WE were delighted to hear from reader Roger Holehouse following an Echo article on a project which is mapping the history of seven top secret Second World War tanks.

Historians and divers at The Isle of Purbeck Sub Aqua Club (IPSAC) have been working on the Valentine 75 project for around two years.

Six men lost their lives when seven 'Valentine' tanks sank in an exercise off Studland six weeks ahead of the D-Day landings on April 4, 1944.

IPSAC is planning to have divers place wreaths on the seven tanks on the 75th anniversary of the men's deaths on April 4, 2019. An exhibition is also being planned for the Discovery Centre at Knoll Beach.

Roger got in touch after finding the article interesting.

He writes: "As an ex-sailor they look pretty frightening contraptions to me even in calm conditions. In your photos most of the crew seem to be sat out on top (so able to get away if it sank) but the driver would presumably be still down in the hull in the normal driving position.

"That might account for the correlation between tanks lost (7) and crew lost (6); I’d guess that all of those were drivers who didn’t wriggle free in time. Clearly the other crew, while on top for the photos, would under action conditions have had to be under cover in the turret and equally at risk of being trapped in a swamping."

Roger volunteers at Lawrence of Arabia's former home, Clouds Hill, in Dorset.

He said: "Last year I spoke to an elderly gentleman visiting Clouds Hill who had served in these tanks on D-Day. Sadly I didn’t think to ask for contact details but he did reveal that they were equipped with short duration breathing aids to give them a few minutes air to allow them to escape if the tank flooded.

"And they were floated out much closer to shore than at Studland. All the results of lessons learned in the trials I guess. So perhaps the lives lost in the Studland tragedy were not entirely in vain."

Thanks to Roger for his interesting comments on this Second World War tank tragedy.