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Fateful WWII exercise recalled

New Bedford commemorates long-secret Navy disaster

NEW BEDFORD - Deep below the deck of a hulking Navy transport ship in a windowless engine room, Vincent Ricciardi can still remember the moment he knew something had gone terribly wrong.

It was April 28, 1944, six weeks before D-day, and Ricciardi, an engineer on the Landing Ship Tank 54, was in the midst of Exercise Tiger, one of the most secretive training missions of the war. In preparation for the Normandy beach landing, a convoy of eight transporters loaded with tanks, personnel, and gear sped toward a wide, rocky beach in southwest England called Slapton Sands, where they were to practice maneuvers under live fire.

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