Build up to D-Day

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by jamesicus, May 30, 2004.

  1. jamesicus

    jamesicus Senior Member

    Even in small-town and rural Lancashire we were aware that something big was in the offing during the early spring of 1944. Every day there were convoys of jeep escorted trucks filled with troops (from temporary bases and assembly points) clogging the roads -- all heading south on feeder roads or to the great North Road (precursor of the present day M1).

    I remember that the majority of troops were American, although there were also British, Free French, Free Poles and West Indies troops. In typical Hollywood fashion, the Americans threw handfuls of sweets and chewing gum (mostly Chiclets which we were unfamiliar with) to us kids (actually, I was fifteen at this time) when they stopped on the side of the road for breaks.

    As I recall, nobody had any real idea of what was going on -- including the troops themselves. There was lots of speculation. There had been many rumors floating around that there was some kind of second front planned on the continent -- that there was going to be a massive deployment of troops to bolster the Italian campaign -- that there was going to be an invasion of France by the Allies using an expeditionary force (good guess) -- but nobody knew exactly where or when.

    Nobody I knew came close to guessing the scope, magnitude and timing of the eventual D-Day operation.
  2. angie999

    angie999 Very Senior Member

    My grandfather lived in Basingstoke during the war and he had a petrol ration as he used his car for his job an an insurance agent, visiting many farms and villages in the area.

    He told the story of seeing the main A30/A33 road down to Southampton head to tail with invasion traffic for days in the buildup period. I believe these were British units, as the American embarked further west. Of course nobody said what was afoot, but it was not an act of genius to work it out, so it is incredible that the Germans never learned the secret.

    Also, in those days the army had a Central Ammunition Depot at nearby Bramley. It closed in the 1970s and I don't know what happened to the land and buildings, but the rail line from Basingstoke to Reading used to run through the middle of it and it had perimeter fences something like eleven miles long. It was only one of four Central Ammunition Depots in Britain, but they still lacked the capacity to hold all the wartime ammunition stocks, so a number of sub-depots were created in the Bramley area. I remember when I used to live round there and you would be driving through the normal narrow Hampshire country lanes and suddenly come across a stretch of straightened, wider road, which had parking bays at intervals on either side. This would be the site of a sub-depot and the bays were collection and delivery points. Talking to people who had lived there at the time, I learned that in the build up to the invasion, these sub-depots were working night and day issuing ammunition.
  3. Danmark

    Danmark Junior Member

    I dont know if this is true but i heard that National Geographic Magazine printed an issue that had a detailed article, that talked about the Allied units stationed in the UK and the build up of Allied troops there. It was a phony article but they published it and sent it out. Hitler loved National Geographic and liked to stay informed about the world. He read the article and believed it. I think National Geographic said that General Patton was the commander of the US Army in the UK.
    Is this true?
  4. angie999

    angie999 Very Senior Member

    A question. Does anybody know where the US Army had its main ammunition depots in Britain in WWII?

    I know they had a major facility in South Wales right through to the 1970s. Anyone know when it was opened? I suspect it was WWII.

    Of course, the US storage facilities in Britain would not be on the scale of the British. British facilities had to be able to supply British forces worldwide on an ongoing basis, whereas US facilities only had to supply the US troops in Britain and in the post landing phase, as major resupply would come direct from the USA once ports were open.
  5. Chris Basey

    Chris Basey Senior Member

    As a nine-year old I, with every able bodied person in our Norfolk village, assembled on a meadow where we given instructions by one of the local Army units in weaving camouflage nets. This would have been during the month of May when it went on for at least a week. I believe that it coincided with the Whitsun school holiday week.

    It was my introduction to tea made in big urns to which Carnation milk was added straight from tins which were pierced with a bayonet. It must have been good as it was my favourite beverage thereafter - even during National Service.

    Some weeks later the whole village was evacuated to spend their day in surrounding fields and lanes whilst the Bomb Disposal people dealt with unsafe ammunition at one of the units in the village. The resulting explosion caused more war damage claims for broken windows etc. than Hitler!
  6. Dave

    Dave Junior Member

    my uncle was at Gibraltar from the start of the war in a Tunnelling companies, building the galleries in the rock,for guns and storage, after a couple of injuries doing this, his company and some others were brought back to England late 1943 early 1944 and were sent to the southern counties widening the country lanes to allow US trucks to get around... after the invasion he went to France as combat engineers, and said his worst time was entering I think Belsen camp but that was all he would say about it.
    Chris C likes this.

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