Bushy was home to almost 8,000 US troops during the Second World War. In 1942 Camp Griffiss was established in the north-east corner of the park; it was named after Lieutenant Colonel Townsend Griffiss, the first American officer to die in Europe during the conflict.
The park’s central Chestnut Avenue provided an ideal landing strip for aircraft; alongside the Nissen huts there were sports pitches and even a cinema for entertainment. The National Physical Laboratory, whose work had led to the development of the pioneering Spitfire plane, was also based at Bushy and made important advances in aerodynamics and marine technology throughout the war.
Eisenhower moves in
In 1944 Bushy played a crucial part in bringing the war to an end. General Eisenhower moved the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Expeditionary Forces (SHAEF) to the park and began planning Operation Overlord – the top-secret mission to invade the European mainland that launched on D-Day, 6th June 1944. D-Day marked the decisive turning point in the fighting, setting the Allies on course for victory a year later.
Traces of the past
Although the wartime buildings were demolished in 1963, a brick pavement has been laid on the site of Eisenhower’s office as a marker of his top-secret presence in Bushy at a momentous time in modern history. For the 50th anniversary of D-Day the park entrance used by Eisenhower was reopened and is now called the Shaef Gate. Nearby stands the USAAF Memorial honouring the US troops based at Camp Griffiss.