The extraordinary case of Leroy Henry – today was the day

By Kate Werran, April 2024

In June 2024 the nation will look back 80 years to D-Day. Movies like Saving Private Ryan.

TV documentaries and newspapers featuring interviews from a rapidly diminishing pool of veterans will proliferate to mark the historical watershed.

Commissioning editors will be anxious to ward against D-Day-fatigue and demand revisionist spins on familiar archive material.

But perhaps the most modern and pertinent tale from the British home front in the summer of 1944 has been hiding in plain sight all along — and is rooted in Combe Down’s own history.

The extraordinary case of Leroy Henry will be familiar to those following Prior to Now Trust. The African American G I, whose unit was based at Brantwood House in Southstoke.

See Daily Express story about Leroy Henry

See PtNT article about Leroy Henry

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Understanding the past with an wonderful local gift

Yesterday, Margaret told me that Andy Russell had been trying to reach me but couldn’t. We did, happily, make contact shortly after and Andy, on behalf Gérard, on behalf of Rob, made an awesome local gift – a small shedload of photos of the Combe Down area.

The message said:

“Hi Margaret, sorry to contact you like this but  I am unable to send a message to Richard. Gérard Coles, son of the late Robert Coles has given me about 30 pictures of Combe Down and some of its characters. We both agreed that it would be good to get these to someone who can document them and possibly store them in the archive. They are mostly identified on the back. I would like to copy a few and then pass them on to you if that’s ok. Any thoughts?”

Response to the awesome welcome gift:

All I can say is that Andy well underestimated the number of photos (there are actually 83) and, in my opinion, the importance of some of the images. However I’m really glad he persevered, it was worth it.

I’m not going to try describing all, or indeed any, of them – they need to be catalogued, described and listed by someone much more expert than me.

Having said that I shall show a few and look to finding out more about them and all the others.

I’d love to know what you think – even from the few examples.

Bus leaving rainbow woods 1024x720
Bus leaving rainbow woods
Wilcox bakers 1024x781
Wilcox bakers
Wilcox bakery 1024x784
Wilcox bakery
Rev Jeremy Wordsworth 734x1024
Rev Jeremy Wordsworth
The Firs 1024x726
The Firs
Combe Down infants school 1970s 1024x728
Combe Down infants school 1970s
Combe Down junior school Mrs Warrens class 1024x621
Combe Down junior school Mrs Warrens class
Fales Gladstone Road garage 1024x689
Fales Gladstone Road garage
Water tower 1970s 1024x730
Water tower 1970s

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