April 2024 marked the 80th anniversary of Exercise Smash 1, the D-Day rehearsal in Dorset where amphibious Valentine tanks reached their limits, writes Phil Loder

John and Colin Pearson’s restored Valentine Mark IX Duplex Drive PHIL LODER
pictures As Credited

Special anniversaries of events that occurred during World War Two are being marked throughout 2024. D-Day will undoubtedly be one of the largest this June, and previous commemorations of the operation have mainly focused on the arrival of the assaulting Allied forces in the Normandy area.

An enormous amount of preparation went into making the airborne and seaborne landings a success, but experience from earlier in the war showed that many things could still go wrong. The outcome was not certain and even Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight D Eisenhower drafted a letter taking full responsibility if D-Day failed.

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