Exercise Tiger Receives Somber Commemorations


Exercise Tiger was the name of the poorly fated training exercise which took place seven decades ago in preparation for the beach invasions of Normandy. At the end of April 2014, hundreds gathered at Slapton Sands to honor those who lost their lives to the training bout. They stood for an hour in remembrance of those who served and those who ultimately were sacrificed. The service in memoriam of Exercise Tiger gave tribute to what is considered the deadliest training ordeal in the whole of WWII.

Slapton Sands is home to a tank memorial, which provided the setting for the commemoration ceremony. While most do not generally remember a war for its training routines, those who organized the service were grateful to see the large number of attendees. Among them were some survivors of Exercise Tiger. One of them was Edward Sobczyk, who saved more than one hundred of his comrades from death when their training routine went sour. There were also young students receiving education on the war, as well as several political officials from the United States and the United Kingdom.

It was to be an incredibly simple ordeal, in which Landing Ship Tanks would practice pulling up to the beach and unloading their soldiers. Things took a turn for the worst when German fleets attacked the trainees and turned Exercise Tiger into an actual battle. Survivors unable to attend were represented by family members of those who served, and a smaller candlelight service was held at the time of the battle that morning, the Herald Express reports.

One of the greatest fears following the fight was that the attacking Germans may have learned something from the training they happened upon that might tip them off as to the location of D-Day. As such, those who survived Exercise Tiger were unable to share details about the tragedy for quite some time. Not only did many of them lose close friends and allies, but they were forced to deal with the loss on their own terms for fear of leaking any information that might be of a sensitive nature.

Slapton Sands was used for training routines such as Exercise Tiger with some frequency due to its similarities to the beaches of Normandy. Following the grisly outcome of the training ordeal, it became a site for memorial. Locals had evacuated to make room for the training, so luckily the battle saw no civilian casualties. Now, the locals have returned and hold frequent ceremonies to honor those lost in Exercise Tiger and everything they stood for.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE