Ceremony Held in Dorset to Commemorate the 80th Anniversary of Exercise Tiger

Photo Credit: Geoff Moore / The Travel Trunk
Photo Credit: Geoff Moore / The Travel Trunk

A commemoration event to mark the 80th anniversary of Exercise Tiger took place on the afternoon of Friday, April 26, 2024, at Portland in Dorset, United Kingdom. The ceremony was organized in remembrance of the lives lost during the drills.

Crowd gathered along the edge of a beach
Crowd gathered to watch the Exercise Tiger commemoration ceremony, April 2024. (Photo Credit: Geoff Moore / The Travel Trunk)

In April 1944, the Allied forces gathered around Lyme Bay, an area of the English Channel, for a “dress rehearsal” of the D-Day invasion of Normandy. Tragically, many sailors and soldiers lost their lives during the exercise, which predominantly took place on Slapton Sands in Devon. Two Landing Ship, Tanks (LST) were also sunk off Portland Bill by German E-boats.

A surviving LST and other rescue ships brought the dead back into Portland.

Westland Wasp flying over water
Westland Wasp during the Exercise Tiger commemoration ceremony, April 2024. (Photo Credit: Geoff Moore / The Travel Trunk)

The US D-Day Memorial at Victoria Gardens was the scene of the short ceremony.

To mark the anniversary, 749 poppies were dropped from a helicopter as crowds watched from the coast around the Cove Inn at Chesil Cove. The use of the Westland Wasp, which dates back to the 1960s, was organized by Navy Wings, which “aims to inspire future generations and to create a focus for remembrance.” It was flown by Tim de la Fosse, a veteran of HMS Osprey, the former British Royal Navy anti-submarine training base in Portland.

Tim de la Fosse standing in front of a Westland Wasp
Tim de la Fosse flew the Westland Wasp involved in the commemoration ceremony for Exercise Tiger, April 2024. (Photo Credit: Geoff Moore / The Travel Trunk)

Chris Lock, BEM, an organizer of the event and a member of the Royal Tank Regiment Association, said:

“The 80th anniversary of the deaths of the 749 US sailors and soldiers who tragically lost their lives in Portland’s home waters during the early hours of April 28, 1944. Many still remain just offshore in their sunken Landing Ship, Tanks.”

More from us: Memorial Erected In Honor of American Troops Who Died In D-Day Rehearsal Exercise

Following the poppy tribute, participating ships – both civilian and military – that were moored in Portland Harbour started the ceremony with a ship’s horn salute and commencement of the wreath placement ceremony.

Geoff Moore

Geoff Moore is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE