D-Day marshalling area camp A1, Stansted Forest

Stansted Forest was one of the camps in Marshalling Area ‘A’, used by Allied forces before D-Day. The camp lay in the south west corner of Stansted Forest. Troops based here included 2nd Middlesex, Canadians and Free French. King George V inspected men from British 3rd Division nearby, and today a memorial stone commemorates that event. The camp could hold 2,000 men and 200 vehicles.

Marshalling Area ‘A’ was the name given to a group of temporary camps around Portsmouth and Gosport, where Allied troops waited before D-Day. Most of these camps were hidden in woods, so that the tree cover would conceal them from any enemy reconnaissance aircraft that might fly over. Each camp could typically hold 1,000-2,000 troops, as well as several hundred vehicles. There were other Marshalling Areas further to the west, with the next being Area C, around Southampton. As well as these camps, further troops, vehicles and supplies were assembled along roads in the area, which had sometimes been specially widened to accommodate them.

Troops were based at many of these camps for weeks or even several months before D-Day. At the end of May, the camps were sealed, meaning that the troops inside were not allowed to leave. This was a step to minimise the risk that enemy spies – or the British public – might realise that D-Day was drawing very near. From 31 May onwards, and according to a highly detailed timetable, troops began to make their way down to the coast and embark onto the ships and landing craft that would take them to Normandy. Vehicles were often loaded earlier, and troops on foot embarked only just before D-Day. Once the troops landing on D-Day itself had left the camps, forces who would be landing on subsequent days took their place, forming a steady stream moving down towards the south coast that in many places continued for months. Later on, some of the camps were reused for other purposes, such as for holding enemy prisoners of war.

Address55 Finchdean Road, Rowland's Castle, Hampshire PO9 6DA, UK
CountyHampshire
Location typeTroop Camp
AccessPublic Access
Site Ownership and Access InformationArea owned by Stansted Estate. Certain public footpaths and bridleways, and permissive access routes, pass through the forest.
Contact detailsSee Stansted Estate website

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