Sean Kelly's Home Bases



Home Bases: US Military Bases In and Around London, which is being published through Bayberry Books (www.bayberrybooks.com), sets out the history and fate of the various bases, installations and offices used by the US Military in and around the British capital primarily from WWI to the present day.

Life and times on those bases (often known as 'Little Americas') is furthermore brought alive through a series of snapshot memories by around 40 people whom either served, worked or were involved with everything from owning them, establishing them and occupying them to demolishing them.

Among those who have contributed their memories was actor Larry 'JR Ewing' Hagman who spent four years stationed at the former USAF Third Air Force South Ruislip headquarters base in Middlesex. As Hagman, who passed away in late 2012, recollected: "I had my own little kingdom and nobody knew what I did or what was going on. I really liked that."

Others included WWII veterans to one of the key commanders who had the job of shutting a number of them down in 2006/7. One contributor became one of the very few winners of the Britain's George Medal for heroism, another became a Walt Disney legend and another flew on D-Day and then came back to London years later to serve again. Others either commanded, worked or were students, doctors, programming experts, security personnel or British civlians on the bases over the decades.

Kelly's book is also a swords-to-ploughshares look at a number of bases as they proliferated through WWII and the Cold War and then were closed and handed back in recent years to Britain's Ministry of Defence which, subsequently, has sold a number of sites on for redevelopment as housing and mixed-use destinations.

Among the many bases and installations featured are: Bushey Hall; Watford; Bushy Park, Kingston-Upon-Thames; Camp Lynn/RAF; Daws Hill/High Wycombe Air Station; Denham Air Station, USAF and RAF Hendon in North London. Also featured are a number of bases in Middlesex including DOE Eastcote/Eastcote MOD, USAF South Ruislip, RAF Uxbridge and RAF West Ruislip as well as the now former US Navy Headquarters on Grosvenor Square in London. Other major installations also covered include the Red Cross Club in Piccadilly, the Columbia Club and Douglas House in Bayswater and even, surprisingly, Selfridges department store on London's famous Oxford Street.   There are reminisces of the Departrment of Defense Dependent Schools at Eastcote, West Ruislip and High Wycombe and there are memories from some of the first WWII occupants of the base to the US Military commander with responsibility for shuttering them as part of the post-Cold War drawdown.  

Kelly, who was born at one of the bases and went to school and worked at several others, revisited many of them - some as they were in the very act of being demolished - for this book.

He says:

"This is the first book to look at many of these smaller command and support bases in detail and combine that look with the memories of those who were there in decades past. These were places that, for the most part, didn't have runways and aircraft or dockyards and ships, but they played significant command and support roles - in some cases from even as far back as WWI. They may have been smaller installations - some just office buildings -  but they also helped make history. This book is really a love-letter to those places and times."

The 444--page Home Bases book also includes around 200 pictures, images and maps. At present it is only available through Bayberry Books.


( www.bayberrybooks.com )


 (Main Picture of the Home Bases website shows aerial shot of Bushy Park.    Book cover image Copyright Getty Images).


3 June 2014 - A British museum has managed to contact the relatives of 18 of 47 US military personnel who etched their names on bricks in Suffolk during WWII thanks to the help of a New Jersey woman the BBC reports. The men, from the 2122 Quartermaster Truck Company, had carved their names and messages onto the bricks which were disccovered when a building was being demolished.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-suffolk-27594317

8 June 2014 -  The US Military is to hand back excess housing at RAF Feltwell in Norfolk.   Officials have indicated they will return 15 housing units as a “partial return” to the Ministry of Defense. The base, about 10 miles west of one of the two remaing major operationational flightlight bases in the UK at RAF Lakenheath.  RAF Feltwell largely comprises hosuing but has also been home to AAFES’s furniture store and a junior high (middle) school.  In addition, the Pentagon has said that an ammunition storage annex at RAF Mildenhall that has not been in use is also being handed back.   The returns are part of the latest $60 million savings being made by the US Military at facilities across Europe. 

8 June 2014 - Those who served at RAF Wethersfield in Essex, who wish to share oral histories of the base, once home the USAAF and, later, various USAF units, may wish to connect with the Finchingfield Guildhall.  The Guildhall, whcih is Grade 1 listed to protect it, has just had amajor restoration complete with a museum which contains memories of the US Military presence at the base - just a couple of miles away.  Among those Americans who served there were members of the 20th Fighter Bomber Wing / Tactical Fighter Wing, the 66th Combat Support Squadron, the 10th Reconnaisance Wing and the 7119th Support Group. In WWII it was occupied by the 416th Bomb Group.   http://www.finchingfieldguildhall.org.uk

13 June 2014- Climb aboard for a ride aboard a USAF B-52 bomber out of  RAF FAirford as the aircraft participates in an exercise at the standby base located in Gloucestershire, England. The BBC's defense correspondent Jonathan Beale did just that.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-27825255

17 June  2014 -  Home Bases - Memories & Stories of US Military Bases Around London, has been puplished in New York.  Visit www.bayberrybooks.com

22 June 2014 -  Keep a look-out for the newly-published book Encounter in Rendlesham Forest – the Inside Story of the World’s Best-Documented UFO Incident which has been published and available in bookstores and through Amazon. The book by British writer and former Ministry of Defence UFO specialist  Nick Pope, along with two retired USAF personnel, John Burroughs and Jim Penniston, takes a detailed inside look at the world-famous UFO incident which occurred at the former USAF base at RAF Bentwaters over several nights in December 1980. To date it remains perhaps the closest the USAF or the MoD has been forced to come to confirming the presence of UFOs.

 Says Pope, who led Britain’s Ministry of Defense investigation into UFO reports around the UK from 1991 to 1994:

“The encounter at this former US military base is more compelling and supported by much better evidence than even the infamous Roswell incident. There were dozens of US Air Force witnesses including the Deputy Base Commander. In our book we show conclusive proof that immediately after the incident the senior USAF General in Europe flew in to investigate personally and removed evidence back to his HQ without informing the UK government - all this at a time when the US government's public line was that UFOs were no longer being investigated."













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