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WWII American Army Camp

In December 1943, 31 acres of Common Farm, part of Langley Burrell estate, was requisitioned for military use as a tented camp. Subsequently, the 355th General Engineer Service Regiment, part of The Corps of Engineers of the American Army, built a base on the site, which lay south of Langley House (now Langley Park) and north of the main village.

The base was not a tented community as had been discussed initially with its owner Major Scott Ashe, but rather comprised a group of buildings, Nissen huts and timber structures on concrete bases around a central compound, complete with roads and hard standing for vehicles and a sewage treatment facility. There were two cook houses, four mess halls and a number of other buildings dispersed around the site. The creation of the camp caused problems, and over the following year, a number of complaints were made by local farmers concerning the condition of the road into the base, the disposal of its effluent and the fact that American personnel were 'accustomed to play baseball in the field adjoining' and threw their empty tins into the watercourse. However, the presence of American GIs also provided a lucrative business opportunity to the community, from laundry services to supply of alcohol, and a source of amusement to local children.

The site was occupied by the regiment for nine months until their deployment in France in July 1944, after which it was passed to the Ministry of Health. The camp was subsequently used for temporary housing, albeit initially by families who were classified as 'squatters' who dug up the ground and formed gardens around the huts. By 20 October 1950 huts at the base were vacated by their human occupants, and on 16 November 1950 the site was derequisitioned. However, the decommissioning of the base which included the removal of concrete slabs took two years.

 

In the Field approximately 400 meters north of Oakhurst,
Langley Burrell

 

Wiltshire Heritage MWI64437 

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