NOSTALGIA: Where troops were hidden before D-Day

Where troops were stationed before the D Day landings.
Where troops were stationed before the D Day landings.
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In the last fortnight or so I have mentioned American troops billeted in the area during and after the Second World War.

As we know, leading up to D. Day there were thousands of troops located in woods around Southwick House which was requisitioned by the government and used as the headquarters for the D. Day landings.

I have been sent a map by Edwin Amey telling just how many troops, British, American and perhaps others who were based within a few miles of Waterlooville and it is quite amazing  information. The map dates from May 1, 1944 so the troops were obviously there for the lead up to the invasion of France on June 6, 1944.

Most of us have driven along the Hulbert Road from Waterlooville to Bedhampton but never saw Stakes House as it was always hidden behind the hedgerow and woodland along the road. The map tells us that within the grounds of the house were 2,500 troops along with 250 vehicles.

In woodland of Stanstead Park to the east of Rowlands Castle 2000 soldiers and  200 vehicles were hidden under the tree tops.

Along the A3 at Horndean in fields opposite Merchistoun Hall  1,500 and 215 vehicles were hidden away from any aerial viewing.

Perhaps the largest camps was at Creech Walk where to tented camps held a total of 3,850 men along with 550 vehicles of all types.

Other sites at Emsworth and north of Cowplain can also be seen on the map.

Left of Emsworth A2 on the right of the map was where the Canadians were billeted. Some ten years ago, a brass plate was placed on the site of a Nissen hut in remembrance of these men. It has since disappeared.

Edwin tells me owing the colour bar in the American forces at the time a coloured (as black men were called at the time) US regiment was based in Portsdown School, Wymering. To the bottom left the Queen Alexandra Hospital can be seen used as a transit hospital.

In all there were over 12,000 men and over 1,500 vehicles of all types plus the fuel to move them all within 20-miles of Portsmouth. Imagine they all moved off at roughly the same time, what a site it must have made and no one said a word. Wonderful.

If any ex-military person can tell me if the X in the centre of the map has a meaning I would  like to know.

With the World Cup in Russia in it final day tomorrow I wonder how many readers can remember the News columnist Jim Riordan?

He died in 2012, but wouldn't he have loved to have been part of this global festival of football.

Jim was born and bred in Portsmouth and attended the Southern Grammar school for Boys.

Alan Burnett remembers Jim  and mentioned his pithy comments on contemporary issues and criticism of injustice wherever he saw it.
Jim was also a serious academic, writer of many books on sport and also charming publications for children.
He played centre half for Moscow Spartak on two occasions under a different name and on arrival back in Portsmouth played for a team in the Portsmouth Dockyard League.
Jim also edited Pompey Pensioner for a while, as well as getting involved in schools and community activities.
I am sure many miss Jim, especially at this time when our eyes are on football in Russia.

I have received an email from one of our on line readers who lives in Neilston, East Renfrewshire, Scotland.

In 1970-71 Robert Mould  worked part time after school at Liptons in Park Parade Leigh Park. His job was to deliver groceries by bike. At Christmas 1970 he was out delivering when he heard Carols playing but could not see where they were coming from. Just the overhead he heard an aeroplane, a Hercules transport from Thorny Island with the back ramp open and loud speakers blasting out  Christmas Carols. I have mention this to numerous people who lived in Leigh Park but they all say it never happened could you ask if anyone else could remember this.

yes it did Robert. For several years as I heard them myself. can anyone else remember  this happening?

I was very disappointed with the turnout for last Saturday’s attendance in the Guildhall Square for the Naval Blue Jackets bands I must say. There were nine bands playing including a naval pipe band. They all played for twenty minutes and I don’t think I heard a repeat of any march or tune. I got down early to get a seat on the steps outside the civic office but there was no need. I think there might have been about a hundred spectators plus those walking through the square of course which I thought was quite abysmal to be honest.

There was a time when the square would have been packed but I guess those days are long behind us. A terrible shame really.