Random Devonian observations


Sherman tank recovered from the sea at Slapton Sands, which serves as a memorial to the secret Exercise Tiger carried out in April 1944.


A secret from WW2 In April 1944 a major landing exercise, “Exercise Tiger” was undertaken at Slapton Sands, Devon, in preparation for D-Day. Many men boarded Landing Ship Tanks (LSTs) which were loaded with tanks, jeeps, weapons and ammunition. All ships gathered in Lyme Bay and began their journey to Slapton Sands. Tragically, a typographical error on the radio frequency was made which prevented the ships of being warned of enemy activity in the English Channel. As the LSTs made their trip to Slapton Sands, German E-Boats approached the convoy and began firing torpedoes. Two of the LSTs were sunk quickly. Others were hit and critically damaged. Approximately 639 American soldiers lost their lives that day. The survivors were forbidden to talk of the events under threat of court martial - as a practice for D-Day, the exercise had to remain secret. More info here.


Another beautiful day on the 630-mile south west coastal path...

Its all relative. Each time I stay at an Airbnb I mention to the host what I’m doing. A few days ago I (together with Emmanuel Nyirinkindi and Muneer Ferozie), stayed at a place in Dartmouth. The gentleman who ran the B&B mentioned that his daughter had done some walking. And that there were a couple of books by her in the bookshelf. Indeed she had! She left home at 16 to walk from to John O’Groats to Land’s End. At 18 she walked from New York to Los Angeles. Followed by Australia, Africa and Europe, and then the US again. More about Ffyona Campbell here.


Emmanuel, Muneer and I about to walk down, down, down, to be followed by what seemed to be double the height the other side of the valley...

Unsung heroes. Waiting at a bus stop in the little Devon village of Malborough, at the end of a long walk. Car pulls up, and a man of about 70 steps out, replete with brush. He starts sweeping up the litter and leaves which have accumulated at the bus stop. Thinking that he worked for the bus company, I asked whether he knew if the bus was on time. He smiled and explained that he was a simply a resident of the village who liked the bus stop to be clean and tidy. Every Thursday afternoon, for the last 20 years, he had visited that stop to clean it up. As he spoke, the bus came, and I wished him well, and said how much I appreciated his commitment.


One of my "treasure hunt envelopes" was to be opened upon spotting an enchanting tree. I chose this magnificent old oak, which has been overlooking the Dart river for several hundred years. You can imagine it featuring in a Thomas Hardy story...

Cancer Research UK
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Cancer Research UK is a registered charity in England and Wales (1089464), Scotland (SC041666) and the Isle of Man (1103). A company limited by guarantee. Registered company in England and Wales (4325234) and the Isle of Man (5713F). Registered address: Angel Building, 407 St John Street, London EC1V 4AD.

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