WWII - The Last Warrior

XX Corps Artillery: 1942-1944
England, Crossing the Channel, and the Landing in France

On to Europe

February 1944

After completing all POM requirements, each man was given the opportunity to settle his private affairs at home. The outfit received alert orders in mid-January and on the night of February 10th the outfit boarded a navy vessel that took them to the 49th Street pier in New York where the Queen Mary was docked. The following morning, the outfit boarded the Queen, no longer luxurious as it had been stripped of her luxurious fittings, furniture, and art objects to provide additional space. Instead, steel cots, arrange in tiers, filled the stateroom and compartments.

On February 12th, 1944 the ship left New York, sidling past the Statue of Liberty, and set her course for Europe.

The days were grey and cold, the ship packed with fighting men who didn’t always weather the zigzagging motions of the ship. Given the large number of troops on board, it was impossible to serve more than two meals a day, adding to the discomfort of the passengers. But the men found a tolerable routine that included spending long periods of time on the promenade to read, have a smoke, or play a few hands of cards.

Ghost Corps Thru Hell and High Water

Preparation in England

The Queen Arrives

On February 18, 1944, the Queen Mary arrived in the Firth of Clyde near the town of Gourock, Scotland. The crowds there were enthusiastic, waving flags and offering gestures of welcome. British patrol planes flying above dropped low toward the ship’s deck, signaling their enthusiasm by gunning their motors as the circled the crowded ship.

Manton House

Headquarters XX Corps Artillery debarked on February 18th and landed on the dock at Gourock, Scotland, to the sound bagpipes and the very welcome hot coffee and doughnuts provided by the United States Red Cross. At 1600 that day, XX Corps Artillery entrained, traveling through Glasgow and Edinburgh, then south into England. They arrived the next day at the assigned billeting area in and around Manton House, Marlborough, Wiltshire, England. The officers were billeted at the Aylesbury Arms Hotel and in a number of smaller inns. It would be home to XX Corps Headquarters and Headquarters Battery for the next five months.

Taking in the Local Sites

During non-duty hours, the Corpsmen got acquainted with the local people, studied the architecture and art, and enjoyed the countryside. Site-seeing trips were made to several popular destinations, including Oxford, Bath, and London.

If you have XX Corps stories, please send them to me if you’d like them included on this site, and if you think I might have some photos or information about someone you know, please don’t hesitate to ask.

I’ve already heard from the son of a Captain who served with XX Corps. He has shared some amazing tidbits about his father that will be added to a new section of this site.