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.
"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).