THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
Two sisters of the Budden family; Marjorie Gover (91) and Georgina Hutchings (94) of Hamworthy, Poole, Dorset remember D-Day preparations as if it were yesterday.
Many US Army personnel were stationed in Hamworthy, Poole, and Dorset in general, particularly in time for the landings. Both ladies still remember the many times they came across their new residents.
Marjorie recalls the fun times in particular, when both ladies wore polka dot dresses and jumped on the trucks to the nearby camp in Blandford, which had a dance hall: “Ena and I would go to the dances, I wore red and she wore blue - I was only small, 4ft 10in, so they made me dance with the tallest fella!” she added “The Americans thought this was very funny indeed”. Tom Sledge for instance, a gentle giant Native American, was 6 feet 5 inches tall.
She can recall the times as a teenager that her Mother Hilda would help with washing and ironing for the soldiers and how her brother Robert Budden (now 86) would receive Hershey bars and chewing gum as treats.
In fact, many of the soldiers became so thankful for the assistance of the local family they gave them additional tins of SPAM. The whole country was in the midst of rationing, so to be caught in possession of tinned meat would have severe consequences. Their father George therefore would bury the empty tins in the garden rather than risk being discovered. About thirty years later, whilst digging the garden, it was a shock for a lot of old rusty tins to be discovered.
Because of the secrecy of the D-Day preparations, American soldiers as young as 18 were not allowed to write home to their worrying families. This was another good deed undertaken by their mother Hilda. One of those young men, Carl Dahlgren from Philadelphia, who used to man an anti-aircraft gun, was re-visiting Hamworthy for the first time after the war in 1972. He remembered a few landmarks and finally found his way to the house where the Budden family still lived. He saw George Budden in the garden and was somewhat pleasantly surprised when George coolly said; “Hello Carl”. Carl was knocked out both by the family still living there and that they recognized him. Many trips followed in both directions.
Marjorie’s sister Georgina Hutchings recalls her time working in the local munitions factory in Lake Road: “I used to go up to Metalbox and help make all the ammunitions; I can still remember the smell of cordite and the factory fumes from the chimneys, which have gone now”.
Life could have been very different for Great-Grandmother Marjorie, who was at one time engaged to a soldier from West Virginia in the US, she recalled “Jack Burford and I were engaged, but it didn’t last long, I did still write to him after the war” in fact Marjorie still gets letters from across the Atlantic from American families who want to find about more about their loved ones. Many of which never came home.
During World War II Poole was the third-largest embarkation area for the D-Day landings. In total around 80 landing craft containing US personnel left Poole Harbour for Operation Overlord and Omaha Beach. It was also home to RAF Hamworthy, which was used by the Royal Navy, was known as HMS Turtle and was used for training purposes for the landings.
Marjorie, her mother, and her brother Robert joined residents for their local street party to celebrate the end of the war on VE day.