In November, 1943, Devon County Council was informed by the War Cabinet that the Slapton Sands area was to be totally evacuated, to permit part of the South Hams to be used for practice assault landings. This was one of the most traumatic episodes in the area’s history, involving the clearance of 30,000 acres and three thousand men, women and children who were evacuated at the end of 1943, taking their belongings, livestock, pets and in many cases, farm equipment with them. These local people, some of whom had never left their homes and villages, had just six weeks to pack up and move away. Many had friends and relatives nearby who accommodated them. Farmers doubled up their land and some moved away from the area, never to return. They made way for 15,000 U.S. troops, who over the following months engaged in battle exercise, often involving live ammunition. More detail can be found here
“Exercise Tiger” was one of several assault rehearsals conducted at Slapton Sands.
It turned out to be one of the great tragedies of World War II. Hundreds of American soldiers and sailors died needlessly due to confusion and incompetence. It was one of the military’s best kept secrets until it was revealed to the world almost 40 years later.
This memorial can be found in the car park almost opposite the turning up into the village from the beach road by Slapton Sands