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Liveblogging World War II: April 28, 1944

Exercise Tiger: Wikipedia:

Early on the morning of 28 April... a convoy of follow-up troops was attacked by nine German E-boats 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... 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 the Germans would not find that Salcombe was defended.... [The E-boats] 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.[10] 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.... Many servicemen drowned.... Soldiers unused to being at sea panicked and put on their lifebelts incorrectly... when they jumped into the water, the weight of their combat packs flipped them onto their backs, pushing their heads underwater....

Several changes resulted from mistakes made in Exercise Tiger: Radio frequencies were standardised.... Better life vest training for landing troops. New plans for small craft to pick up floating survivors on D-Day.

The casualty statistics from Tiger were not released until August 1944 along with the casualties of the actual D-Day landings themselves...

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