EXERCISE TIGER

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aurora
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EXERCISE TIGER

Postby aurora » Thu Dec 04, 2014 1:54 pm

Exercise Tiger-[b]Eboat attack in Lyme Bay
On the day after the first practice assaults for D Day, early on the morning of 28 April 1944, the exercise was blighted when a convoy of follow-up troops was attacked by nine German E-boats under the command of Korvettenkapitän Bernd Klug, in Lyme Bay.
Of the two ships assigned to protect the convoy, only one was present. HMS Azalea, a corvette was leading the nine LSTs in a straight line, a formation which later drew criticism since it presented an easy target to the E-boats. The second ship which was supposed to be present, HMS Scimitar, a World War I destroyer, had been in collision with an LST, suffered structural damage and left the convoy to be repaired at Plymouth. Because the LSTs and British naval headquarters were operating on different frequencies, the American forces did not know this.

When other British ships sighted the E-boats earlier in the night and told the corvette, its commander failed to inform the LST convoy, assuming incorrectly that they had already been told. British shore batteries defending Salcombe Harbour had seen silhouettes of the E-boats but had been instructed to hold fire so that the Germans would not find that Salcombe was defended.

The E-boats had left Cherbourg on patrol the previous evening and did not encounter the Allied patrol lines either off Cherbourg or in the Channel. They spotted the convoy (convoy "T-4"), eight LSTs carrying vehicles and combat engineers of the 1st Engineer Special Brigade with a single corvette as escort, and then attacked.LST-507 caught fire and was abandoned. LST-531 sank shortly after being torpedoed while LST-289 was set on fire but eventually made it back to shore. LST-511 was damaged by friendly fire. The remaining ships and their escort fired back and the E-boats made no more attacks.

749 servicemen were killed: 441 United States Army and 197 United States Navy personnel (note: this adds up to only 638). Many servicemen drowned in the cold sea while waiting to be rescued. Soldiers, unused to being at sea, panicked and put on their lifebelts incorrectly. In some cases, this meant that when they jumped into the water the weight of their combat packs flipped them onto their backs, dragging their heads underwater and drowning them.

It has been said there was no "cover up" of this disaster; but it has to be said there was an immediate News Blackout. It was only after the war ended this story leaked out- to the absolute dismay of hundreds of grieving relatives
Quo Fata Vocant-Whither the Fates call

Jim

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Re: EXERCISE TIGER

Postby RF » Sun Dec 07, 2014 5:50 pm

The Americans were fortunate in that the scale of the disaster could have been much bigger, especially if more of the LST's had been hit.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

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Re: EXERCISE TIGER

Postby aurora » Sun Dec 07, 2014 6:23 pm

How right you are RF:
In the confusion of the action and darkness it was impossible to be certain what was happening. The British ship FDT217 (Fighter Direction Tender) had sailed out of Portland to provide radar and communications cover under operational conditions. It was one of three FDTs that would provide stalwart service off Normandy two months later. However in the early hours of the 28th FDT217 received a signal to "Make port all haste" which they did successfully ... but elsewhere the scale of the debacle only became apparent in the hours following the action.

LSTs 507 and 531 had been sunk with the loss of 202 and 424 respectively - a total of 626 out of a total US Army and US Navy complement of 943. LST 289 was damaged with the loss of 13 and LST 511 was hit by fire from LST 496 resulting in 18 wounded.

LST 496,511 (Plymouth Section) and LST 499(Brixham Section) survived

The total of 749 American killed and missing was 10 times the actual losses on Utah beach on June 6 1944.

_
Last edited by aurora on Sun Dec 07, 2014 6:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Quo Fata Vocant-Whither the Fates call

Jim

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Re: EXERCISE TIGER

Postby aurora » Sun Dec 07, 2014 6:42 pm

Lessons were learned but the appalling loss of life had little or no compensating benefit to the allied landings at Normandy. However recommendations included;

using larger escort forces if available

the need for rescue craft during any large scale landing

ensuring that vital information on enemy contacts was disseminated quickly

introducing standard procedures and special communication circuits for each Operation including the use of the same radio wavelengths

reinforcing the message for all hands not to look at flares or fires ... to do so reduced ability to see objects in the dark

limiting the amount of fuel carried to that needed for the operation itself to reduce combustible material and thereby fire risk

making rifles and pistols more generally available to fire on E-boats when they paced close aboard especially when guns could not depress sufficiently

making life boats and life rafts as near ready for lowering as possible

issuing illumination rockets to help slow moving large ships locate E-boats in darkness

improving fire fighting equipment including the installation of manually operated pumps for LSTs and other ships carrying large amounts of inflammable material

providing training in the use of the kapok life preserver jacket in preference to the CO2 single type. The former was more effective in keeping heads above water

loosening boot laces where an order to abandon ship seemed likely to make it easier to remove heavy waterlogged boots in the water.

http://www.combinedops.com/Op_Tiger.htm
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Re: EXERCISE TIGER

Postby aurora » Mon Dec 08, 2014 10:06 am

When 10 "bigots"-Specially appointed officers who were privy to "sensitive material" relating to D Day; were reported missing, there was a strong possibility that the plans for the reinvasion of Europe had been seriously and possibly fatally compromised. At the time of Operation Tiger the date for D-Day was not known even to Eisenhower but the 10 officers did know the location of the invasion beaches ... information of vital interest to the enemy.

A vast search of Lyme Bay was undertaken and by a miracle the bodies of all ten officers were recovered whilst 100s of others were, at least for the moment, lost at sea. Although the loss of the "bigot" officers was regrettable the relief amongst the allied planners, to know that the their invasion plans had not been compromised, can only be imagined.
Quo Fata Vocant-Whither the Fates call

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