By the summer of 1944, there had been a significant change in the situation in all theaters of operations. The situation of fascist Germany deteriorated sharply. Soviet troops won major victories over the Wehrmacht in the Crimea and in Right-Bank Ukraine. In Italy, Allied forces entrenched themselves to the south of Rome, and a real opportunity was created to land American-British troops in France. In such conditions, the American and British military commanders began to prepare for the landing of troops in southern France (known as "Anvil") and in Northern France ("Overlord"). In preparation for the upcoming invasion of Normandy, which was planned for early June, the Allies decided to “carefully” rehearse all their actions. To get as close as possible to the real world, the venue of one of the training operations, dubbed the "Tiger", was part of the coast of England near the town of Stokenham, which, in particular, was very similar to the infamous Utah Beach. There was exactly the same landscape and pebbled beach.
Before the start of the exercise, the population of a little more than three thousand people was evacuated from the settlements located in the area of operations, and they declared the territory of the district as a quarantine zone for reasons of conspiracy without explaining any reasons. The military leadership of the allied forces (and commanded by the rear admiral of the American army Don Pardi Moon by the 22 of 30 on April X-NUMX) provided for every detail, carefully ignoring a number of important factors, but more on that later. The list of leaders of this disastrous and shameful operation for both parties involved was the name of Dwight Eisenhower, who at that time was an army general. Perhaps it was the secrecy of the exercises, as well as its sad results that later allowed this man to be elected to the presidency of the country, despite the mistakes he personally made, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of American and British soldiers. If the details of Operation Tiger were publicized at one time, then Eisenhower would hardly have seen the White House from the inside, people should not forgive their leaders for such missteps.
The Normandy operation was attended by American, British and Canadian troops (they included ten elite squads - the American "Ranges" and English "commandos"), as well as Polish troops, subordinate to the government that emigrated to London, and French units, represented by the Committee for National Liberation. The general management of the landing of air and sea landing on the coast was carried out by Dwight Eisenhower. In Operation Overlord, the allied forces were superior to the opposing German units: in terms of the number of soldiers and tanks three times, for guns twice, for planes - sixty times. The operation began on June 6, 1944 at dawn. Under the guise of naval artillery and aviation naval landing landed in five places along the coast in Normandy, the German fleet failed to provide decent resistance. By the end of the first day, the Allied forces in Normandy captured three sections from two to ten kilometers deep. At the same time, about six thousand people died, even more were wounded and shell-shocked. As a result of the entire operation, which allowed the Allies to take a foothold on the mainland, one hundred twenty-two thousand soldiers of the British, American, Canadian and other allied armies died (the total number of invasion forces reached one million people). The losses of the Germans were actually the same - one hundred seventeen thousand people.
Problems at the exercises began even before leaving the port of loading, when it became clear that after receiving damage from a barge the day before, one of the corvettes of the HMS Skimitar cover that was supposed to accompany the amphibious convoy would not be able to take part in the operation. The communication between the British and the Americans was carried out at different frequencies, and the lack of proper coordination of actions and timely notification of any problems that arose led the convoy leaders to know about this problem before leaving. But it was still flowers. No one ventured to cancel such an important operation and take responsibility for the delay, and therefore it was decided to continue the exercises. On the evening of April 27, the convoy, which included eight amphibious assault ships of the LST type (tank landing ships) and the HMS Azalea escort frigate in front, sailed from the port of loading. Arrival at the destination was planned for the morning of 28. Returning back, it should be noted that the cover ship, which remained in the port in Plymouth, was built in WWI, and therefore could hardly have significantly influenced the situation that had developed due to its low maneuverability. Anyway, the convoy was covered only in front, and its rear part remained completely open. And since the ships were going, stretching out into a long chain that stretched to the very horizon, the front vessel of the cover simply did not have time to respond quickly in the event of an emergency. The military leadership wanted the soldiers to feel for themselves what sea-roll was and also learned how to navigate in the conditions of a storm when disembarking. At the same time, they simply closed their eyes to the elementary security of the fighters.
For clarity, it should be clarified that the exercises for the landing on the coast proceeded along the same lines. First, the arriving ships lined up along the coast, and shelling of the enemy, who allegedly was on the coast, began. Then they proceeded directly to the landing, the second line of ships leading the shelling of enemy territory over the heads of soldiers advancing on the ground was supposed to cover them. And, of course, the men put on all their ammunition in advance, which was quite heavy and significantly reduced their mobility.
Allied plans were disrupted by a surprise attack by a German patrol on the late night of April 28. Out on the “hunt” of the French harbor in the evening of April 27, nine high-speed and highly maneuverable boats were under the command of German officer Günther Rabe. The British radars, as it became known later, found the German boats in advance, but due to the elementary lack of a well-established communication system, information about their presence in the neighboring area simply did not reach the convoy’s leadership on time. As a result, German ships freely entered the canal and moved towards Lyme Bay, at two in the morning, to their surprise, stumbled upon American ships. In poor visibility conditions, the enemy patrol identified the ships as English minesweepers. Without thinking twice, the Germans, from a distance of two kilometers, torpedoed the ships on the way from the rear of the uncovered flank.
The first two torpedoes were hit by an LST 531, which immediately tilted and sank within ten minutes. The people who were on board did not even have the opportunity to come to their senses and navigate the situation. Caught off guard, the soldiers panicked and jumped overboard along with all their ammunition. As a result, they were not helped even by the presence of life jackets, under the weight weapons and other uniforms, they turned upside down in water. Much later, the reason for this will be announced by the uneven distribution of the load on the fighters and the improper use of life jackets. In the confusion, only twenty-seven people managed to catch alive from the first sunken ship, four hundred twenty-four people died. The situation with the second wrecked ship LST 507 looked a little less dramatic, and after the torpedo hit it remained buoyant for some time, despite the fire. However, two hundred and two passengers disappeared as a result of the accident.
In the meantime, the battle continued. The transport ships began to shoot back, not allowing the Germans to attack. As a result, in the thick of battle, the third ship LST 511 was hit by friendly fire, and the fascists, not daring to try their luck anymore, dissolved in the dark, returning to the base in Cherbourg. Just before leaving, the German patrol also managed to damage another (fourth) ship with a torpedo - LST 289. Despite the direct hit of the torpedo in the bow and serious damage from the explosion, which killed twelve people, the ship was able to independently get to the shore. Eyewitnesses of the incident, recalling that night, with a shudder talk about the terrible picture that opened up to their eyes after shelling the column by a German patrol. In the pitch darkness, hundreds of people floundering in the water, unsuccessfully trying to get out.
Despite the huge number of victims and the scale of the operation, the American and British authorities somehow managed to silence all witnesses to the events and hide the fact of the disgraceful failure of some of the most important teachings of World War II. Officially, no one from the leadership of both countries decided to tell about the victims of Operation Tigr, since this would mean admitting all the mistakes made by the ruling circles that tarnish their impeccable reputation. From the medical staff who assisted the wounded after the April 28 incident, they took a non-disclosure subscription for as many as forty years! Many of the participants in the teachings, who went through hell, were tormented by nightmares about that night.
Information about the operation was officially declassified only in the 1986 year. However, due to the death of most eyewitnesses, information about this event is very contradictory. According to one source, off Dorset during Operation Tiger, the dress rehearsal for the landing of troops in Normandy, slightly more than seven hundred people died - US Navy sailors, soldiers and officers of the US Army. According to other information, the losses amounted to almost a thousand people. In addition, the bodies of many soldiers missing. It is also outrageous that after such a “slaughter” the military leadership was not so much concerned about the wounded and the dead as about the opportunity to keep a secret about the upcoming operation “Overlord”. Information about the upcoming offensive in Normandy had ten missing during the training of officers. To determine their whereabouts and exclude the possibility of the Germans seizing important American information, the corpses laid out on the coast were examined and identified. But to the universal "satisfaction" of the authorities, all the guardians of the great mystery were found among the dead.
In the seventies and eighties of the last century, a certain sensational history buff Ken Small (Ken Small) was engaged in a detailed study of the events of the end of April 1944, who managed to get to know some of the details of the "unfortunate teachings", despite the fact that all American and British official agencies , to which he applied, refused to help the researcher. The only step to meet the person who wished to restore justice and perpetuate the memory of every dead serviceman was the right to extract the American tank M4 Sherman, who lay at the bottom of the ill-fated bay and found only in 1974 year. This trophy was lifted out of the water and installed as a monument on the beach ten years later, in 1984, as a reminder of that event. On the same day, a memorial ceremony was held at the landing site, which was attended by representatives of the British and American defense ministries, as well as WWII veterans.
Among the witnesses to the tragedy who remained silent for decades was the English pilot Pete Neville, who accidentally witnessed the Germans' attack on a convoy from the side of his plane and tried to report what had happened to the radio center. Without bothering to check the information, they answered from the Bolton Head base that this was probably a mistake, this can not be, and there are exercises in the indicated place.
It would seem that this is all. But no, there is another story about the tragedy that took place on 27 on April 1944 of the year in the south of Great Britain near Slapton Sands (Devon county). In this place, the American soldiers also "rehearsed" their future disembarkation. Most of the participants and witnesses of the events more than sixty years ago have already taken their memories to the grave. However, historians and amateurs of sensation managed to collect a lot of data testifying to the catastrophe that occurred. On that day, thousands of soldiers, rushing to the shore from the landing ships, came upon a continuous barrage of their friends, who played the role of the defending Nazis. It seems to be all as planned, but for some unknown reason the military was given combat-loaded weapons that day. Talking about those events, Edwin Wolff, who at that time was a lieutenant colonel of the American army and watched the exercises from the observation point, said how, to his own amazement, he saw the infantrymen, oblique with real bullets, falling on the shore. Everything would be just ridiculous if it were not so sad, because such an incident cost the lives of several hundred people, and dozens of American servicemen were injured and injured. The water at Slapton Sands was red with blood, a lot of corpses swaying on the surface. They were laid on the sand at the shore, and then buried in giant mass graves.
Officially, the victims were “written off” by an Allied convoy that was attacked by the Germans 28 on April. Until now, the official and unofficial versions are fundamentally different from one another - they try not to say anything at all about the earlier tragedy of Slapton Sands. None of the researchers, in any archival document could not find any evidence or simply mention of the tragedy. Refused to confirm this incident and the Pentagon. Most Americans also do not want to believe that hundreds of American soldiers were buried in the steppes of British Devon. This skepticism can be understood. Despite the testimonies of locals and the skulls and bones found on Slapton Sands and the nearest beaches, there is no answer to the main riddle - where did the corpses disappear?
At the beginning of the new century, journalists from the British print publication The Observer, who collected evidence and eyewitness accounts of their events for several years, as well as their relatives, took up a detailed study of what happened in Devon. 16 May 2009 of the year the newspaper even posted an article raising the question of those killed in Slapton Sands. According to their version, the corpses were removed from the place of the original burial soon after the tragedy. Only isolated memories of surviving casual witnesses emerge. According to their stories, the bodies that died under their fire were dug up and put into wooden boxes after the “D-Day”. One man, who worked in 1944 in the year of Kingsbridge (eight kilometers from Slepton Sands), told reporters that all exhumed corpses had been secretly taken out of three trains at the end of the summer. It is for this reason that the search for mass graves in the area of the events under consideration was not crowned with any results. And Nolan Tope, the owner of the field on which the bodies of the soldiers were supposedly buried, even before his death, did not want to reveal the terrible truth about his land.
The “misunderstanding” that occurred on the English coast after the war was preferred by the American ruling circles to forget, and the teachings themselves are considered to be among the most important events of the war, as they were able to ensure the victory of the allied forces and the successful operation of the French coast in Normandy. And sadly aware of this, the victims were really not in vain. It was after these failures that the working radio frequencies were negotiated and brought to the same standard before the decisive landing, allowing the American and British sides to communicate freely with each other. The system of interaction between escort ships and transport ships was improved, which made it possible to avoid the repetition of mistakes made by participants in the April 1944 events of the year. In addition, all the soldiers underwent additional instructions on the correct use of life jackets in the event of an accident, and for escort ships they developed a new detailed instruction for saving people who for some reason got into the water. There was another echo of those sad events. Already after the landing in Normandy, the rear admiral of the army Don P. Moon, accused of bad command of failed exercises and discharged from the leadership, could not withstand the psychological pressure, killed himself by shooting himself with a pistol.
Rear Admiral of the Navy fleet USA Don Pardi Moon was born on April 18, 1894 in the town of Kokomo (Indiana). Upon reaching adulthood, he entered the United States Naval Academy, and showed particular success in artillery. He graduated in June 1916 and was seconded to the battleship Arizona (BB-39), serving in which he was able to develop and implement a number of improvements in the artillery of the ship. He later served on the battleships of Colorado (BB-45) and Nevada (BB-36), and in 1926 he was returned to shore. In 1934, he was appointed destroyer commander John D. Ford (DD-228). In 1942, Don Pardi Moon took part in the invasion of North Africa, and in 1944 he was promoted to rear admiral. During the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, he directed the landing on Utah Beach from the Bayfield ship (APA-33). Shortly after this operation, Moon was sent to Naples to prepare for the invasion of Southern France. However, on August 5, 1944, Rear Admiral shot himself from his 45th caliber pistol. At home, he left a wife and four children. His suicide was attributed to fatigue and overwork, he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
On the eve of the sixtieth anniversary of the incident, the American government decided to pay tribute to the victims of their own mistakes, and George Bush personally noted in his speech that the heroes who died during Operation Tiger are a vivid "example on which the strength of the American nation has always been based." But the people who read and listened to his "touching" speech had a completely logical question: is it too often that power is based on the innocent victims of the ill-considered actions of the leading circles of one of the most powerful world powers?