The Exercise Tiger operation held April 28, 1944 by U.S. Armed forces wasn’t supposed to be a full-scale battle. It turned into one when German E-boats attacked the D-Day practice run.
The United States Tiger Foundation holds a commemorative service each year to recognize the battle and the lives lost in this relatively forgotten battle of World War II.
It was no different this year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The Audrain County Commission, Tiger Foundation Executive Director Susan Haines and Farber Police Chief Ray Bumbales took part in Tuesday’s ceremony.
The ceremony commemorated the nearly 750 who are missing or were killed in the operation as well as the more than 300 who have died due to the new coronavirus. A blue ribbon was placed at the Missouri Exercise Tiger Army and Navy Anchor Memorial at the Audrain County Courthouse. It will remain there until a COVID-19 vaccine is available.
“That was very moving,” Haines said.
Bumbales also held a walkathon to raise money for the Tiger Foundation to support veterans health care costs associated with COVID-19.
A proclamation from Gov. Mike Parson was read, along with remarks submitted by U.S. Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer.
The top secret Exercise Tiger operation, used tank-landing and support ships at Slapton Sands, Devon, England, and at Lyme Bay. Slapton Sands was used due to its similarity to the Normandy beaches.
The German Navy E-boats mounted the attack in Lyme Bay. Of the 4,000-strong allied forces, nearly one-quarter were missing or killed.
Despite the German attack, landing operations continued. Details of Exercise Tiger were declassified two months after the Normandy invasion, but remained largely forgotten for decades. The lessons learned from Exercise Tiger influenced how D-Day operations were conducted. More than 200 men from Missouri were killed in the operation.
“Today has a new meaning. We honor our past, our present, and we hope for the future when COVID-19 is a thing of the past.” Haines said in her closing remarks Tuesday.