Slapton Sands

Investigated on April 28th, 2008

History
Shortly after midnight on 28 April 1944, nine German torpedo boats moved into Lyme Bay, along the southern coast of England at Slapton Sands. Drawn in by heavier than normal radio traffic, they suddenly found themselves caught up in the midst of Operation Tiger- one of several amphibious exercises secretly being conducted by the Allies in preparation for the Normandy Landing.

In minutes the German torpedoes hit their mark. One LST (landing ship, tank) was seriously crippled. Another burst into flames trapping many of the victims below deck and a third sank immediately, sending hundreds of U.S. soldiers and sailors to a watery grave.

It was the costliest training exercise in all of World War II. As the bodies washed ashore in days ahead, the official count rose to 749.

Quartermaster soldiers onboard LST 531 were among the hardest hit. The 3206th Quartermaster Service Company was virtually destroyed. Of its 251 officers and men, 201 were killed or wounded. The 557th Quartermaster Railhead Company also lost 69 men.

Stories

Although not famous for its stories, there are reports of strange sounds and lights being heard and seen along Slapton Sands. These are more frequently reported on the anniversary of Operation Tiger


Report by 'Sharkey', guest on the Hidden Realms Investigation.

Second Star To The Right And Straight On Till Morning

Paranormal Investigating can often lead to investigators doing things that they would never have considered doing otherwise. It can give you some wonderful experiences and take you to all kinds of beautiful places and sometimes even if you don’t experience anything that could be classed as truly paranormal and ghostly you can still have a great night enjoying the beauty of your surroundings.

My latest investigation took me to Slapton Sands on the South Devon Coast as a guest of the Hidden Realms Paranormal Investigation team. The date of our investigation was significant as it was the anniversary of Operation Tiger.

Operation Tiger

Shortly after midnight on 28 April 1944, nine German torpedo boats moved into Lyme Bay, along the southern coast of England at Slapton Sands. Drawn in by heavier than normal radio traffic, they suddenly found themselves caught up in the midst of Operation Tiger- one of several amphibious exercises secretly being conducted by the Allies in preparation for the Normandy Landing.

In minutes the German torpedoes hit their mark. One LST (landing ship, tank) was seriously crippled. Another burst into flames trapping many of the victims below deck and a third sank immediately, sending hundreds of U.S. soldiers and sailors to a watery grave.
It was the costliest training exercise in all of World War II. As the bodies washed ashore in days ahead, the official count rose to 749.

Quartermaster soldiers onboard LST 531 were among the hardest hit. The 3206th Quartermaster Service Company was virtually destroyed. Of its 251 officers and men, 201 were killed or wounded. The 557th Quartermaster Railhead Company also lost 69 men.

The brave men who died that day contributed to the success in France six weeks later.

The Investigation

Although not famous for it’s hauntings, There are reports of strange sounds and lights being heard and seen along Slapton Sands. These are more frequently reported on the anniversary of Operation Tiger. Having met up with Christine, Dennis and Betty from hidden realms at the Start Bay Inn at Torcross we started to plan just where along over the 2 miles of beach we should set up for the night. Dennis is convinced that the best chance of any activity is at the far end of the sands near Strete so we set off from the Inn at last orders and eventually find the car park and having wrapped up well against the often chilly wind make our way to the beach.

We are all struck by the beauty of the night. Living in major towns and cities we do not often get to see the night sky in all of its glory due to light pollution but stood here on this crystal clear night we are left in awe as the full glory of the heavens are revealed. The sky is alive with bright stars and our hopes of seeing a shooting star are soon fulfilled as a bright meteor streaks across the sky with several more being spotted throughout the night.

The water is very still and all is quiet save the occasional sound of small waves lapping at the shore. The powerful beam of the Start Point Lighthouse could be seen sweeping Lyme Bay and playing across Slapton Sands. We settled down, Betty and Dennis on portable canvas chairs and Chris and I on rugs and for a good while we just watched the skies, picking out passing jets, seeing meteors, guessing what the unknown moving lights we occasionally saw overhead were and just generally chilling out in such marvellous surroundings. I hadn’t layed underneath a starry sky like this since I was a young teenager and like a westcountry Peter Pan I felt the years roll away and felt my youth returning.

We weren’t expecting anything to happen much before 0100 Hrs. The time of the German E Boat attack is variously reported as between 0100 Hrs and 0230 Hrs on the 28/4/1944. As 0100 Hrs approached we decided to take some photographs and immediately captured some light anomalies or Orbs. Great debate surrounds the nature of Orbs and I don’t ever say they are paranormal. I just note them and add them to reports for others to speculate on. There had been heavy rain throughout the day and the sand and vegetation were still damp so I suppose they could be attributed to water droplets in the air but there was no precipitation forming on equipment or personal gear and the air seemed quite free of moisture.

Christine, who is a sensitive, now tries to tune into any spirits that may be with us hoping to contact at least one of the souls who perished that fateful day in 1944. She begins to sense the presence of someone called Steve Stevenson who she says died trapped behind what sounds to me as a bulkhead door on a ship.

I have worked all of my career onboard British naval ships as an electrician in Devonport Dockyard in Plymouth so although Christine struggles to understand the things she is describing, her descriptions make perfect sense to me. She describes Steve Stevenson as being in charge of something and sees him stood in front of racks of items which he is looking after and distributing. Although she can’t make too much sense of it what she is describing matches a naval ships store room. Onboard large ships are storerooms where things like bedding, mattresses, overalls, clothing and tools are kept and distributed to ships staff on demand by stores officers and personnel and I suspect that this is what Christine is in touch with. Now I was not too familiar with Operation Tiger although I knew the E boats had destroyed several craft in 1944.

On returning after the investigation I looked up the details and found the following -

‘Quartermaster soldiers onboard LST 531 were among the hardest hit. The 3206th Quartermaster Service Company was virtually destroyed. Of its 251 officers and men, 201 were killed or wounded. The 557th Quartermaster Railhead Company also lost 69 men.’

The quartermasters are the army and navy’s supply chain. Here is a description of their role straight from an Army web site. –

‘The Quartermaster Corps is the logistical centre point for all Army operations. Quartermaster Officers are responsible for making sure equipment, materials and systems are available and functioning for missions. More specifically, the Quartermaster Officer provides supply support for Soldiers and units in field services, aerial delivery and material and distribution management.’

It may be that Mr Stevenson was a Quartermaster soldier. Although I am a sceptic by and large I ask myself why Christine would have sensed a spirit and describe his job that could well fit the description of a Quartermaster Soldier. If she had come across the information on Google I very much doubt she would have connected the term ‘Quatermaster Soldier’ with someone who worked in a ships store or been involved in the logistical supply and support chain. I don’t believe she is some kind of military historian and would have no experience of working onboard Naval vessels. Anybody making it up or lying would surely come up with a spirit of a Marine who was blown up or something like that. She also described the bulkhead door in good detail.

She also was coming up with the letters ‘TR’ in relation to a ship which seemed to make no sense to her or the rest of us but after research I wonder if she was actually picking up the term ‘T4’ which was the designation of the convoy that was attacked.

Quite often sounds were heard as if someone was walking on the sand but there was nobody in sight. Dennis, Betty and Christine were picking up a spirit that seemed to be walking around us but attempts by us to gather further information on him proved unsuccessful apart from the name ‘Archie Andrews’ being picked up. As the night wore on the chill factor was setting in and Dennis and Betty decided to return to their car to warm up at around 0230 Hrs while Christine and I decided to walk along the beach towards Blackpool Sands. We were both startled at times by what appeared to be voices coming from the inland side of the beach and heard the occasional footstep behind us but upon turning round nobody was to be found. After 15 minutes we headed back the way we came and called it a night.

Conclusion

The best part of the investigation for me was Christine’s description of Steve Stevenson, his apparent role and the way he died trapped behind a bulkhead door. Her description made immediate sense to me with over 30 years of Warship experience even if she struggled to understand it. The research I did would seem to back up her thoughts to some extent and I find that very interesting. Although nothing spectacular was seen or heard, orbs were captured and strange sounds such as footsteps and what sounded like voices were audible on occasion.. To sit on that beach in such wonderful conditions was a truly magical experience and I hope we repeat the investigation at the next anniversary. My thanks to all at Hidden realms for inviting me.

The Campaign For Dark Skies

Driving home from Slapton Sands I was struck by just how long it has been since I have seen that many stars and how beautiful the night sky really is. As I came back towards the city Of Plymouth I could see the ever increasing yellow/orange glow blotting out every star from 25 miles out. I am old enough to remember different times, times when I could sit on the back doorstep picking out all the constellations with ease, times now long gone, wiped out by the curse of man made light pollution. We are losing something very beautiful and awe inspiring. Is it lost forever? Only if we let it be. Please support the Campaign For Dark Skies by visiting

http://www.britastro.org/dark-skies/

Help to fight light pollution so that future generations of children and adults can experience the sense of awe and wonder that I did as a child and that I rediscovered at Slapton Sands

Report by Chris

We parked our cars on the car-park and walked down to a stretch of beach which we all felt 'drawn to' and waited for the early hours of Monday morning 28th April at around 02.00 onwards. I 'linked into' a man who was on board a ship and was in a room with lots of shelves which were stacked with blankets, boxes, metal cups/plates, dried foods, in fact all sorts of items stacked everywhere. This seemed to be there area where he worked. I then saw a heavy metal door swing back and trap him behind it. He was unable to push it back open again as it was being held in place by the weight of rushing water. I described the door as thick metal, it had rounded edges to it (instead of square) there was a locking mechanism of some description which ran across the middle of it with metal struts which ran along the width and length of the door. Sharkey, who has worked in the dockyard for many years, asked me questions about this mechanism and verified that this was a bulkhead door.

I could also see a table which had seating down one side of it, the table was empty but its contents seemed to be scattered about which looked like metal plates and cups. I described these to Sharkey and he verified that these would be the types of utensils that would be used, metal with an enamel type covering. I asked for the man's name was given the name Stevie Stephenson (Sanderson?) from Illanois (not sure how you spell Illanois). He seemed to be very anxious about something that was stored in a lower area of the boat which contained something to do with landing). I also asked for the name of the boat/ship and was shown a large T followed by a small letter or digit which I thought looked like an R. I was also given the name Trident.

After this the link weakened and we walked to another area on the beach and tried to link in again. This time I 'linked in' with a man who gave his name as Archie Andrews. This man was in respiratory distress and was in great pain each time he breathed in. It was as though his had inhaled acrid smoke/fumes which had burned his lungs. I was shown an engine room filled with smoke.

The next 'link' I was given was when a group of men (in spirit) stood before me. One of the men held a large book which had a rigid looking cover and a heavy metal spine. He held this book out to me and I was given this message, 'Remember us, don't forget us'. I was given the impression that this book contained the names and address's of many men who had lost their lives, but were still unaccounted for. They wanted their familes to know where they were (their remains) and how they had died. I then lost the link.

The next day Sharkey went through some of the records on the internet that are available about that night and found the following.

'Six Quartermaster units sustain losses due to enemy action during training for the D-Day Invasion. The 3206th Quartermaster Service Company sustained the heaviest losses of any unit the night of 27-28th Aprill 1944.' (www.qmmuseum.lee.army.mil/d-day/tiger.htm)
So this may account for the fact that I saw this man in a room containing lots of supplies.

I asked for the name of the vessel and was shown a large T followed by one letter or digit which I thought looked like an R. This is what Sharkey found. 'During the night of 27-28th April 1944 eight LSTs (Landing Ship, Tank) in convoy T-4 were proceeding at about five knotts...' So the convoy that the vessel was part of was called T-4.

As for the name that I was given of Stevie Stephenson (Sanderson?) Dennis had a look an a site (www.abmc.gov/search/detailwwnew.php) and found the following. James W. Stephenson, Private First Class, 3206th Quartermaster Service Company, died 28th April 1944, Missing in Action or Buried at Sea. The first name was not the same as the one I was given and we have thought about this and think that perhaps he may have been known as 'Stevie' due to his Surname, a sort of 'nick-name'. This man was aboard the 3206th which was the heaviest hit vessel (a stores ship) on the night of April 28th 1944 and lost his life.

We have not as of yet found a person that matches up with Archie Andrews.

Dennis has had a look at the reported casualty figures and there seems to be a deficit of those accounted for. Could this be what the men with the book were trying to tell us?