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Slapton Sands, Devon: American troops practice for D-Day landings with live ammunition, resulting in soldiers shooting each other, June 1944 (printed November 14, 1987)
Wire photograph on paper
7 x 9 7/16 in. (17.78 x 23.97 cm)

Creation Place: Europe
Technique: Photography
Credit Line: Restricted Gift of Michael Mattis, Judy Hochberg, and Daniel Mattis, in honor of Kathleen Stewart Howe
Accession Number: P2019.21.137

Slapton, Devon---D-Day Rehearsal Blunder: American troops practice on Slapton Sands in preparation for the D-Day landings of June 1944. The original caption states that simulated shells were used, but commanders used live ammunition to give the soldiers battle experience, resulting in young soldiers shooting each other unwittingly. The exercise ended with 749 GIs dead after German E-boats pounced. A memorial service is being held there tomorrow (Sunday).

Exercise Tiger. The deaths were caused by interception by German E-boats, who were notified through radio signals, in Lyme Bay. The United States top brass deemed the exercise a disaster, and they ordered a complete information blackout.

Wire photographs were originally transmitted over phonelines, then later, by satellite. They were first used in the early 1920s. Associated Press became a leader with this. After pigment touch-ups, etc., the print is put into a drum (like a drum scanner). The image gets converted into audio tones that are transmitted. The tones are received and beamed onto photo-sensitive paper. Wire photographs are copies without originals---they are hybrid, transmitted objects. (Britt Salvesen, Curator and Department Head, Photography Department, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, March 30-31, 2022)

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  • Overall Dimensions: 7 x 9 7/16 in. (17.78 x 23.97 cm)

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