Operation Tiger Memorial

Posted: March 6, 2019 in Devon, History, UK
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The Operation Tiger memorial stands on Slapton Sands in South Devon.

Operation Tiger took place in late April 1944. It was part of the preparations for the D-Day landings. American Landing craft left from ports on the south coast laden with tanks and men.

The Naval escort, the Destroyer HMS Scimitar, was meant to shield the landing craft from seaward attack, but unfortunately, it developed a fault and never left port. The command of the exercise was unaware of this and the landing craft continued towards Lyme Bay and Slapton Sands, which had been chosen due to its similarity to ‘Utah’ beach in Normandy.

As they entered Lyme Bay, 4 German E-boats attached. The landing craft had little or no defensive firepower. 3 landing craft were sunk and one was badly damaged by the combined torpedo and gun attack. The E-boats having completed their attack left the bay and shortly afterwards a Royal Navy ship HMS Onslow arrived and together with one of the undamaged landing craft began rescuing survivors from the stricken vessels.

639 soldiers and sailors lost their lives that day, yet nothing was said. The survivors were threatened with court-marshall if they spoke about the tragedy. It would be many years before the story of Operation Tiger came out and the Sherman tank memorial would be realised. It was raised from the sea in 1984. By the 50th anniversary in 1994 the full story was beginning to fully emerge and the families of those who had died finally found out what had happened to their relatives.

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