Tennessee Alumnus

Operation Tiger


This issue’s special report is called “Uncovering Secrets,” and it’s about a man who survived Operation Tiger in World War II and then spent much of the rest of his retirement researching the incident. I am not a World War II scholar, but my Dad is big into the history of the war. I have seen film footage of the Battle of the Bulge and the landing at Normandy on D-Day umpteen times, but I had never heard of Operation Tiger.

This photo is from the collection of research about Operation Tiger. At first, I thought these were bodies. But look closer. These are survivors.


Now-retired editor Diane Ballard wrote this story about a collection of research given to UT Knoxville’s Center for the Study of War and Society. Dr. Eugene Eckstam, who donated his collection to UT, was a doctor in the Navy during World War II and fought on D-Day. The dress rehearsal for the invasion was Operation Tiger, also known as Exercise Tiger, hold off the southern coast of England. It turned into a disaster when German torpedo boats sank two U.S. crafts and damaged a third, killing nearly 750 soldiers. News of the attack was suppressed to keep the Normandy invasion a secret. Eckstam’s ship was hit, and he was rescued. Others were not so lucky. After Eckstam retired, he devoted himself to collect as much information as he could about Operation Tiger. His collection made its way to UT after Eckstam got in touch with Charles Johnson, the founder of the center.

Diane and I were interested in this story because it demonstrates the interesting connections the University has with people who seemingly are not connected to it. Dr. Eckstam’s collection found a good home. The collection is housed in Special Collections of the UT Libraries. You can read more about it here.