THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
After listening to some elderly residents who told me that in the field behind my house there were American troops billeted during WW2 in preparation for D-Day, I decided to collect and find out as much details as possible about who they were and what happened to them.
In the same large field well separated and protected by fences and armed guards there was a Prisoner of War camp. There were a few similar locations where this happened, as there were just over a thousand POW camps in the UK during WW2. Another location was Tidworth, Wiltshire where POW camps were located in the same vacinity to that of the allied troops. As a matter of interest Tidworth had three POW camps at various times.
Westbury also had a General Quartermaster Depot G-47, apparently it was one of the thirty or so General depots that the Americans either built or requisitioned from existing buildings from the British.
These depots played an integral part in Operation Bolero, which was the building up of troops and supplies in the United Kingdom in preparation for the D-Day Normandy landings.
In my research so far I've realised just how crucial logistics were in the preparations for D-Day, not only for the Normandy landings but for successful continuance until the end of the war. Materials such as the soldiers uniform to the ammunition in his weapon, food and water, fuel (gasoline) for the vehicles and medicine etc. The list of required materials is endless.
Materials not only had to be supplied at the right time, at the right place, they also had to be maintained and readily available for our military, auxiliary services and civilians. If they weren't, then the outcome of D-Day would have been different.
Westbury had a relatively small General Quartermaster depot G-47 when compared to the larger ones in London and Liverpool. The G-47 depot had a rail link to the main railway network which would have made it very useful and adaptable.
The Americans built a spur line from the main railway line in Westbury into the depot where it branched out like the branches of a tree. The rail lines ran parallel with the front of the Nissen huts. This made it easier to load and unload materials which included ammunition into their storage space.
I didn't realise the full extent of the Americans being in Westbury during WW2. There were many towns and villages similar to Westbury throughout the UK, especially in southern England that our allies were stationed in.
Over 1.5 million American servicemen came to the UK during WW2. I would like to know anything about those who were stationed in the Westbury area. If you have any information, whether it's a postcard, letters or photos I would be pleased to hear from you. I am carrying out this history project in part through my own interest and curiosity but also for it to be recorded and become part of local history.
These events happened over 75 years ago and many of those who were involved, who would have known something about what happened are no longer with us, but memories of those and their families and friends that are still alive are invaluable.
You can contact David via e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org