Saturday, 7 June 2014

441 - D-Day: June 6th 1944

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
The memorial US Sherman tank, dredged up from Torcross by locals in 1984.
[Edit: this post was meant to go up yesterday - no idea why it didn't. Grrrr.]

If any of my readers are unfamiliar with Exercise Tiger, you may be interested in following the link below. It was a D-Day training disaster which happened just down the road from us here in April '44 and almost 1000 servicemen (mostly American) died in a combination of E-Boat attacks and friendly-fire. It was 'conveniently forgotten' for forty years afterwards. [link]

You can see why they chose Torcross. Here it is today:
And here, from the air - as you can see, Slapton Sands is a shingle/sand mix about two miles wide... it's also only about 60 miles from Normandy.

The red line shows the villages that were evacuated for the troops and manoeuvres in the run-up to D-Day. I live and work a half-dozen miles to the left.
One of the landing craft at Slapton of the kind that was sunk by the E-boats.
Practising landings in Devon.
 I'm actually from Portsmouth - I have fond and powerful memories of the '94  events marking the 50th Anniversary of D-Day (my brother, for example, waited on the top table, so he got to serve The Queen and Clinton, amongst others). It's in my blood, and as such I've felt really isolated from the apparently excellent commemoration events that have been happening down there over the last couple of days.

Apparently a couple of planes with invasion stripes flew over the school yesterday, but I was teaching, alas, and missed them.

The anticipated schedule will briefly resume after this weekend...but then I'm back to grading papers for the next fortnight.

Yours, in remembrance,

- D.


  1. Sending you a handshake from across the pond, Drax.

  2. I was oblivious of this until now. What a horrid affair. Sad that brave souls who should have been at Normandy were thwarted by their own.

    Thanks mate, a very good tribute.

    1. A deliberate oblivion, sadly.

      Still, at least the things that went wrong - which were mostly down to a lack of communication between the Royal Navy and the US forces (including - bafflingly, so it sems now - not properly agreeing or synchronising radio frequencies, which left the convoy essentially blind) were things that were got right for D-Day itself.

      A terrible and steep learning experience, but than goodness they ireoned so much out.

      Thanks for swinging by...

  3. Another thing which seems criminally negligent to us now is the land forces using yellow smoke to mark friendly positions and bomber command using it for targets.

  4. I was unaware of Operation Tiger and found it a fascinating, though heartbreaking read. But as you said, better to have learned those lessons on a smaller scale than have things like that happen during Operation Overlord.

    I live in Portsmouth though was sadly working all during the commemorations, however I did not miss everything. I work at a bar right on the waterfront at Gunwharf Quays, and spent much of the weekend watching the ships sail in and out of the harbour, and caught some sights of the Red Arrows display. I missed the invasion stripes flypast on the day, but I did see several practice flypasts in the week running up to the event. You missed quite a show, it has been an impressive weekend.

    1. Cheers, mate. Just spoke to my dad, and he's keeping all the supplements for me!

      Will you be around in the summer? If so, I'll try to drop you an email in the hope of maybe meeting up. You play on Mondays, right?

  5. Drax, I missed all my hometown commemorations too, being at sea fighting the good fight. I was recently (last year) down Slapton Sands at that very tank. The D-Day Museum in Portsmouth has another Sherman and a Cromwell plus Flak Gun and a great set of displays as well as the D-Day taspestry - like the Bayeux Tapestry but with tanks...


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