Blue on Blue covered-up prior to D-Day.

#1
Blue on Blue covered-up prior to D-Day.
Found a fascinating story in the Observer.

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,6903,1217885,00.html

It is claimed that when GIs were practising beach landings at Slapton Sands, the "opposing" forces had mistakenly loaded live ammo, and killed a s*it-load of their oppos. Doesn't make that much sense to me; surely they would of known what rounds they were loading into their weapons, and that they were going to be training them on their own side? being a Matelot who has never taken part in a live firing exercise, I was wondering what you folks make of the story?
 

Mr Happy

LE
Moderator
#2
Seems like a load of cock and bull to me, I suspect they could have landed on the wrong beach and been mown down by on duty British defenders but in an exercise this seems like crap.
 
#3
Heard a similar story a few years ago. They blamed troops running into the overhead fire or the overhead fire had been set up wrongly.
 
#4
Slapton Sands is well worth a visit - very good tea shop for Devon cream tea. Gets a bit windy but quite poignant to see the tank and memorial to those who died in this incident. There was a tv documentary in the last couple of years but I can't remember if it reached any conclusion - anyone else see it?
 
#5
The accounts of those present that day indicate that, as thousands of GIs swarmed ashore from landing craft, they were cut down by bullets fired by comrades playing the role of German defenders, who had for some reason been given live ammunition.
Now it would take a long time for anyone to convince me that trained soldiers, in wartime wouldn't have noticed that they were loading live rather than blanks.

One soldier may make a mistake, but all of them??

And if they did, don't tell me that if you took an aimed shot on an exercise and the person you aimed at disapeared in cloud of red mist and drop like a sack of spuds, that you wouldn't stop firing and check you were firing blanks. Even the unexpected VERY load bang would make you check.

I sniff some broardsheet Jernos on a story that belongs in the Mirror!
 
#6
Bernoulli said:
Blue on Blue covered-up prior to D-Day.
It is claimed that when GIs were practising beach landings at Slapton Sands, the "opposing" forces had mistakenly loaded live ammo, and killed a s*it-load of their oppos.
Wasn't that the occasion where German E-Boats (their MTBs) out on patrol close to UK waters came across the exercising landing craft and sank a shedload of them?
 
#7
http://www.geocities.com/milbios/slaptonsands.html

Looks like several incidents.

In March of 1944 there were lots of casualties in the Tiger Practice Exercise. There were 50 deaths from drowning, overhead fire from live ammo guns. There was a British Navy Group help supposedly to fire Rockets a t 8:15 in the morning and due to poor timing 50 to 60 more men were killed. There was British military assisting as ground land personnel and they observed bulldozers used for the digging of graves to bury the dead.

1. The name for this secretive exercise was "Tiger Exercise". Then on April 27, 1944 a full-scale practice exercise was initiated because the real thing D-Day was only six weeks away. An American navy Admiral Moon was in charge. Due to a one hour postponement the rocket action the above paragraph of death to American soldiers happened. Beside that there was 29 additional casualties.

Also, on April 27, 1944 there were 500 defenders (acting as German troops) on English coastline (acting as German military) delegated for the exercise with a British and American Colonel Thompson as observers. When the American's stormed the beach for a practice exercise against the defenders this was when the rocket attack happened. Again due to the one hour postponement when the rockets were fired it was too late, the rocket could not be stopped. The observers said the total dead was more like 150 American's dead. The mistake was reported to General Bradley who told his Colonels to not say anything about what happened. Not to even speak of the circumstances.

On April 28, 1944, the loading of LST's at Plymouth England begun for the actual D-Day invasion. It comprised 8 LST's, a convoy of ships 5 miles long. Protection of the convoy was under the British Navy. It was so highly secret the American troops were not told and did not know where they were going, some thought this was the big day.

The German Navy listens to Radio Signals and knew what was happening, so they sent out nine German E-Boats to intercept.

My VCR version numbers could be altered to cushion the impact on whoever views this tape. Any way there were about eight American loaded LST's ships coming from Plymouth, England right off the coast of Devon, England loaded with men, tanks, guns, ammo loaded for D-Day invasion. One ship that was sunk had 22 ducks on load manifest. They were to practice the landing by cruising along the English Coastline up from Slapton Sands. As they turned slightly northeasterly off Portland Bill up this particular Channel coastline two German E-Boat (Gunships) got between them and the English Coastline and sunk two ships as I observed the tape. One ship when sunk lost 256 men another ship sunk and lost 493 men about 749 total in number. With the trucks loaded with gas and ammo there were terrific explosions and heat. The destruction of the two LST's destroyed and sunk one additional damaged took only 15 minutes. Most of the men wore Mae West type jackets but were never instructed how to use them. It was training exercise that lasted for 40 minutes with a loss of 800 men.
 
#8
There were eight US officers on board those ships who had been fully briefed on the real op. The E-Boats were seen to be patrolling slowly amongst the men in the water looking for officers. Had they found one (all bodies were later recovered, having drowned) a lot more than 800 men would have been lost.

I was staying in a hotel near Dartmouth last year when I met someone who had visited Slapton Sands and bought a book off this guy who has investigated the incident. He was one of those odious little creatures from hollywood who looks out for stories to put on film and was honking on about how he was going to cast Alan Rickman in the role of an arrogant RN officer and basically treat the world to another U571.

It was all Mrs Stickybomb could do to stop me from 'recycling' his wine bottles up his hoop.
 
#9
as well as what's been said, the nature of the Op so close to D Day was very sensitive,hence only a few officers actually knew the big picture.....i saw a very recent documentary on it...and the reason why it was covered up was to protect anything getting out about D Day(or the mention of amphib assault practices).....wouldn't mind finding out what the E Boats reported back or what they thought.
 
#10
105AVRE said:
the reason why it was covered up was to protect anything getting out about D Day(or the mention of amphib assault practices)
Not really. By that stage of the war, the boxheads knew that an invasion was coming. Op Fortitude South was a deception campaign designed to fool them into thinking that it would be the Pas de Calais and not Normandy and this succeeded beyond the planners dreams. Amongst other things, we had filled south eastern ports with dummy landing craft and allowed the Luftwaffe to photograph them so invasion exercises would not have come as a surprise. Battle of Wits by David Owen (Leo Cooper) has a detailed account of this and related deception ops. Well worth a look.
 
#11
Plant-Pilot said:
Now it would take a long time for anyone to convince me that trained soldiers, in wartime wouldn't have noticed that they were loading live rather than blanks.
At the time were there were many professional soldiers left? I thought most (and indeed most of the reserves) had been killed or caught at or before Dunkirk. So most of the guys in uniform would have had incomplete wartime training - with rare use of ammo. [/quote]
 
#12
Just seen this, my Arl Fella has a house down there. There were 2 exercises down there and both were lash ups. In the first they got the land/navy timing wrong, something about an order never got through, and live fire from the matelots stirred up the beach an hour early, which caused something of a stir to the blokes on the beach. At that exercise there was a Brit observer who says he saw the Yanks with small arms "firing into the 'invading force' and bodies dropping like nine-pins" but since he may not have known that they were firing blank, and the blokes coming ashore having bobbed around for hours might have been exhausted. He was not fully briefed, and a fair distance away.

The second exercise was a good old fashioned breakdown in communications. The Yanks told the RN about their little jaunt around the bay ( to simulate journey time to France) and asked for an escort. The ship detailed was U/S (neatly) and the whole convoy was protedted only by some steamer with a spud-gun. The Krauts watched them milling about and zoomed in. They zapped a few, then split, largely cos they expected the RN to show up and spank them. Could have been a lot worse. As it was they collected loads of bodies, often in landing craft with the bow doors open.

In further context, the locals were forced/moved out from a broad area around Slapton for a couple of months before and after, which did'nt go down well. Hence all sorts of half-truths and conjecture (pace the stuff about lorries full of Yank bodies and mass graves. There may have been..)

You can see why the Yanks did'nt fancy a memorial, or indeed any attention being paid at all. Having said all this (lot) its a lovely part of the world, and about the only straight bit of road for twenty miles!
 
#13
SoftPawn said:
Plant-Pilot said:
Now it would take a long time for anyone to convince me that trained soldiers, in wartime wouldn't have noticed that they were loading live rather than blanks.
At the time were there were many professional soldiers left? I thought most (and indeed most of the reserves) had been killed or caught at or before Dunkirk. So most of the guys in uniform would have had incomplete wartime training - with rare use of ammo.
At that stage in the war, shortly before D Day, the general standard of training (as opposed to actual battle experience) would have been very high amongst Allied troops. (By the way, your post assumes that the troops doing the firing were British.)

I don't buy this idea of numbers of trained soldiers firing quantities of ball ammo instead of blank, and continuing to fire without anyone realising the mistake. However, live ammunition of various natures was used to provide realism in training. If these casualties really happened, sounds more like a field firing accident of some kind, which would include the mistimed-rocket theory.
 
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