Laurie Bolton's Involvement with Exercise Tiger

     My uncle, Sgt. Louis Archer Bolton, died in Exercise Tiger, a D-Day dress rehearsal, on April 28, 1944.  He was in the tank deck on board LST 531, when it took a direct hit by two torpedoes to that area.   His body was never recovered.  His name is on the Wall of the Missing at Cambridge American Cemetery.  He was in the U. S. Army, 607th Graves Registration Company, 1st Platoon.  His platoon of 19 men were attached to the 3206th Quartermaster Service Company, and was going to be in charge of burying the dead on Utah Beach on D-Day. Only 5 men survived from his platoon, who were reassigned to another company after the tragedy.  He was born on September 17, 1924, and was only 19 years old when he died.  He was a newlywed, only having been married just under a year, but didn’t have any children.  I was born on his birthday eight years after he died.

My uncle, Sgt. Louis A. Bolton
My uncle's name on the Wall of the Missing, Cambridge American Cemetery


My father was his older brother and he served in the U.S. Navy during WWII.  Our family really didn’t know exactly what happened to my uncle until 1994, when we watched a documentary on national television with WWII veterans speaking about what happened to them in Exercise Tiger.  I contacted one of the veterans who survived from the tank deck on LST 531, and he told me what happened during the early morning hours of April 28, 1944. Because my family never really knew what took place, and his body was not recovered, my grandmother held out hope until the war was over that maybe he had been captured by the Germans and might still be alive.  My grandparents grieved for the son they lost until their dying day. I began attending the Exercise Tiger reunions in 1994 and subsequent years.  In 2003, I began hosting reunions for Exercise Tiger and brought over some veterans and family members for the 60th Anniversary in 2004, the 65th Anniversary in 2009, and a journey with veterans and family members for the beginning of 70th Anniversary Year in 2013.  It has been very rewarding and an honor to meet these men and the families.  It has helped with the feelings of loss I felt in losing an uncle I never knew.   I traveled to Slapton Sands in 2014 to pay tribute to those who perished on the actual 70th Anniversary and to unveil a plaque in honor of Ken Small.  I returned in 2015 for the 71st Anniversary with an Exercise Tiger Veteran and his nephew, along with five family members and their friend from the USA.  I continue to attend the memorial service every year to represent those who cannot be present.

On Slapton Sands Beach with Survivors in 2004

It was my privilege to meet the late Ken Small in 1994, and we will be forever grateful to him for establishing the Tank Memorial in Torcross in 1984, which gives those of us who lost loved ones, and survivors, a tangible place to come and pay tribute.  I give thanks to Dean Small who continues his father’s legacy to memorialize those who died, and to the Royal Tank Regiment who hold an annual memorial service each year in remembrance.  Words cannot express how much it means to all of us.  I also give thanks to the local officials, military representatives, and residents who attend each year.  I pay tribute to all the local citizens who were evacuated from the area in 1943, for their contribution to the cause of freedom.  It is my privilege to be present each year to represent the survivors and family members.

Ken Small and Laurie Bolton in 1994

Dean Small is Director of Exercise Tiger Memorial Ltd, a non-profit organization dedicated to the remembrance of those who died, maintenance of the Sherman Tank Memorial Site, and contact with the veterans and families.  I am privileged to be an honorary director of this organization.   An official annual ceremony is held by the Royal Tank Regiment Association, Plymouth branch, on the closest Sunday to April 28th.   Please take the time to review our website for extensive  coverage on Exercise Tiger, archival information, and inquiries regarding family members who may have been involved in this tragedy.    

Laurie Bolton and Dean Small in 2017

I pay tribute to my father, who served in the U. S. Navy during WWII.  My father died in 2007 at age 84, and he was finally reunited with his younger brother after 63 years. That brings me great comfort.
 

My Dad, Mearl Eldon Bolton

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All those who perished and survived with injuries were entitled to receive a Purple Heart

                                                           

Laurie Bolton
Exercise Tiger 
P. O. Box 708
Kingsburg, CA  93631-0708
 USA
lbolton@lightspeed.net