A message for the Yanks in 1943: What do you know?

Were these quiet lanes once home to an American army encampment?

I’ve had another interesting enquiry in from Val Ainsworth, who last week sent in the lovely tale of her husband visiting the Station Hotel in Brownhills in the late 1940s – this time, she has a fascinating enquiry about a possible wartime American Army camp between North Birmingham and Brownhills.

Val writes that her friend recalls visiting a US encampment somewhere around the Streetly/Aldridge/Mill Green area around 1943, but other than the known camp at Pheasey, I’m at a bit of a loss.

Vague memories of military activities locally during the war aren’t unusual – there was the whole debate over tank testing at Shire Oak Quarry that was never really nailed fully and the phantom Italian POW camp near Aldridge Aerodrome.

I do recall someone mentioning military activity in the Little Aston/Mill Green/Stonnall area at some point, and although I’ve heard similar stories about other places before, I’m open minded and I’m sure readers can help.

If you have anything to add, please do: comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

Val Ainsworth wrote:

Did these lanes once echo to the sounds of American accents? Imagery from Apple Maps.

WHERE WAS THIS CAMP ?

Around 1943 there was a substantial American Army field camp that had been set up, the location was somewhere off the Chester Road and possibly somewhere between Aldridge and Brownhills.

Witness to this claim comes from a young boy ( at that time ) who assisted in taking a  message from a young lady living in Kingstanding to her American soldier boyfriend.

He tells the story:

Me and me mate collected the written message,took direction instructions, got on our bicycles and set off up the Chester Road (heading from Sutton Park towards Brownhills).

We cycled a fair way up the Chester Road before turning off into a country lane. At a point in the lane we arrived at the American Army camp.

We spoke to the Yank guards at the camp gates and explained our mission.

We were taken to meet up with the soldier to whom the message had been sent. He read the message and seemed to be pleased with the contents and then with the usual American Soldier generosity he asked us if we would like something to eat.

He took us to a large tent which was obviously their grub canteen.

Boy, did we have a great tuck in to some lovely Chicken pieces. We had a nice little chat with him and then it was time to begin our journey back to Kingstanding.

It had been a great adventure for us and something for us to remember always.

Disregarding the existing American army establishment that was already in place on the Pheasy Estare, Kingstanding…

Where was this other American field camp located?

Was it anywhere near the area of Brownhills? Any takers?

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6 Responses to A message for the Yanks in 1943: What do you know?

  1. Pedro says:

    They Also Serve Who Stand and Wait

    This book tells the story of the US Replacement Depot at Pheasey Farms Estate in Great Barr, Birmingham during World War II. Part of the half-built housing estate was requisitioned by the British forces at the outbreak of the war and in 1942 the first group of American solders moved in.

    The book is a fascinating insight into the day to day activity on the base, with many moving accounts from those involved, and also deals with the impact that the American soldiers had on the surrounding area of Walsall and Birmingham.

    Letters for Victory……. First Base Post Office in Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire….

    http://www.englemed.co.uk/books/usaaf/

  2. Glynis Edwards says:

    my Mum and Dad used to tell me the Americans visited, and were welcomed in droves at the British Legion in Aldridge every weekend as their camp was just ‘up the road’. Pretty sure they said Bosty Lane/ Heliwells site. They lived in Aldridge all their lives so must have known.

  3. f.b. says:

    Re. American base,
    I have no personal knowledge of a base, but it is logical, the yanks were involved in the construction of Fradley airfield.
    This is when I saw my first black man, driving a GMC six wheeled tipper with open cab, carrying blast furnace slag from Hatherton Furnaces at Leamore for runway construction

  4. Pedro says:

    Not sure the Yanks would be involved in the construction of Fradley airport as they did not enter the War until December 1941.

    “Construction on the Fradley Aerodrome (known as RAF Lichfield) started in 1939 and in August 1940 the Royal Air Force moved in….”

  5. aerreg says:

    hi pedro you are probably right because i can recall the lorries travelling along lichfield road on route to fradley we kids used to sit on the kirb and wave to the drivers duering the war it was not uncomen for GI s to visit brownhills socialy the planes based at fradley were priciply wellington bombers and stories were told of planes returning back safely with great holes in them because of their unique fabrication and special frame work sorry for the gobly goo and spelling god bless

  6. Anthony Eadon-Mills says:

    I had a few American friends stationed at Fradley, but this was well after the war probably 1952/1954, and they were still there right up until 1956, but they certainly did not build the aerodrome. One of the night time attractions was jitterbugging at Lichfield Guild hall.fond memories

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