This film is part of Free

Torcross Tank

A Sherman tank is lifted at Slapton Sands and serves as a reminder of the Normandy landings exercise.

News 1984 3 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for South West Film and Television Archive


Ken Small brings the true story of Exercise Tiger to public attention by salvaging a Sherman Tank. The operation was to prepare for the imminent invasion of Nazi occupied France in Normandy and Slapton Beach was selected for its similarity to Utah Beach where the Americans eventually landed. Allied Forces practice assaults with live ammunition at Slapton Sands in April 1944 culminated in friendly fire incidents with substantial loss of life.

The day after German E-boats attacked a Royal Navy convoy involved in the exercise. In all seven hundred and forty-nine servicemen were killed. The information about the operation remained classified. Changes made for D-Day in June 1944 included the standardisation of radio frequencies, better life vest training for landing troops (because many had drowned under the weight of their packs) and improved plans for picking up floating survivors. Memorials to the personnel who died in Operation Tiger and to the three thousand local residents who were evacuated can be found in the village. Ken Small wrote a book about his thirty years of research about the tank and Exercise Tiger entitled The Forgotten Dead.