My name is Malcolm D,
I was directed to your web site by someone who lived near to me during WW11. He lived in the village of North Leigh and I actually in the Hall itself and he thought that as I had been researching some of the USAAF flyers that stayed in the Hall on R & R’s after you left then I might also be interested in your Web Site.
At the time the 40th were there I was a schoolboy of 12 so whilst some of my memories are still fresh others have faded with time.
I can well remember the 40th coming and taking up residence in the camp Nissan huts. It caused quite a stir amongst the local population, many of whom had not seen coloured folk in the flesh before until the advent of the war.
At the time the 40th were there, the Hall was occupied by representatives of Barclays Bank D. C. & O. (Dominion Colonial & Overseas) The reason was that they regarded it as a place in which they could continue business if any of their premises were bombed and no longer able to operate. However, they did use it in the meanwhile as a place where they could bring coach loads of staff and their families for short breaks away from the Blitz target areas.Eynsham Hall.
The one GI that does stick in my mind from the 40th was a “Top” Sgt. (I think you would call him) a very tall handsome and well educated gentleman who I believe worked in in the Company office, I think he it was that vetted and issued the passes that we needed to enter and pass through the camp area to reach the Hall.
It may have been through this that he gained an invitation to visit the Hall and avail himself of the very fine Steinway Grand Piano as he was a very fine pianist of both classical and jazz mediums. I have no idea of his name, he was a tall good looking coloured young man and I remember distinctly that he wore rimless spectacles, the first I had ever seen.
After the 40th moved on, the camp was again occupied by a detachment of the US medical corps. Among them was a young Pfc. with whom I bonded and maintained a lifelong relationship until he died in 1994, but I still maintain contact with his widow.
During this same time, the Hall was requisitioned and the Bank had to leave and it was then occupied by the U.S.A.A.F and the American Red Cross and became a “FlakFarm” a place where a commissioned flying crew could have up to a period of 14 days R & R.
My father who was under contract for a job in the bank after the war was given leave of absence by the bank to fulfill the post of steward and supervise the civilian staff who waited in the dining room. My mother was also offered the post of housekeeper and supervised the the cleaning and bedroom staff.
Later the camp became a Prisoner of War camp, having been ‘wired’ by Italians POW’s to receive German POW’s. Initially they were guarded by British troops, but later they mounted their own pickets with Pick Axe handles… Strangely enough not one ‘Escaped’… and they remained in occupation until the final cessation of hostilities in Europe. They were regarded as non Nazi in their outlook and were given the opportunity to work locally on the farms etc.
Before the U.S.A.A.F. departed they employed the German POW’s to generally cleanup all the gardens and grounds around the Hall which they did with typical Teutonic efficiency.
I hope that this small sample of my fading memory will be of interest to the readers of your very fine web site.
Sincere best wishes to all your readers.