Our website was created to help the family members of those who died and participated in Exercise Tiger. Dean Small, son of the late Ken Small, continues with his father's legacy. We are endorsed by the survivors and the families.
Ralph R. Miller - LST 531
Ralph R. Miller, Coxswain
U. S. Navy
Buried in York Road Cemetery, Hanover, Pennyslvania
Brief History of Ralph R. Miller by Anna May Shaffer, Sister
Ralph was born on October 13, 1925, in Hanover, PA. He was the son of John E. & Bertha (Rudisill) Miller. He lived in Hanover all of his life, before enlisting in the Navy. He played the clarinet and was in the school band, as well as some other local bands. He was also interested in aviation.
He and his best friend, Merle Lippy, decided to join the Navy together. And they both went to the Naval Training Station in Sampson, N.Y. It was along one of the Finger Lakes in N.Y.
My brother, Ralph R. Miller enlisted in the Navy during his senior year in high school in 1943. He received his diploma in absentia at commencement exercises at Eichelberger High School. He was sent to England in December 1943. In early April 1944, Ralph was assigned to LST 531. (Landing Ship, Tanks)
In the early spring of 1944, there were training exercises held to simulate the landing that was to take place on Utah Beach. On April 27, a convoy of eight LST's left southern England after dusk, loaded with full equipment and men. It was a training exercise called "Exercise Tiger". Shortly after midnight on April 28, 1944, the convoy was attacked by German E-boats from Cherbourg, France. The convoy had only one escort ship. LST 531 and LST 507 were hit and sank. LST 289 was badly damaged. The official death toll was 639. That is more than would be killed the first day of the invasion of Utah Beach. The lessons learned that day enhanced the readiness for the D-Day landings at Normandy, France on June 6, 1944.
The families of these men who lost their lives in Exercise Tiger were never told by the military what happened the morning of April 28th. On May 3, 1984, there was a segment on 20/20 called "The Tragic Secret of Lyme Bay". This is when I first learned how my brother was killed. All the men involved in Exercise Tiger who survived were given orders not to talk about it to anyone or they would be Court Marshaled. That is how it was kept a secret all those years.
An Englishman, Ken Small, recovered a Sherman Tank from the bottom of the English Channel and used it as a memorial, at Slapton Sands, Torcross, in Southern England, to the men who lost their lives in Exercise Tiger. He also wrote a book about Exercise Tiger called "The Forgotten Dead".
In November 1995, Exercise Tiger Veterans and families of those who lost their lives were invited to Washington for Veterans Day. A wreath in memory of Exercise Tiger victims was laid at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. A plaque was dedicated in Arlington Cemetery in memory of those who lost their lives on that terrible morning. A memorial tree was also planted, next to the plaque. It was over fifty years before these men were honored with a memorial here in the United States. All those involved are grateful for this memorial. It was too late for many of the veterans to see or even hear about it.
Anna May Shaffer (sister of Ralph Miller)
MILITARY CAREER OF RALPH R. MILLER
Born on October 13, 1925
Enlisted in U.S. Navy March 26, 1943 at Harrisburg, Pa
Trained at United States Naval Training Station, Sampson, N.Y. March 1943
Transferred to A.T.B Little Creek , Virginia June 8, 1943
Transferred to A.T.B. Ft. Pierce, Florida August 4, 1943
Transferred to A.T.B. Little Creek, Virginia October 26, 1943
Transferred to A.T.B. Camp Bradford, Norfolk, Virginia November 14, 1943
Transferred to Lido Beach, Long Island, N.Y. November 29, 1943
Went to British Isles, December 21, 1943
Boarded LST 531 on April 8, 1944, at St. Mawes, England. Twenty four Navy men boarded the U.S.S.LST 531 that day.
Left Plymouth, England on April 27, 1944.
Killed on April 28, 1944, during a practice exercise in the English Channel in preparation for the D‑Day Invasion. A total of 639 men lost in "Exercise Tiger" training. Families never were told by the military what happened. Finally on May 3, 1984, there was a segment on "20/20" about "Exercise Tiger".
Received Amphibious Training in the U.S. Navy. Was promoted to Coxswain of a small landing craft (LCVP) on July 22, 1943. A crew consisted of 4 men. Ralph's crew consisted of Albert Paul Kaska from the Philadelphia area, Melvin John Jansen from the Milwaukee, WI area, and Joseph Henry Opacki from the Kalamazoo, MI area. Joseph Opacki was the only one of the crew who survived. We met Ed Kaska, the brother of Paul Kaska 6/19/86.
Ralph was buried in Brookwood Cemetery, England, which was a temporary cemetery. After the war, my parents had Ralph's remains brought back to the United States and buried in York Road Cemetery in Hanover, PA.
Submitted by Anna May Shaffer (sister of Ralph Miller)