by Ken Small
Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2018. Pp. vi, 250.
Illus., appends., index. $16.00 paper. ISBN: 9781472834492
Recovering and Remembering Slapton Sands
Originally published in 1988, British amateur historian Small’s book on the disastrous landing rehearsal of the 4th Infantry Division was one of the first serious treatments of the exercise, during which German S-boats got in among the landing vessels, sinking several and killing perhaps a thousand men.
Unlike many writers, television producers, and conspiracy theorists, Small rejects claims of a postwar “cover up” about the incident. He notes that it naturally had to be kept highly secret at the time, lest the Germans realize the site in England greatly resembled certain beaches on the Cotentin Peninsula, but then goes on to point out that documents relating to the disaster were later declassified, and even notes that several have long included mention of it.
Although much recent work has been done on the disaster, Small’s account sets it within the framework of the overall preparations for the invasion, and thus will be of value to those wishing to learn more about the overall planning and training for the D-Day operations.
Small also covers efforts to commemorate the event and those who died, and so The Forgotten Dead is also likely to be of use for anyone interested in how we remember and memorialize historical events.
Note: The Forgotten Dead is also available in several e-editions.