This Week In Quartermaster History
after midnight on 28 April
1944, nine German torpedo
boats moved into Lyme Bay, along the southern coast of England near a place called Slapton
Sands. Drawn in by heavier than normal radio traffic, they suddenly found themselves
caught up in the midst of Operation TIGER -- one of several amphibious exercises secretly
being conducted by the Allies in preparation for the Normandy Landing.
In minutes the German torpedoes hit their mark. One LST (landing ship, tank) was seriously crippled. Another burst into flames trapping many of the victims below deck. And a third sank immediately, sending hundreds of U.S. soldiers and sailors to a watery grave.
It was the costliest training exercise in all of World War II. As the bodies washed ashore in days ahead, the official count rose to 749.
Quartermaster soldiers onboard LST 531 were among the hardest hit. The 3206th Quartermaster Service Company was virtually destroyed. Of its 251 officers and men, 201 were killed or wounded. The 557th Quartermaster Railhead Company also lost 69 men.
The brave men who died that day contributed to the success in France six weeks later. Indeed their sacrifice was a Prelude to Victory.
Compiled by the
U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps Historian
Fort Lee, Virginia