Vicarage Road Camp: US Naval Base (1943 - 1945)
Base Commissioned: 8th November 1943
Base Decomissioned: 25th August 1945
Commanding Officer: Captain C.F.M.S Quinby U.S.N
Executive Officer: Commander W.G. Hurlbert U.S.N.R
Vicarage Road Camp: Lietenant C.W. Carr, Officer in Charge
Construction of the base was done by the U.S Navy and housed 175 Officers and 2,200 Men U.S.N. The Camp provided working parties for the repair of both U.S.N/R.N and allied navy vessels. Another function was to load over the hards all craft, either for the many exercises or the D-Day load itself. This was a 24 hour a day task and approximately 36,000 men and 60,892 tons of equipment were loaded over all hards from D minus 14 to D plus 14.
The Saltash Passage Hards, at the bottom of Normandy Hill, made of concrete are about 5,000 Square Yards and extend 200ft into the water.
The Saltash sub-base, was used for the servicing of small craft, its remains can be seen to the right of the supports for the road bridge.
Pictures courtesy of Derek Tait
Vicarage Road Camp, in addition to its primary function, developed programes of instruction in Seamanship/Signaling/Aircraft Recognition and First Aid. On 24th July 1944 this camp was set up as a Billeting/Messing/Clothing & Equipment replacement centre for personnel going to and from France.
The U.S Army presence in Cornwall was the 29th U.S Division and in Devon the 4th U.S Division of the V and VII Corps. The training of these units took place at Bodmin Moor/Dartmoor/Slapton Sands. The Slapton Sands beaches were used as they bore a close resemblance to UTAH. Many villages and hamlets were cleared of occupants to allow realistic training, this sometimes resulted in casualties of participating units both Army and Navy.
These units left Plymouth in two waves, the first wave took the U.S 4th Division in 100 ships. While the Second Wave took the U.S 29th Division, making a total of 36,000 troops from Plymouth. A large number of troops marched down Normandy Hill U.S Army Route No.23 to embark on the landing ships and crafts over the Saltash Hards.
The Memorial recording the departure of the V and VII Corps is along the waterfront toward the bridges and the sign for the U.S Army route 23 is at the bottom of the hill under the Royal Albert Bridge.