Stories about the 40th

Between 1997 when I first launched this website, I received correspondence with people who remember the 40th Signal Construction Battalion during the war.

Here are some of the stories:

  • Eynsham Hall

    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

    Eynsham Hall

    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.

    Malcolm D

  • First and only connection

    Hi Erik,
    We connected. Just a short reply to acknowledge you message. Please don’t be formal, call me john or as
    my grandkid’s and their friends do pepe. Your first paragraph. “You are the first surviving veteran etc.” I may
    be the only one left. I’m 93 years old. Not many old geezers use a computer or E-mail. African-Americans also
    don’t live that long. I transferred into “A” Co. of the 40th on the 30th of Sept. 1943. I transferred into Hqtr’s Co.,
    which your father commanded on 13th Jan. 1945. I was transferred out of the 40th, 24th of june 1945. As I
    recall your father was a Captain and was the commandant of Hqtr’s all that time. I will go through my records
    and should I find information I will forward it to you. Also I will keep in touch. Believe me. IT WAS GREAT
    HEARING FROM YOU.
    pepe.

  • Sgt Buggs Part Three

    Dear Justyn,

    After searching several newspapers, I came across an article in the The Hammond Times newspaper from Hammond, Indiana.

    The article speaks of a 34 year old arrested at a Hospital. His age fits a 1922 birth year, so it’s interesting to speculate that this was indeed him.

     

    BUGGSDOPECU

    As a post scriptum

    Perhaps after the war, he like many other enlisted men were affected with post traumatic stress disorder. John Huston was commissioned by the US government after World War Two to make a public service announcement film in 1946 called “Let There Be Light”, showing that veterans with “psychological disorders” were in good hands thanks to the Army.

     

    hustube

    Hi Erik
    That article is amazing, if it is the right Buggs that will be a hell of a story to tell my grandchildren.
    I will let you know if I find any more info.
    Justyn

  • Sgt.Buggs Part Two

    Hi Justyn,

    Here’s the information I found:

    Social Security Death Index Record
    about Albert Buggs
    Name: Albert Buggs
    SSN: 257-48-7848
    Born: 27 Dec 1922
    Died: 13 Aug 1990
    State (Year) SSN issued: Georgia (Before 1951 )

    One aspect of the Albert Buggs we have both found is that his Social Security number was issued in Georgia. Georgia was definitely one of the states where members of the 40th battalion hailed from, so this only adds to our convictions that this is the right guy.

    The Enlistment record I sent originally has some inconsistencies with the Albert Buggs we have. According to the Enlistment records, Albert Buggs hailed from Louisiana, and registered in Arkansas.1930cenusbuggs

    The Albert Buggs on the SSN, definitely came from Georgia. In fact, I’ve attached a census record of him in the 1930s when he was 7 years old. Of course, he could have moved to Arkansas by the time he joined the Army in 1942, but it doesn’t explain why he would have told them that he was originally from Arkansas instead.
    I have located lots of other Buggs living in Arkansas, having hailed from Louisiana, which only supports the evidence of the Enlistment record, but I haven’t found anything which accurately correlates to two Buggs that we are currently dealing with…

    I’ll let you know if I find anything new..

    Erik

  • Sgt.Buggs

    Dear Sir,

    I am researching my family tree and discovered that my Grandmother  (from Long Hanborough, Oxfordshire, England) had a letter from a Sgt Buggs.
    The top of the letter is headed as follows- 40th Sig.Cons.Bn. At least I think the zero in forty is a zero as apposed to six.
    I have found your website and feel it could be the correct battalion.

    We believe that  Buggs christian name is Clyde or Clive. Could you give me some guidance as to where to find further information.

    Regards

    Buggs

    Sgt Bugg’s original letter

    Justyn

  • Childhood memories

    I was a child of 5 years old during 1943 when our world changed.

    Our quiet country village suddenly seemed to be the centre of the war when the 40th Signal Construction Battalion were billeted in the grounds of Eyensham Hall, North Leigh, Oxfordshire.

    No, we hadn’t seen any black people, let alone troops before but I think we were color blind. Us kids quickly learned to ask “Got any gum chum?” and we were usually rewarded.

    I recall some of the local folks doing laundry for the soldiers and being rewarded with bags of oranges and other goodies, we had hardly ever seen an orange due to war shortages.

    I remember being given rides in open jeeps which seemed to me at breath taking speeds around country lanes.

    To my memory the soldiers seemed so positive they had a sense of “can do, lets get the job done”.

    Best wishes for your efforts, Pete