A SPECIAL event to mark Studland's key role in preparations for D-Day will take place on October 1.

Wartime tragedy and romance will be the focus of the event which looks back at the area's key role in the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe in 1944.

The Dive into D-Day event marks the first season of an underwater archaeology project to research and record the remains of Valentine amphibious tanks which sank at Studland during rehearsals for the invasion itself.

It also sees book signings by Jane Cable, author of Another You, a literary romance connected to Studland’s wartime past, as well as a guided walk and talks.

The Isle of Purbeck Sub Aqua Club this year began diving on the remains of seven Valentine Duplex Drive (DD) tanks which still lie on the seabed off Studland.

They sank with the loss of six lives in April 1944 while taking part in Operation Smash, the main dress rehearsal for D-Day.

The club will be displaying their findings so far in a photographic exhibition as part of the Valentine 75 project which takes place in the run-up to the 75th anniversary of Operation Smash in 2019.

The free event starts at 11am with a guided walk around Studland’s main Second World War locations, including Fort Henry where Winston Churchill, King George VI and General Dwight D Eisenhower watched part of Operation Smash on 18 April, 1944.

From 1.30pm to 3.30pm there is a series of short talks by Jane Cable, National Trust ranger Stewart Rainbird, Nick Reed of the Valentine 75 Project and John Pearson, whose painstakingly restored Valentine DD tank last visited Studland in 2014.

The tragedy of Operation Smash was kept secret for decades but John was the driving force behind a memorial to those who died which has stood at Fort Henry since the 60th anniversary in 2004.

Meet at Knoll Beach Visitor Centre from 11am.