The popular coach route along the coast of south Devon, the A379 from Dartmouth to Slapton has been fully re-opened. A section of the A379 that runs between Slapton Ley nature reserve and Slapton Sands was severely damaged and rendered impassable during Storm Emma in March this year. Some parts of the road were completely washed away. After extensive re-construction work to move the road 10m inland away from the sea, the road is now fully open again.
Coach and coach tour operators will now be able to include this popular drive along the scenic route from Dartmouth to Slapton Sands in their itineraries for 2019 and beyond. Excursions to this part of south Devon will also allow passengers to once again visit the World War Two memorial located at the southern end of Slapton Sands during the 75 anniversary of D-Day.
The Sherman tank which forms the memorial is a tribute to the many hundreds of American servicemen who lost their lives in April 1944 during practice manoeuvres, Operation Tiger, for the D-Day landings on 6 June 1944.
The area around Slapton was requisitioned by the US military with the locals being evacuated due to the need for secrecy. The beach was chosen due to its similarity to the beaches of Normandy where the allied forces were going to land to liberate Europe.
During Operation Tiger, German E-Boats attacked a convoy of tank landing ships (LSTs) with a considerable loss of life. Two of the vital LSTs were sunk and two were damaged. Lives were also lost due to friendly fire during live firing exercises. To maintain morale, the loss of life was kept secret for many years. Many in the coach trade will recall the efforts of Ken Small to shed light on these tragic incidents and to set up the memorial so the men who lost their lives at Slapton got the recognition they deserved. Passengers will also be able to visit the lesser-known memorial at Slapton which was donated by the US Army. This was erected in recognition of all those who had to leave their homes in the Slapton area and recognises that without being able to train the invasion troops in the area, many more lives would have been lost on D-Day.
The coach parking facilities at Slapton are also fully open.