United Kingdom / Monument
St Paul’s Gardens was once the site of the Old St Paul’s School in Hammersmith, which became the Supreme Allied Headquarters for Field Marshal Montgomery and the 21st Army Group who himself attended the school. Today, a plaque commemorates the site and its importance in the planning of the D-Day landings.
St Paul’s School had been evacuated in 1939 with students being located to a temporary site away from potential bombings, near Crowthorne, Berkshire. In July 1940, the building was taken over as the Headquarters of the Home Forces, close enough to be near General De Gaulle’s Free French headquarters in Olympia. Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery then assumed command of the 21st Army Group on the site in July 1943 purportedly with great delight at being in charge of his old school master’s office. It was in the school’s boardroom that Montgomery made plans for the D-Day landings alongside General Eisenhower, welcoming Winston Churchill and King George VI on 15 May 1944 when it came time to review and approve the plans. Shortly after this meeting on 6 June 1944, the Normandy landings commenced. The map used in the planning is still in the possession of St Paul’s School and is on display in the Montgomery room of the new building just across the river. The only school building to remain from this period, the Old School House, is now the St Paul’s Hotel which located directly next to the garden.
A plaque on the pillar of the original entrance gate marks the importance of the presentation given by Montgomery in the school’s lecture theatre to Eisenhower and Churchill. To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings and the events that took place on the site, a bench and plaque were unveiled in 2019 by Major James Kelly, funded by The Old Pauline Trust.
Hammersmith Road, Hammersmith, London