So, while here at Southwick Park on my course, we had the usual course photo, which again for me was done in the D Day map room at Southwick House (officers mess), which, due to its historical importance, was ordered to be kept and maintained for prosperity as it was in 1946.
The original map board.
The map board is as it was when it fitted in 1944.
This is the map key, again as is from 44, never removed.
The map board was made by a toy firm called Chad Valley in the form of a jigsaw, but it was not just this section. The whole map consisted of the whole of the UK and the whole coast of NW Europe including Norway.
The part put on the wall measures probably 25ft x 20ft ish. It was fitted to the wall by 2 Chad Valley employees who had delivered it, and they were then basically held in confinement within Southwick House for 3 months under the official secrets act to make sure the final landing destination was not leaked.
The rest of the map parts were broken up and burnt in the garden grounds.
Imagine this room in May/ June 44, heavy with cigarette and cigar smoke, full of Generals, Field Marshals, admirals and of course Eisenhower and occasionally Churchill… it was funny to be walking over their footsteps from decades ago…
The ante room next door is now dedicated to Admiral Ramsey and also another treat … a landing craft model and quayside of allied armour being loaded or waiting to go on…
All 1/35 scale.
Sorry about some of the images, trying to get the focus was tricky…
The room next to this one, now the mess bar, was where Eisenhower and Churchill sat alone for 30 minutes, deciding whether to give the launch order or hold for a further 3 weeks …
Eisenhower made the final decision and decided with the go… and history was made…
Nice piece of history. Thank you for sharing.
Lucky you John, a real piece of history which one can almost taste I feel.
I was lucky enough to visit there way back in either 1999 or 2000; I was working at our Permanent Joint HQ in Northwood, and had to drive down to give a lecture on media operations to some mid-level joint course. Afternoon tea was served in the Officers’ Mess – ie Southwick House, and I was invited in. I was given an impromptu brief on the planning room, and also shown where Montgomery’s wagons were situated in the grounds. Fascinating and what a privilege.
I’m still not sure to this day how my lecture went down; I understand I caused some consternation when I rebuked a Lieutenant Commander who’d fallen asleep (it was after lunch); I must admit I did this in an extremely forthright Army fashion, which may have rattled the hapless officer from the Senior Service somewhat(!)
Wow that is just amazing. I didn’t know that room was still in existence. Just incredible. It must be quite a feeling to be walking around that room where so much history took place. Thanks for sharing Johnny
It is indeed almost overpowering; I suppose being in the UK we’re well placed for visiting historical sites, not least on the European continent. I was also lucky in that the Brit Army frequently, or used to, conducts battlefield tours, and I’ve been fantastically lucky in the places I’ve visited. But you know, a walk on one of the D Day beaches can almost reduce me to tears. Another sensation was hairs on the back of my neck at the site of the Fuehrer bunker in Berlin.
But back to John’s experience: as he so eloquently describes, one can imagine the low babble of conversation, the all pervasive smoke, amongst which such momentous strategic decisions were made. Incredible!