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Old 04-20-2008, 04:06 PM   #1
danlisa
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Default Slapton Sands - The Cover Up.....

Having been forcibly made to watch Foyle's War (UK'ers know what I mean), I'm left rather glad I did. In a morbid kind of way.

I don't know whether most of you UK'ers or even the US members here are aware of the massacre at Slapton Sands in the UK during WWII.

Anyway, the episode caused me to lookup some details.

http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq20-1.htm
http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq20-2.htm

It makes for some interesting reading and brings to light what kind of price you can pay if armed forces cannot communicate together accurately.

In fact, to this day, large areas surrounding Slapton Sands are still owned by the MOD and off limits to the public. During my short research, I can't find out whether or not these soldiers have ever been repatriated.

I'm sorry for the gruesome reading but I was not aware of this failed operation and thought it might be of interest to you.
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Old 04-20-2008, 04:35 PM   #2
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I saw the 'Foyles War' episode concerned but had heard of it before.

However, the cover-up appears to be still in operation as I accessed both of your links and both failed (404error).

conspiracy - anyone?
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Old 04-20-2008, 05:02 PM   #3
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havnt seen foyles war... but im familiar with slapton sands. some sort of D-Day practice landing in which live fire exercises resulted in a number of deaths.

ill have to read up on that.
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Old 04-20-2008, 05:28 PM   #4
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Interesting. I was not aware of that event
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Old 04-20-2008, 05:43 PM   #5
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I don't think comspiracy, rather the necessity to maintain public and military morale and the need to keep preparations for the pending invasion of Europe as secret as possible. After all, if the Germans became aware of the concentration on amphibious operations, landing troops via landing-craft, it significantly narrowed down the locations where such an invasion on the necessary scale could take place. There were alternatives: a large-scale operation to capture and exploit one, or more French Channel ports, supported by massive airborne landings to name just one. The infamous Dieppe Raid was a "rehearsal" for the idea of seizing a working seaport.

Re. Slapton Sands, what no-one has ever answered definitively is why 9 e-boats were detailed to be so close inshore on that exact date. The naval piquet line across Lyme Bay was inadequate, but why did 9 e-boats appear there at all? IMHO it wasn't coincidence. Somehow ( cypher-breaking? Reconnaissance by U-Boat? agents - although the latter is very unlikely at that stage of the War) the Kriegsmarine knew that something was happening and sent the e-boats as a "reconnaisance in force." E-boats were the best choice of vessel for this. Very fast, difficult to spot in the dark, but packing enough punch to sink many kinds of ship.

It was a tragedy which cost 749 allied lives. There would have been an official, internal enquiry, but, as far as I know, the findings have not been made public.

There were many other things which were censored durng the War. The true scope of the defeat of the BEF in 1940, which led to the Dunkirk evacuation, was hidden for fear of fostering defeatist feelings in Britain. ( The fear was that, having been so badly beaten, if the full story became known a demoralised British public, a defeated British military and elements of the British parliament would see sueing for peace as the only viable option.)

Was a german invasion force incinerated off the Suffolk Coast by the Petroleum Warfare Dept's flame barrages, or was it "black propaganda" aimed at demoralising the Germans?

And, because inadequate and insufficient reconnaissance of the landing-beaches was carried out in the run up to Operation Torch, just how many allied soldiers - especially in the Eastern Task Force - drowned because they charged out of landing craft which had grounded on sand-bars, rather than the shore, and found themselves in full battle-kit in deep water? An uncle of mine who was with the Royal Engineers there, said that it was "hundreds."

the catalogue of mistakes, errors and set-backs suffered by the alies, but kept secret for the sake of national and military morale is long. And doubtless things happened of which, even over 60 years later, no-one is fully aware. Just consider for how long after 1945, the war-time role of Bletchley Park was kept a secret.
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Old 04-20-2008, 05:52 PM   #6
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Default Ive been there...

I visited Torcross / Slapton sands some years ago. They have salvaged a Sherman DD amphibious tank and it is now the towns memorial to those who died.



When you are there you can see how long the beaches are and hence the reason for choosing Torcross as an excercise area for the D Day landings. There are several cliff faces and all sorts of obstacles.



The War office evacuated Torcross and many other villages around the area specifically for this excersize the largest upto that point that had ever been held and even today there are entire villages that have never been returned to their original occupants.

To have a few German attack boats show up there at night I can only imagine would have been absolute carnage.

When you are there it feels very calm pleasant. You would never have known it was the once scene of such a major exercise and carnage.
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Old 04-21-2008, 02:06 PM   #7
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I already knew about the Slapton sands cover up. But despite the loss of those US troops, D-Day was a success, so those lives were not lost for nothing.
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Old 04-21-2008, 03:36 PM   #8
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A good site is this one.

http://www.mikekemble.com/ww2/tiger1.html

And read the book as well.

The Forgotten Dead
By Ken Small
ISBN: 0747575436

After the Battle No.44 has an artical on it.
http://www.afterthebattle.com/ab-con1.html
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Old 04-21-2008, 04:33 PM   #9
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My father told me the story many years ago.....very interesying.

Never trust your Government 100%
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Old 04-21-2008, 04:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimbuna
Never trust your Government 100%
Off Topic
What Government is that?
End of off topic


Back on topic

I do believe it was the correct decision to keep this unfortunate event secret as D-Day was so close. The effect on the troops would not had been good at all.
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Old 04-22-2008, 08:22 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by STEED
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimbuna
Never trust your Government 100%
Off Topic
What Government is that?
End of off topic


Back on topic

I do believe it was the correct decision to keep this unfortunate event secret as D-Day was so close. The effect on the troops would not had been good at all.
Whatever Government you come under the rule of in wartime.....propaganda worked for the Allies equally as well as the Axis.

It was only kept secret in 'Official circles'. There were merchant navy beaching exercises going on further up the coast and they were drafted in to help clear up the mess.
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Old 04-22-2008, 08:27 AM   #12
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The news was released a few days after D-Day so it's not what you call a full blown cover up.
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Old 04-22-2008, 08:37 AM   #13
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My father told me that the real concern at the time was not knowing for sure if the Germans had wind of the pending Normandy landings via captured Documents on drowned troops or even someone having been captured.

Remember, the Allies used the washed up body trick(launched from a sub actually) to fool the Germans into what area the landings would occur in.
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Old 04-22-2008, 09:53 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimbuna
My father told me that the real concern at the time was not knowing for sure if the Germans had wind of the pending Normandy landings via captured Documents on drowned troops or even someone having been captured.
Allied command knew exactly who was carrying 'sensitive' documents on these exercises. In the case of this 'Exercise Tiger' every named carrier of such documents was retrieved.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimbuna
Remember, the Allies used the washed up body trick(launched from a sub actually) to fool the Germans into what area the landings would occur in.
Was that trick not used only for the Sicily landings?


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Old 04-22-2008, 10:02 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schuhart
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimbuna
My father told me that the real concern at the time was not knowing for sure if the Germans had wind of the pending Normandy landings via captured Documents on drowned troops or even someone having been captured.
Allied command knew exactly who was carrying 'sensitive' documents on these exercises. In the case of this 'Exercise Tiger' every named carrier of such documents was retrieved.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimbuna
Remember, the Allies used the washed up body trick(launched from a sub actually) to fool the Germans into what area the landings would occur in.
Was that trick not used only for the Sicily landings?


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Correct for the second point, the first by Jim was also correct.
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