tanks) at Plymouth and Brixham in preparation for the dress rehearsal for Landing Day at Slapton Sands Beach. The exercises were held from 22 to 30 April 1944 and began with the sorting and disembarkation of troops on the LST (landing tanks) - an assault ship with a flat-bottomed bottom with a displacement of four thousand and a half tons, capable of carrying several hundred people, trucks, etc. tanks) near the south- west coast of England. 

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