Camp Griffiss was a US military base in the United Kingdom during and after World War II. Constructed within the grounds of Bushy Park in Middlesex, (now in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames), England, it served as the European Headquarters for the United States Army Air Forces from July 1942 to December 1944. From here Dwight D. Eisenhower planned the D’Day invasion. Most of the camp's huts had been removed by the early 1960s, and a memorial tablet now stands on the site.
From 1942, Camp Griffiss in Bushy Park became the site of a large US base, headquarters to a number of the Allied departments. The camp served as the European Headquarters for the USAAF from July 1942 to December 1944. General Dwight Eisenhower was averse to working in the centre of London during World War II. He decided instead to make Bushy Park the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) centre for planning Operation Overlord, the code name for the Allied invasion of north-west Europe that began with the D-Day landings.
The base was named after Lieutenant Colonel Townsend Griffiss. Griffiss had been aide to Major General James E. Chaney, and was killed in a friendly fire incident when the aircraft in which he was a passenger was mistakenly shot down by Royal Air Force (RAF) Polish fliers. He was the first US airman to die in the line of duty in Europe since the US entered World War II.
It was a common belief amongst those stationed at the camp that the US base was originally intended to be at Bushey in Hertfordshire and was built in Bushy Park due to an error.
An unpublished account of some of the experiences of WR (Doug) Douglas of the USAF 8th Squadron has been lodged with the Imperial War Museum. Douglas flew 35 missions in B-17 aircraft with the 305th Bomb Group as pilot and co-pilot, and was based at Bushy Park for some of his tour.
When the Forces left, for several years after, homeless families, referred to as squatters, moved into the empty huts, making use of the vacant facilities, toilet blocks, water stand pipes etc.
Most of the camp's huts were removed by 1963. Near the Teddington end of the park, not far from Chestnut Avenue, are two memorials: A circular USAAF Memorial tablet on a raised pentagonal block within a five-pointed brick star within a small five-sided enclosure.
Plaque in Bushy park marking USAAF European HQ
The former site of Eisenhower's office is laid out in brick, with a memorial to SHAEF and a flagpole.
Some American Forces had also been billeted at Upper Lodge in Bushy Park. When they departed they left a concrete obelisk with the inscription, 5 C D, TEXAS, 1942.
- royalparks.org Archived 20 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine retrieved 3 December 2009
- bushypark.org Archived 16 July 2010 at the Wayback Machine retrieved 5 January 2010
- SAC Bases: Griffiss Air Force Base, Strategic Air Command Retrieved 7 November 2019.
- Mulvey, Stephen (14 February 2012). "Townsend Griffiss, forgotten hero of World War II". BBC News. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
- twickenham-museum.org Archived 27 November 2009 at the Wayback Machine retrieved 5 January 2010
- Photographs of memorials relating to Camp Griffiss
- Townsend Griffiss, forgotten hero of World War II – BBC News