Locations of US forces in Somerset, 1944

Discussion in 'US Units' started by Jeremy Churchill, May 23, 2009.

  1. Jeremy Churchill

    Jeremy Churchill Junior Member

    Hi there,

    If this post is in the wrong place, I'm sorry - I've had a look round and there doesn't seem to be a forum or sub-forum that covers it.

    Have just been talking to an old gent who says he remembers American tanks parked up in all the steep-sided "hollow" lanes round here (between Yeovil and Crewkerne, in south Somerset), camouflaged against air reconnaissance, in the build-up to D-Day. They weren't just passing through - they were here for a while, apparently.

    I realise that "tanks" could be anything from armoured scout cars up though half-tracks and self-propelled guns to the genuine article, but would like to know a bit more. Every book I have mentions how Devon, Somerset, Dorset, etc. were stuffed to the gills with troops and supplies, and of how many units passed through immediately before and after D-Day itself, but there doesn't seem to be much mention of who actually stayed here for any length of time.

    Does anyone know of a book, archive document or any other source which lists the US Army units stationed in Somerset in 1943-4? I know the 3rd Armored Division's HQ was at Bruton, but most of the units seem to have been stationed in Wiltshire. The other US divisional histories seem to be even vaguer on details like this.

    Any ideas?

    Regards

    Jeremy Churchill
     
  2. ballyhoo

    ballyhoo Junior Member

    Hello
    Found this by chance whilst looking for info, I know an old chap from Hinton St George, who recalls that early in 1944 the US 29th infantry being camped up just off a lane just west of Hinton in a field on what was the Hinton Park estate, they got around on bicycles and every night some cycled to the other end of the village to use the bake house to produce bread for the camp. They were there for some months leading up to Dday, about 1500 of them and many died in action on Omaha beach Normandy. Also, he recalls seeing paratroopers dropping out of planes over nearby Dinnington, practising their drops ready for Dday, these were probably from the nearby Blackdown airfields. I dont know of any books either and thats all I have, hope it may be of interest to you.
    Regards
    John Buckingham

    Hi there,

    If this post is in the wrong place, I'm sorry - I've had a look round and there doesn't seem to be a forum or sub-forum that covers it.

    Have just been talking to an old gent who says he remembers American tanks parked up in all the steep-sided "hollow" lanes round here (between Yeovil and Crewkerne, in south Somerset), camouflaged against air reconnaissance, in the build-up to D-Day. They weren't just passing through - they were here for a while, apparently.

    I realise that "tanks" could be anything from armoured scout cars up though half-tracks and self-propelled guns to the genuine article, but would like to know a bit more. Every book I have mentions how Devon, Somerset, Dorset, etc. were stuffed to the gills with troops and supplies, and of how many units passed through immediately before and after D-Day itself, but there doesn't seem to be much mention of who actually stayed here for any length of time.

    Does anyone know of a book, archive document or any other source which lists the US Army units stationed in Somerset in 1943-4? I know the 3rd Armored Division's HQ was at Bruton, but most of the units seem to have been stationed in Wiltshire. The other US divisional histories seem to be even vaguer on details like this.

    Any ideas?

    Regards

    Jeremy Churchill
     
  3. wtid45

    wtid45 Very Senior Member

    Unless you already have done so I can look in my copy of this in the morning.
     

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  4. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Hi John and Jeremy, two good posts from new members, welcome to the forum.
    Not a subject I know anything about I'm afraid but I am sure there will be responses soon from other members.

    Mike
     
  5. RWM-1948

    RWM-1948 Junior Member

    A good book is "OPERATION Bolero" The Americans in Bristol and the West Country 1942-45.
    By Ken Wakefield, 1994 ISBN 0 947554 51 3
     
  6. ballyhoo

    ballyhoo Junior Member

    A good book is "OPERATION Bolero" The Americans in Bristol and the West Country 1942-45.
    By Ken Wakefield, 1994 ISBN 0 947554 51 3


    Thanks, I'll chase this book up.

    John B
     
  7. Holtsedge

    Holtsedge Member

    Hi there, I am also from Somerset and a member of our village history society. The US Military were based here and trained just up the road as part of their preperations for D-Day. We have a website covering many aspects of our villages history, but what might interest you in particular is the Holford at War section https://sites.google.com/site/holfordhistorysociety/home/wartime-holford. I am trying to find any information on the American Medics based at Alfoxton Park in Holford, I know it was 40th Tented General Field Hospital and they arrived in 1943 but little else. Apparently the Americans trained at the tank range in Kilton, were based at Alfoxton, Crowcombe,St. Audries, Doniford and Minehead. Hope this is of some help.
     
  8. red ling

    red ling Member

    Hi, I live in Wiltshire on the Somerset border and I believe the US army were at Marston House, Frome during WW11. and the story is that they tried to drive a tank up the stairs!!!
    The house now belongs to "Yeomans" aggregate.
    It is a historical site where there was an old village and a moat.
     
  9. Holtsedge

    Holtsedge Member

    What a great story, I gather the US Army were all over the SW in their preperations for D-Day - thanks for the reply
     
  10. Holtsedge

    Holtsedge Member

    Something else I was told only today, the lanes and fields of West Somerset were used for tank training as they where simular to Normandy. The coastline from Hinkley Point to Kilve was all part of the tank firing range. As you will see if you visit the Holford History Society website, some of the range buildings are still there.
    Coastal Defence
    Holford at War
     
  11. chevykev

    chevykev Junior Member

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  12. Earthican

    Earthican Senior Member

    The original question caught my interest and I decided to see if I could use a process of elimination. Checking other divisions in the area it seems the 3d Armored Division was the most likely.

    The other possibility are the independent tank battalions (guessing about ten, like the 741st Tank Battalion) . A list of candidates could be generated by word search of the US Army official history online.

    Another possibility is the vast number of heavy artillery that used tracked prime movers. Not much information is available about these units.

    Since armor required some facilities, checking the history of local British Army bases that may have been "rented" to the US Army might yield some results.

    2dAD:
    27 Nov - Tidworth - Wiltshire - England
    3dAD:
    17 Sep - Bruton (Redlynch House) - Somerset - England
    4thAD:
    12 Jan - Chippenham (Greenways) - Wiltshire - England


    Major units of the 3dAD

    36th Armored Infantry Regiment
    32d Armored Regiment
    33d Armored Regiment

    23d Armored Eng Bn
    83d Armored Rcn Bn

    391st Armored Field Artillery Battalion
    67th Armored Field Artillery Battalion
    54th Armored Field Artillery Battalion
     
  13. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    At least six of the US Assault ships/ troop ships left the Bristol Channel for both Utah and Omaha. It would seem that many of the Mechanised Transport Liberty ships left from there as well. So far the ports mentioned have all been in South Wales, so either the troops were shipped across from Somerset or some of the MTs (with 500 troops and 120 vehicles) sailed from the Bristol area. There is another possibility - to avoid congestion at the south coast ports, back-up materiel and troops were based as far as sixty miles inland and only brought to the ports required.
     
  14. Earthican

    Earthican Senior Member

    Found this for the 3d AD
    http://www.3ad.com/history/wwll/dugan.pages/saga.pages/2england.htm#anchor453354

    Found this for Somerset. Few divisional units (same as those above), mostly Services of Supply (later Service Force) units. There are no dates given; surely many units changed over time, particularly after D-Day.
    http://www.airfieldinformationexchange.org/community/showthread.php?6849-Army-Camps-Barracks-Somerset
    (copied in case link disappears)
     

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