Exercise Smash 80th Anniversary at Studland Bay APRIL 2024

🗓️ Wednesday 3rd – Friday 5th April 2024

To mark 80 years since the full-scale WWII rehearsal for D-Day at Studland Bay, there’ll be a range of commemorative events to mark the anniversary.

The operation was called Exercise Smash and was the largest live ammunition exercise of the war, with some 10,000 men taking part, of whom six sadly lost their lives.

Studland was chosen for the task due to its similarity to the beaches of Normandy and was also identified as a possible invasion site.

Guided Walk: Discovering WW2 at Studland

Learn the fascinating history of Studland Bay and village on this guided walk around the WWII structures that still remain in the area today, including Fort Henry, from which King George VI and Winston Churchill watched the Exercise.

  • Timings: 2pm – 4pm
  • Meeting point: Knoll Beach visitor centre, Ferry Road, BH19 3AQ
  • Cost: £5 (*SOLD OUT*)

Valentine Tank Display at Knoll Beach

Come and view the world’s last working Valentine Duplex Drive (amphibious) tank at Studland Bay’s Knoll Beach and watch as it’s driven up and down the strand from Knoll Beach to Shell Bay and back.

You can learn more about Exercise Smash and the history of these tanks as they were then and now.

  • Timings: The tank display will be on Knoll Beach in the afternoon of Thursday 4th and throughout the day on Friday 5th April (check timings at the beach office on the day)
  • Cost: Free

Exhibition & Talks

Head to Studland village hall to examine artefacts and ordnance recovered from Studland Bay by the Isle of Purbeck Sub Aqua Club (IPSAC), along with photographs, pathé reels and personal stories.

The exhibition gives a fascinating insight into the remaining tanks on the seabed, and displays will recount how the Ministry of Defence took over large parts of Studland village in preparation for Exercise Smash.

There will also be a series of talks on the morning of Friday 5th April, including from retired Major Graeme Green, who will present the journey of 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards, Nick Reed from IPSAC and John Pearson, restorer and owner of the Valentine tank.

  • Venue: Studland village hall, Heath Green Road, BH19 3BT
  • Cost: Free
  • Booking not required, just come along (seating for talks is on a first come, first served basis)


  • Wednesday 3rd April: 10am – 3pm – Exhibition
  • Thursday 4th April: 10am – 3pm – Exhibition
  • Friday 5th April: 10am – 11.30am – Talks
  • Friday 5th April: 12.30pm – 3pm – Exhibition