- Note - The story of the accidental slaughter
of hundreds, perhaps more, of American soldiers off and on the beaches
of England in a catastrophic mistake during 1944 has been rumored for years.
More information is now emerging from the shadows of time. Apparently,
during a nightime practice amphibious assault exercise on the English coast,
one or more German E Boats came across the flotilla of 'invasion' ships
lying just off the target beach. The German boats opened fire and total
chaos broke out, including the use of friendly British fire, using live
ammunition, from shore aimed at the American forces involved in the practice
landing. The carnage was withering and by morning, according to at least
one witness, the beaches were littered with the bodies of hundreds of dead
Americans with hundreds more still bobbing in the adjacent waters. Here
is a new report on the tragedy from the Newspaper, Western Morning News
- IS this field the site of a mass grave
of scores of American soldiers who died in a World War Two friendly fire
incident in South Devon?
- Rumours of a secret grave of US troops
in the South Hams have persisted since wartime exercises involving tens
of thousands of soldiers were carried out in 1944 to prepare men for the
Normandy landings later that year.
- Now corroborating eyewitness accounts
obtained by the WMN suggest that scores of soldiers were killed in a series
of friendly fire incidents and their bodies buried nearby.
- Although the US authorities have admitted
that more than 600 men were killed during the exercises in a surprise E-boat
attack, these revelations will stun relatives of the dead who have always
been led to believe that all the deaths were caused by enemy fire.
- Suspicions that American servicemen were
buried in South Devon arose in the 1980s when Stoke Fleming woman Dorothy
Seekings broke her wartime vow of silence to US military forces, revealing
how she had witnessed soldiers' bodies being buried in a mass grave in
the nearby hills.
- Now the Western Morning News has uncovered
an independent source who has given an eyewitness account of graves being
dug in the same field near the South Hams village of Blackawton, near Dartmouth,
- Ugborough farmer Francis John Burden
saw a huge pit between one and two acres in area with boxes the shape of
coffins stacked beside it. Today a mound marks the site in a field belonging
to farmer Nolan Tope, who told the WMN: "I know the whole story, but
I have sworn not to tell anyone. These chaps gave their lives for you."
- Meanwhile former American serviceman
Harold McAulley has revealed how he buried bodies - their faces black with
oil and burns - in the South Hams. He said: "We hauled them off the
beach and took a couple of (truck) loads inland and just threw them in."
- Evidence for a friendly fire incident
is compelling, with a number of US soldiers giving key statements.
- While Lieutenant Colonel Edwin Wolf watched
troops debarking from landing craft on Slapton Sands in April, 1944 he
heard several "zings" close to his ear. "Infantrymen on
the beach fell down and remained motionless on the shingle - the exercise
'defenders' were using live ammunition," he said.
- American military driver Hank Aaron watched
the same exercises from Strete Beach. Suddenly bullets began passing around
his head and he scrambled from the action zone. When he looked up, five
men nearby had been killed by the firing.
- East Devon landowner Gordon Hallet has
told how, in 1944, he pulled the drenched bodies of American servicemen
from the sea off Exmouth, saying they looked like "sick mannequins".
- Witnesses tell how during the 1950s skulls
and bones appearing to date from the end of World War Two were found buried
beneath Blackpool Sands and surrounding beaches.
- Then, in the 1970s, the skeletal remains
of what appear to be an American serviceman's leg, complete with boot,
were found in the back garden of a house in the South Hams village of Strete.
- Exeter-based Richard Bass, a wartime
historian who has been studying the Westcountry D-Day exercises for 10
years, said: "Evidence is coming to light which reveals that a number
of covered-up incidents occurred during the exercises. Now is the time
for the truth to come out."