Lypiatt 1944

Lypiatt Park 1944 – Research note By Vi Dickenson                                                                    Copyright copyright logo

Further thoughts about Lypiatt Park, 1944 – Research note by Susan Harrison (nee Williams)

Lypiatt Park History

Lypiatt Park 1944

Research note By Vi Dickenson

First published in ‘A Millennium Miscellany’ in 2000 by Stroud Local History Society

Does any of the older generation living in the area recall the time when the American soldiers were stationed here during the 2nd World War?

I thought a few people may be interested in what I have learnt over the years since we came to live at Lypiatt Lodge in 1954. I knew the Americans had a large camp here in the field on the right approaching Lypiatt Park. They arrived in the March before D-Day. The three large grass covered tumps in the field are rubble left when they dismantled the camp and its concrete roads. People often ask us what they are.

One day in the summer of 1986 my husband and I were out in the garden when two people asked if we would mind them coming in to look around. They had broad American accents and said they were Mr. and Mrs. George Romano from Mass. USA. George had been stationed at Lypiatt Park in 1944 and had wanted to return for years. They were both quite exhausted as they had walked from the railway station in Stroud. George recalled it as a short distance, as he used to walk to and fro when he was a young man, but of course, now being much older and the walk being uphill, it was quite a different story! We showed them around and gave them a lift back to the station and have kept in contact ever since.

I have never seen anything written down about the American Camp and people I have asked only seem to recall a few vague memories, so being intrigued by names carved in the stone pillars at the entrance to Lypiatt Park by American soldiers when they were stationed here, I wrote to George asking him if he would mind writing down a few of his memories for me as I thought a few local people would be interested.

I wasn’t sure what his reaction would be, but he went to a lot of trouble to reply.
This is what he said:
“We left Cardiff by train and arrived in Stroud about 22nd day of March, 1944. Boarded trucks from Stroud station and were taken up the hill to Lypiatt Park. All this was done, of course, under blackout conditions, late at night. There were about 300 in the Battalion – 158th Combat Battalion. We occupied the whole of one large field. Our living quarters were large tents that had eight cots, a wood stove and a kerosene lamp.
The weather was very cold and damp. During the day we would march and do exercises on a company “street” which was a road made in-between the tents lined up both sides. We posted guard duty 24 hours a day. Two guards at the entrance of Lypiatt Park and the others patrolling other areas around the camp -other outhouses around the camp numbered 20 or more.
We often went into Stroud to the Cinema, sweet shops and pubs and a small shop where we got fish and chips. All the people I met were very nice. We never had any trouble in the pubs. I attended the Catholic Church in Stroud. The flower gardens were open in the Park, which we went to as well as the local people.
We left Lypiatt Park on June 6th, 1944 and headed for the Channel, stopping in Plymouth for six days as the Channel was too rough for landings at Normandy. We finally went on the 13th or 14th June and landed in Normandy. I went back to America on 29th October 1945 and was discharged.”

Postscript; Miss Armitage, who was then living at “Berrimans”, Lypiatt, was in the road watching the last of the American soldiers leave, when one jumped off his truck, ran to her and put a small black kitten into her hands saying, “keep it, it will get killed”, and ran back and boarded the truck and left Lypiatt. She called the kitten, Yankee, reared it and its life was spent at “Berrimans”. Visitors always remembered its home.


Research note by Susan Harrison (nee Williams)

First published in ‘A Millennium Miscellany’ in 2000 by Stroud Local History Society

I was interested in Vi Dickenson’s comments about the American Camp at Lypiatt Park during the Second World War.

I lived in Lypiatt Lodge while the Americans were in Camp at the Park; as I was only eight years old at the time my memories are rather different from those of adults. Huge bulldozers transformed the Park in six weeks from a quiet meadow where rabbits played and mushrooms grew to a noisy army “town” with concrete roads, rows of khaki tents and strange small vehicles called “jeeps” zooming everywhere. After that it was an adventure to walk with my friend through the camp; men on each side of the road would chat and shower us with chewing gum and chocolate bars (a luxury in sweet-rationed England) and give us huge tins of peaches to take home to our mothers. Once we were asked to sew a new badge on a uniform for a Staff sergeant; the stitching was not very successful – I hope it stayed in place for him on Parade!

One or two of the older men came into the Lodge frequently to write letters home; many were very homesick and enjoyed being with a family again. Bob and Arthur became firm friends; we kept in touch for many years after the war. We had Land Girls billeted at the Lodge and often the postman brought wonderful gifts for them – fantastic make-up sets and nylons galore sent from America. Unfortunately they were nearly always sent back as the duty on these gifts was huge and most girls could not afford to keep them. Lorries and jeeps were checked in and out of the Lodge gates; the guards often carved their initials on the entrance pillars to while away the hours, and they became familiar with our grandfather clock – they could quickly check the time as they passed by our front window!

Lypiatt Park has a 14th century Chapel that had been used for storage. In 1943 it was reconsecrated for the use of the Americans. This was greatly appreciated and army chaplains regularly took services there. After the Americans left, the chapel was used by local people for services for many years; when Judge Woodcock moved to Jaynes Court, Bisley, the oak pews and altar were removed from the chapel and taken to Bisley Church.

The soldiers disappeared almost as quickly as they had come. They came in 1943; stayed several months and then one week in June 1944 they were gone. None of us knew the significance of the Normandy landings at the time; “our” Americans were part of the operation; we heard that many of them reached home many months later. The Park was strangely quiet again by the summer of 1944, there were just large squares of brown earth on either side of crumbling strips of concrete as a reminder of what had been. Years later when I got off the Stroud – Bisley school bus, and walked down the main drive from Lypiatt Lodge to our house near the Mansion, side stepping the grass snakes which to my horror slithered across my path from the waist high grass, there was no sign of the turmoil which had taken place for a few months in a small part of rural Gloucestershire.


A research note from the SLHS digital archive added Oct 2014 Copyright copyright logo

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