Ike’s Advanced HQ


Southwick House

On June 2, 1944, Ike officially moved his headquarters from Bushy Park to Southwick House just inland from Royal Navy’s communications nerve center located in nearly a mile of tunnels beneath Fort Southwick which loomed over Portsmouth Harbor, now jammed with D-day transports.

Trucks filled with soldiers and supplies rumbled down every country lane headed to embarkation ports.  The drone of Allied aircraft was incessant. But after nightfall the sky was filled with bursts of anti-aircraft flak.

To prepare their forecasts, Stagg and Yates shared half a Nissen hut with Instructor Commander John Fleming, the chief meteorologist on the staff of Admiral Bertram Ramsay who commanded D-day’s invasion fleet. The hut was behind Southwick House, just around the corner from its south portico.

Twice daily, Ike would assemble his senior commanders for weather briefings in what had been the mess for the Royal Navy’s navigation school before it became the advanced HQ for SHAEF.  To make the meetings, Stagg, Yates, and Fleming often had to sprint from their phones.

In Sawyer’s Wood, down the hill and about a mile to the east of the manor house, Ike parked his travel trailer under a grove of trees. A smaller version for his driver, Kay Summersby, was nearby.  Across a cinder path Stagg and Yates shared a tent close to other tents housing Ike’s staff.

Today, Southwick House and the surrounding grounds are contained in the Royal Navy’s HMS Dryad, a dry land base devoted to defense security.