Discover Bushy Park’s D-Day history

Discover Bushy Park’s D-Day history

The Royal Parks launches new exhibition with unseen archive images

Main image: Four Auxiliary Territorial Servicewomen (c) The Royal Parks

You can learn all about the role Bushy Park played in the planning of the D-Day landings, which marked the invasion of north-west Europe during the Second World War, with a new digital exhibition unveiled by the Royal Parks charity. The exhibition features previously unseen photography and archive material, and was created to commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day on 6 June 2024.

From March until June 1944, D-Day was plotted from inside Bushy Park, in a huge military site called Camp Griffiss. It once housed more than 3,000 military personnel, and the exhibition will reveal what life was like inside the camp when these people found themselves living in the middle of one of London’s Royal Parks.

First-hand accounts reveal the humanity of daily life there – one man, Roger, who lived near Bushy Park as a child during the time, remembers the arrival of American women who “really liked our cute little accents and they would give us huge quantities of sweets and big tins of fruit and jam, all sorts of things.”

But there was also fear of bomb raids. Susan, who served in the Auxiliary Territorial Service, says, “Quite often at night the sirens would go and we would hear the “buzz bombs” overhead – we dived under our beds and grabbed our tin helmets.”

The exhibition comprises of on-site materials, as well as a digital exhibition on the Royal Parks website and a podcast which includes interviews with historical experts, the park staff, and Friends of Bushy and Home Park.

On a visit to Bushy Park, you can see many reminders of Camp Griffiss. SHAEF Gate marks the original main entrance to the camp, and you can also visit SHAEF Memorial, which incorporates a bronze-pointed star representing the US flag. There is also the book plaques, placed around the park to mark the 50th anniversary of the D-Day landings.