The quieter months gives us the opportunity to go out and explore the beautiful towns and countryside near to the town of Torquay on the English Riveria and yesterday we drove out to the beautiful nature reserve that is Slapton Sands and Slapton Ley.

The quickest and prettiest way to get there is via the ferry from picturesque Kingswear over to the beautiful town of Dartmouth and then take the coastal road (A379) out of town taking in the dramatic views over Blackpool Sands and onto Slapton Sands and the town of Torcross.

The beach itself is made up of pebbles and is approximately 3 miles long, with Slapton ley lake nature reserve behind the beach. The ley itself is made up of woodland, reed beds and fen and is home to a variety of birds such as swans, all duck varietys, badgers and otters.

The area is steeped in history, in 1943 the town and nearby towns and villages were taken over by the allied forces to use as a rehearsal area for the D-Day landings. Slapton Sands is similar in size and formation to the beach at Utah so the Americans started training excercises using live ammunition to experience how the real operation would feel like. At the time german submarine boats were stationed off Cherbourg and on the night of 27th April 1943 a group of nine German E-Boats set out on a normal reconnaissance mission. They followed the usual channel route without any sign of a convoy or 'enemy' ships. As they headed towards the Lyme Bay area, they suddenly came in visual contact with the allied forces which they consequently attacked with torpedos. The attack resulted in 749 Amercian soldiers and sailors deaths.

Subsequent investigations revealed two main reasons for the tragedy, firstly lack of naval escort vessels and secondly an error in radio frequencies. The convoy was supposed to be accompanied by a Royal Navy Corvette and a World War I destroyer. The destroyer having suffered damages was in port for repair, a replacement not available. The carefully prepared radio frequencies were issued with serious typographical errors which resulted in the troop landing craft being on different radio frequencies to the Corvette and the commanding officers on shore

Today the event is commemorated with a stone monument alongside a Serman Tank at Torcross. Its well worth a visit on your next visit to Devon and the Buckingham Lodge

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Slapton Sands history