Monday, November 9, 2015

Documentary Review: America's Secret D-day Disaster

This is a documentary about something which really happened six weeks before D-day.  A beach in Southern England was evacuated to give the U.S. troops a chance to participate in a landing drill.  This was needed because most of the U.S. troops were green and had never been in actual combat.  There was one event which could have lead to disaster.  The U.S. and British forces did not coordinate well.  The British forces fired at the beach to clear it of "enemy" troops just as the U.S. forces were landing.  There was a lapse of an hour between the forces.  However, there are no documented deaths from this mistake.  There are over 600 documented deaths from a torpedo boat attack against the larger landing ship tank (LST).  This gave the U.S. the ability to land mechanized forces onto the beach.  These vessels were large, and slow.  They became easy targets and were called "large stationary targets" by the seamen.  Because of the increased radio chatter, partially caused by different frequencies used by the British and the Americans, the Nazis were alerted to something going on, perhaps a large convoy.  They sent their S-boats, or speed boats.  These boats were fast, and could fire torpedoes, two at a time.  They arrived to the area early, and laid in wait for whatever may be coming.  What came was an armada of these large landing boats, participating in the training exercise.  They were protected by only one British Corvette, another assigned collided with a vessel and was taken out of action.  They were not expecting attack, as the were close to Britain.  However when they approached, two of the boats where damaged with torpedoes, and another badly damaged.  These boats were heavily loaded with material and personnel.  Exploding vehicular gas tanks was a tremendous fear on some of the boats.
About 640 men died; over two-thirds army personnel on board the boats.  A cover -up of the disaster was ordered, and many family members did not know what happened other than they were sent telegrams indicating their loved ones had been killed in action even though they were stationed in England.  They cover-up was ordered by General Eisenhower who said, fix up the boys, but keep no record of it.  Some were lost at sea, and others reportedly buried in an unmarked grave.

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