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D-Day Cover-up or Training Tragedy?

Written by on Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

The date was 28 April 1944; the skies were dark on a moonless night and eight Landing Ship, Tank (LSTs) were filled with sailors and soldiers off the coast of England preparing for the largest training event ever organized in preparation for an upcoming invasion on the beaches of Normandy. Exercise Tiger, as the training evolution was called and its eventual loss of 749 American lives has been called a D-Day cover-up by some or was it a training tragedy that was initially buried by American Generals to protect the plans for the Normandy invasion.

With every large force training exercise there is a certain amount of risk but conducting a training exercise within reach of enemy forces can certainly add a whole new level of risk. After the 4th Division Infantry forces disembarked on the English beaches the plan was for support soldiers and sailors to continue the “invasion” by using the LSTs to complete the training evolution just like they would do during the actual invasion. After receiving significant chatter on radios via passive detection systems, German torpedo boats slipped thru an English picket and launched multiple torpedoes against three LST ships. Of the three hit by torpedoes, one was able to limp to port while another was engulfed in fire and the third was hit so severely that it sunk within six minutes. Many of the soldiers and sailors were killed instantly and others endured the wounds of the fire or were stuck beneath the decks as the vessels sunk to the bottom of the English Channel. Although a rescue attempt was launched, many drowned immediately or became incapacitated due to hypothermia from the frigid waters.

 

Of the 749 lives lost off the shore of Slapton Sands, ten individuals had detailed knowledge of the upcoming invasion of Normandy and all efforts were expended to insure the bodies of all ten were accounted for due to concerns that they had fallen into German hands and the potential that the upcoming landing would be compromised. With the upcoming invasion close at hand, General Eisenhower chose to keep the press from the tragedy until after the invasion.

Many have claimed that General Eisenhower was responsible for the D-Day Cover-up but records would indicate otherwise as he issued a press release of the tragedy in July 1944 and it was covered in the Stars and Stripes at about the same time. Historically there was no D-Day Cover-up but merely an attempt to manage operational security to protect the lives of thousands on the beaches of Normandy at the expense of withholding information for three months.

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