Remembering a D-Day Rehearsal Gone Wrong

On the night of April 28th, 1944, German E-boats (torpedo boats), drawn by radio chatter to a place called Slapton Sands on the southern coast of England, sank three American LSTs or landing craft participating in a rehearsal exercise for the Allies’ D-Day landing on Utah Beach.  At least 749 U.S. servicemen were killed (more actually than would die at Utah Beach six weeks later).  

In commemoration of today’s 65th anniversary of D-Day, articles posted on MSNBC yesterday described the events of that terrible night, a survivor’s experiences, and the painstaking restoration of the last German E-boat which participated in the attack.

One interesting aspect of the Slapton Sands engagement was the U.S. military’s subsequent calculated effort to keep it a secret.  They feared that had the scope of the tragedy been revealed, the projected D-Day landings might have been compromised.  The secrecy paid off, as the Germans never realized what they had happened into.         

If you’re curious to learn more, Greensboro Public Library has a book called The Invasion Before Normandy:  The Secret Battle of Slapton Sands by Edwin P. Hoyt; and Stephen Ambrose’s Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest also includes some information about Slapton Sands.

Of course, we have lots of books on World War II, including several recent titles on D-Day:  Normandy:  The Landings to the Liberation of Paris by Olivier Wieviorka; The First Men In: US Paratroopers and the Fight to Save D-Day by Ed Ruggero; D-Day Landings:  The Story of the Allied Invasion by Richard Platt (juvenile); D-Day by Martin Gilbert; Eyewitness D-Day:  Firsthand Accounts from the Landing at Normandy to the Liberation of Paris by D.M. Giangreco with Kathryn Moore; The World War II D-Day Invasion in American History by R. Conrad Stein (juvenile); Remember D-day:  The Plan, the Invasion, Survivor Stories by Ronald J. Drez (juvenile); and The D-Day Companion:  Leading Historians Explore History’s Greatest Amphibious Assault, edited by Jane Penrose.

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One Response

  1. Those interested in D-Day may also want to watch a documentary film via the PBS collection of videos found on NCLIVE.org titled, “D-Day: Down to Earth – Return of the 507th.” which chronicles the 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment, who dropped into Normandy on D-Day and then was engaged in other important battles. The film features surviving members on their return to Normandy in 2002.

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