The American Occupation Of Elveden Park 1942 - 1945.
Early in the war Elveden Hall was requisitioned for use by the British Army, becoming the Brigade Headquarters. Brigadier E.D. Fanshawe was the Commanding Officer, HRH the Duke of Gloucester was one of his staff.
The American servicemen and women (WACS) arrived in the Autumn of 1942, the Hall becoming the Headquarters of the 3rd Bombardment Division of the USAAF. Brigadier General Curtis le May was the Commanding Officer.
Nissen huts, air raid shelters, a small water tower, cinema, hospital and mortuary were erected in a very short space of time. (see map for locations).
The Estate water tower, previously used by the Home Guard for lectures and a lookout post, was relinquished to the Americans who guarded it at all times; the tower being the source of water for the hall and most of their camp, as well as their look-out post.
At this time a new sewage plant was constructed to the south of Lime Kiln wood, to cope with the much greater need imposed by the influx of so many troops.
Large numbers of jeeps and army trucks were everywhere, as were bicycles. The 'Motor Pool' and maintenance workshops were located at the Stables. I clearly remember an American tank coming though the archway into the stable yard, the noise of its tracks on the cobblestones were very frightening to a four year old boy!
With permission from Lord Iveagh many of the officers from the hall enjoyed some game shooting on the Estate, their days in the field being organised by the then Head Gamekeeper, my grandfather, Mr. Tom Turner.
I have vivid memories of the VE Day celebrations. A party was organised in the Stables quadrangle, a dais was constructed in the middle of the yard, above which a canopy was rigged , I think made from parachutes, suspended on ropes attached to three of the four faces of the building. A jazz band was set up on the dais and the band played dance music and popular songs of the time. Aged six I tasted ice-cream for the first time, the adults were supplied with copious quantities of free beer. I remember multi-coloured flares drifting down on small parachutes, illuminating the proceedings with green, red and blue light. Some of us children collected up the flare cases and parachutes, to be played with for many days to come. The American servicemen were very generous with their gifts of candy and chewing gum, our only source of sweets at that time. The ladies received cosmetics and nylons, so I am told, these were keenly sought after!
Neville W.L. Turner
see also 1947 Stained Glass Window
A Forest Heath District Council (Suffolk) Project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Millennium Festival ©2000 Designed by ArtAtac