HQs, billets and campsites

This house was

the headquarters

of

the 47th Infantry Regt.

9th Division

United States Army

1943 to D-Day 6th June 1944

reads the plaque beside the hanging basket of flowers. The officers who lived and worked here must have been delighted to occupy this beautiful Georgian house for a few months. But what about the other ranks  – where did they live?

There was a camp of pre-fabricated huts where the mobile home park in The Dean is today. The GIs would have called them ‘Quonset huts’. The brick-built office is believed to have been the American cook house, and I think Hambone Junior must have known it well. Firstly, he was named after one of the army cooks and secondly, he was run over by a truck in The Dean. Let’s hope he enjoyed plenty of titbits whilst he lived there.

The Old Post House (Broad Street), the Old Perins Building (Shapla Tandoori), the offices over Wessex Pharmacy and parts of The Sun (now a private house in East Street) were also requisitioned.

Further out of town, Titchbourne Park was a major hutted camp, as was The Grange at Northington. A friend has told me that officers from the camp at Northington were billeted in the cottages at Abbotstone. The Grange itself was the headquarters of the 9th Division. On 24th March 1944, Prime Minister Winston Churchill held a meeting with General Eisenhower and General Omar Bradley in the ballroom at The Grange – only the best Greek Revival architecture for the top brass.

Iris Crowfoot

Sources

2 thoughts on “HQs, billets and campsites”

  1. Having grown up living in The Dean Arms, I remember the American servicemen very well although I was only 3/4 years old. In particular, going with my Mother and Grandmother to the canteen of their camp in the Dean and enjoying ring doughnuts and butterscotch pudding!

    I don’t think the brick building was actually there at that time and can remember the canteen and cookhouse being further into the camp about level with the top of the Dean school grounds as we used to cut across the grounds to get there. I know I saw Hambone on a number of occasions but am sorry to say I can’t, unfortunately visualise him!

    Several of the Americans kept in touch with the family for many years after the war and I received a lovely doll which one of them sent to me on his return to his family in the States.

    1. Dear Ann, thank you very much for sharing your memories of growing up in The Dean Arms. I’m aware that there will be inaccuracies in the historical record (the bit about the cookhouse actually came from a document in the Hampshire Record Office!) and so its great to set the record straight with someone who was actually there at the time.
      Iris

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *