a small seaside town
It has a long and curious history going back through Oliver Cromwell’s times, where Corfe Castle was one of the last strongholds of the Royalists in Britain’s Civil War, just a few miles from Swanage – the ruins of which can be visited today, then going back further there were the Norman times when Britain was invaded in 1066, further back the Viking raids, and still further back invaded by The Roman Empire, and then when we go way back in time into the Iron Age – settled in and around this area many thousands of years ago – was a major Dorset tribe called the Dorotriges, establishing itself in that area after moving from their hill forts – the main one being Maiden Castle in central Dorset (one of the largest hillforts in Europe) – and residing in the general area that it is now known as Swanage. For such a remote place – as it used to be – it has an forever incredible history – and now in the times reflected in this website – in the early 1940s – this little town – hosted not only the mystery men who could see into the future as-it-were – and who also passed their awe-inspiringly advanced, quite magical technology to the eager United States in the early 1940s – but a town which also hosted not only the young child evacuees from London – but also arriving in 1943 – was a major 28,000 strong regiment of the U.S. Army – the 26th Regiment of the US 1st Infantry Division (The Big Red One) – who would entertain these lost children – allow them to play on, and even to start up their huge army trucks. And – of course – these young troops – battle weary from the invasion of Sicily, would yet continue – after their arrival in Britain – to go on to help save this green and pleasant land, with its golden yellow cornfields – to save us from another invasion – although in doing so, at a most terrifying cost to themselves.
The 26th Regiment of the US 1st Infantry Division prearranged – as they would not be able to do it on the day – and as a token of goodwill to the little town – arranged for a ring doughnut sprinkled with sugar – to be given to every child in the area on the day that they left. This was their last token parting gift – to the children that they had looked after and entertained in so many different ways, so as to make their lives a little better as evacuees away from their homes and families in London – before they themselves sailed into the gates of hell.
It is well recorded – in many documented personal stories – that these young evacuees – deeply missed and forever remembered their friends from the 1st Infantry Division.
The 116th Regiment attached to the US 29th Infantry Division (Blue and Gray Division) were stationed in Wiltshire and Devon ~ both these counties are alongside Dorset, and some were also stationed in Cornwall west of Devon – all later moving into Dorset itself some weeks before D-Day.
Their destination for the coming invasion was to cover the same overall area of landing points, as that of the US 1st Infantry Division.
but stationed elsewhere – leaving from the same embarkation points – for Normandy, in 1944.