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WW2 Headquarters – 8th USAAF Fighter Command

(Based on the Historical Research and Artefacts in the collection of the late Mrs. Janet McLennan.)


A map of the site as it was used during WW2

The building was requisitioned in 1942 for RAF Fighter Command. It was geographically close to Fighter Command HQ at Bentley Priory.

That summer it was handed over to the US Army Air Force to become the HQ of VIII Air Force, Fighter Command, maintaining this role until January 1945 when the HQ was moved to Belgium.

From small beginnings the headquarters became responsible for the control of 15 US fighter groups in England in 1944.

Several famous American air force pilots were based at Bushey Hall and the Hall was also the main routing area for all SIGINT (Intelligence)information coming into the U.K and used to plot the movement of Axis air forces.

The hall had been run as an effective military headquarters and it was now taken over by 46 Group, Transport Command, RAF, which still operated in peace-time, flying transport aeroplanes (American C-47s, known to us as Dakotas) from a couple of southern airfields.
During the Berlin airlift of 1948-49, the group was placed in charge of the British part of the allied operation with an advance HQ in Germany.

At the end of the airlift 46 Group was dissolved in Germany and its rear HQ at Bushey Hall was derequisitioned.

But the War Department was still interested in using the hall and in February 1952 it purchased the hall within the area now known as the Lincolnsfields Centre.

A new phase of Anglo-American co-operation had begun as the Cold War developed. Once the Soviet Union acquired nuclear capability some 90 Superfortresses (B29s) were stationed in Britain. The British Anti-Aircraft Command was still functioning until it ceased in 1955, and it was under its umbrella that the United States 32nd AAA Brigade was brought in to use Bushey Hall as its HQ in October 1953.

The brigade's mission was to help protect allied airfields in Britain from possible Soviet attack.

The War Department, as owners of the property, were ultimately responsible. The condition of the hall building had deteriorated badly, and a replacement head-quarters building may have been planned.

The 32nd brigade, which left in summer 1957, probably never used the hall.

With acknowledgements to Mr. Cliff Williams.


Original photo showing American 8th USAAF personnel at Bushey Hall in WW2.

 

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