US Servicemen in Dorset UK – 1944 Pre D-Day?


A favourite location – I must have stopped here hundreds of times – is Knowlton Church. It’s a Neolithic henge monument (4000 to 5000 years old) with a ruined Norman church in the centre (900 years old). Within the church ruin generations of  ‘recent’ visitors have scraped their initials and the year they were there, and one set in particular caught my imagination, scratched into the chancel arch.


This second one has the writing enhanced in Photoshop with the brush tool as it’s not that clear in the original (this wasn’t that easy on the right hand side of the photo). The ‘L’ near ‘MHW’ is a bit faint and may not be connected.


The year (1944) and the ‘USA’ must show these were made by US troops stationed in Dorset before the D-Day invasion. I guess  ‘PA’ indicates Pennsylvania, ‘TENN’ is Tenessee, ‘IL’ is Illinois and ‘DE’ Delaware?

A bit of research indicates that the main US troops in Dorset were the 1st US Infantry Division, the nearest unit being the 1st Division Signals Company at Blandford, but these soldiers might have travelled for miles.

It would be pretty amazing to find out the names of  ‘JHB’ from Pennsylvania, ‘HCG’ from Tennessee, ‘EET’ from Delaware (if the arrow joins the two sets of letters) and a ‘MHW(L)’ from Illinois, stationed thousands of miles from home 60 years ago. Why were they here for an hour or two in the middle of nowhere? If they were combat troops based in Dorset they probably landed at Omaha beach. If they were 20 years old in 1944, and survived the war they may still be alive.

So anyone out there with any ideas/family history which might add some information?

Sorry – nothing to do with photography this time, just something of a mystery. Might get some storywriter’s imaginations fired up too!


4 thoughts on “US Servicemen in Dorset UK – 1944 Pre D-Day?

  1. Wonderful bit of lost history. My father was a WWII vet (Pacific Theatre) and I have been going through his photos/documents/memorabilia for the last few years. So many untold stories. Hope this stirs something up for someone and Thanks for sharing.

    • Hello Marcelo – the church has been a ruin for hundreds of years, and would have been in much worse condition in 1944. This is only a tiny portion of the names and dates scratched into the stone from the 1700’s to the present day.

      This is only a personal opinion, but I feel these servicemen’s initials and the date add rather than detract from the history.

      If it were a church which was still in use it would be a completely different matter.

      Sorry to politely disagree with the suggestion and thanks for the comment.

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