POSSIBLY the last survivor of World War Two's largest live fire exercise, which took place off the coast of Studland in preparation for the D-Day landings, has been located.

The Valentine 75 Project, mapping the history of seven top secret tanks that sunk during Exercise Smash, is being carried out by the Isle of Purbeck Sub Aqua Club (IPSAC).

Project lead Nick Reed said: "Following the project's appearance on the Channel Four programme 'Britain at Low Tide', Albert Price's daughter contacted us to say he would like to meet.

"In mid-April two of the project team, myself and John Pearson, went to visit him at his home in the West Midlands.

"We spent a fascinating couple of hours listening to him recount his exploits."

Mr Reed believes Albert may be the very last survivor of the exercise.

Six weeks before the Normandy landings, wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill, King George VI and General Dwight D. Eisenhower - Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces - met at Fort Henry, near Studland, to watch a rehearsal of the assault

As Exercise Smash unfolded, a number of 'Valentines' tanks - which had been equipped with propellers and canvas skirts to make them amphibious - were deployed.

However, rough seas claimed seven of them with the loss of six men.

The Valentine 75 Project was launched to map the history of these tanks, their crews and the men who lost their lives on April 4, 1944.

Mr Price, aged 93, who now lives in the West Midlands, was a crewman on one of the seven Valentines that sank.

He was rescued, given a tot of rum and told to tell no-one of his experience.

Six weeks later he was in one of the tanks that landed just ahead of the main invasion force on Gold Beach.

Less than a week later his tank was hit by a 75mm German anti-tank gun. As he escaped from the burning vehicle he was machine-gunned by German infantry.

Badly wounded, it took five days before he reached hospital in England.

"It was a real privilege and honour to hear the story of this World War II veteran," said Mr Reed. "What was really impressive was the modest and matter of fact way he told the story.

"It was almost as if he was describing a day out.

"We owe a lot to his generation and we are hoping that he will be able to come to the 75th anniversary event next year."

IPSAC began this season’s underwater project work with a dive on the complete Valentine tank, where divers laid a wreath to commemorate the six men who lost their lives in Exercise Smash.

Survey work will continue throughout the summer, assessing the condition of the tanks and mapping the remains. The IPSAC team will also be carrying out a wildlife survey of the sunken tanks to record how they have been colonised.

On May 31 the club will be holding a try dive at the Purbeck Sports Centre Wareham, for anyone interested in learning to dive.

Once trained the new divers will be able to visit the wrecks and take part in the project.

Contact club chairman Chris Dunkerly on chris@ipsacdivers.co.uk or phone Nick Reed on 07711 272277 for further details.