Will Gray writes about...
John Stocks’ “On Slapton Sands”
This is war poetry at its best. Did you know that I was stationed not too far away from Slapton. I saw movements of USA soldiers. This mishap was one of the best secrets of the war.
This was a poem that worthy of an inclusion in the 65th D-Day celebrations. I know it was published in Bewildering Stories some time ago and I feel guilty of not having read this before. A truly memorable piece of poetry.
Thank you, Will. The sort of comment that helps one to plod along... as long as there is a reader out there somewhere.
However, as you pointed out, the ‘secrecy’ is something of a British urban myth.
Just to keep our readers current, Slapton Sands was the site of a training exercise in preparation for D-Day. The maneuvers ended in disaster mainly because of weather and enemy ships that happened to be in the area. It was undoubtedly the biggest landing operation setback since the raid on Dieppe in August 1942.
Word eventually got around that the operation had been hushed up on account of the many casualties. But that seems not to have been the case: there was no point in keeping the operation secret; the enemy already knew about it. And it was overshadowed soon afterwards by the actual landings on the Normandy beaches.
Nonetheless, what Will says about John’s poem is welcome truth.