The Forgotten Dead

Published: August 18th, 2018     
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Book Cover
Author: Ken Small, Mark Rogerson
Reviewed by: Bill O'Malley - IPMS# 46473
ISBN #: 9781472834492
E-Book ISBN #: 9781472834553
Price: $16.00
Product / Stock #: GNM
Product provided by: Osprey Publishing

This book describes Exercise Tiger, the rehearsal for the American D-Day landings on Utah Beach in Normandy. The training exercise occurred on the Devon and Dorset coasts of England around the village of Slapton Sands on April 27, 1944. Almost 1000 American soldiers and sailors died during the exercise, which was later covered up by officials embarrassed by the fiasco.

This book describes the effort of author Ken Small to uncover the truth about the deaths of the soldiers and sailors and to ensure their sacrifice would never be forgotten. First published in 1988, the book has been updated and re-published in 2018.

  • Chapter 1 The Forgotten Dead
    • Describes the impact on the residents of Slapton Village both before and after the training exercise.
  • Chapter 2 Exercise Tiger
    • Describes the actions of the convoy of LST's taking part in the invasion exercise, and the damages incurred by German E-boats. Lack of communication and inadequate escorts for the invading LSTs led to the loss of many American Naval and Army personnel.
  • Chapter 3 Attack!
    • Personal accounts of survivors from the LSTs are used to create a detailed picture of what it was like when the German E-boats attacked.
  • Chapter 4 A Slow, Cold Death
    • Personal accounts are again used in this chapter to describe the efforts of survivors of sinking LSTs after they abandoned the ships.
  • Chapter 5 A Question of Blame
    • This chapter describes the follow-up investigation into the errors made during the exercise, and those responsible, that led to the loss of life during the practice invasion.
  • Chapter 6 Early Days
    • This chapter is a detailed autobiography of the author, Ken Small. This section also describes Small's developing curiosity about the stories of the military exercises. It also describes when he found an abandoned Sherman tank at the bottom of the bay and decided to use it to make a memorial to those who died during Exercise Tiger.
  • Chapter 7 How to Buy A Tank
    • Small describes the bureaucracy encountered during his attempts to purchase the abandoned tank.
  • Chapter 8 The Recovery Begins
    • This section describes the salvage efforts to bring the submerged tank close to the beach.
  • Chapter 9 Ashore at Last
    • The tank is winched on shore and placed on a plinth to form the memorial for those that died during Exercise Tiger.
  • Chapter 10 The Memorial Service
    • A memorial service was held on November 15, 1987, and this chapter describes Small's efforts to organize the memorial service.
  • Chapter 11 Relatives and Friends
    • Describes several gatherings in the U.S. of relatives, friends, and survivors after the memorial.
  • Chapter 12 The Missing Graves
    • Small discusses the uncertainties about where the dead from Exercise Tiger are buried, and whether they received a proper burial.
  • Chapter 13 The Next Crusade
    • Small describes the personal toll he has taken as a result of his commitment to the Exercise Tiger tank and memorial.
  • The last sections of the book include stories from survivors, both Allied & German, with their personal descriptions of the events surrounding Exercise Tiger. A list of the known dead is also included.

The book is a non-fiction historical novel rather than a reference for modelers but is a good read for those interested in WWII or Exercise Tiger in particular. Most of the book is about the personal efforts of Ken Small to recognize the disastrous exercise and the memorial he championed.

Thanks to Ken Small for his persistent efforts to document Exercise Tiger, and thanks to Osprey for providing the review copy to IPMS.

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  • Sample page
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