United Kingdom / Landmark
Currently being renovated into a modern office block, on this site once stood the old Norfolk House, the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force in Central London where General Dwight D. Eisenhower developed much of the initial plans for D-Day. Eisenhower also planned Operation Torch on this site June to November 1942.
Located just a few minutes away from Whitehall, the original Norfolk House in St James’s Square was built in 1752 as a town house for the Duke of Norfolk. However, the building was replaced in 1938 by a large office block. The building has now been demolished to make way for a modern office complex, but the original bricks and materials have been preserved. The plaque marking the importance of the location has been taken down, but it is hoped this will be preserved and remounted. During World War II, Norfolk House was the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force and throughout much of 1943 saw the initial planning for D-Day, including the analysis of intelligence gathered pertaining to the most suitable landing sites.
Come the beginning of 1944, General Eisenhower gained the post of Supreme Allied Commander and used Norfolk House as his initial headquarters before the eventual move to new headquarters situated in the more inconspicuous location of Bushy Park in Richmond. Vital planning for D-Day took place there in the original St James’s Square location, including the organisation and size of the landing forces required.
Edna Stafford recalled working as a typist at Norfolk House from 1943, after she had joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. She completed work of the utmost secrecy and was sworn in before commencing duties. The work was extremely intense and continued well into the night, before resuming early again the next morning. Some officers had a trying temperament after being invalided from active duty and being assigned desk duties. Despite this, the sense of teamwork, camaraderie and interesting work evidently made the strain of just 4 hours sleep each night more bearable and Norfolk House appears to be viewed with great fondness. Eisenhower and Montgomery could often be spied working on the D-Day plans. However, it was hard to glean the whole picture of proposed events as work was divided accordingly until an influx of new staff signalled that D-Day was imminent.