|On March 13, 1944, after their short two-month stay in Ireland, the regiment closed on Wollaton Park, located on the outskirts of Nottingham, England. This location was to become their home base and rear detachment until the cessation of hostilities in Europe. The regiment set up housekeeping and commenced training for what they knew would be their part in the invasion of Europe. Hard field training, parachute jumps and live fire exercises kept the Red Devils busy. Even so, there was time to visit the city of Nottingham and its citizens. The troopers of the 508th were warmly welcomed by the citizens of Nottingham and many warm and lasting friendships were established which remain in effect today. Many troopers still remember their visits to the Heart and Hand, the Jolly Higgler and The Admiral Rodney Pubs with fondness.|
Wollaton Hall dominated the skyline and has done so since 1588, predating Columbus' voyage of discovery to America some 32 years later.
It is considered is one of the crowning achievements of Elizabethan architect, Robert Smythson. The interior was gutted by fire in the late 1700s but remodeling was completed in 1801.
Nottingham Trivia: in Anglo Saxon times Nottingham was called Snottingham as the city was governed by Lord Snot. Aren't we all glad that the name was
modified just a bit?
A magnificent building, Wollaton Hall did not resemble anything that the men of the 508th had seen at home.
is a very large estate with expansive grassy acreage. There are approximately 100 Red Deer and 150 Fallow Deer roaming freely within the grounds
Deer Park in Wollaton's 500 acre expense must have made more than one G.I. wish for a hunting license. |
Scene was probably never witnessed by the 508th as they encamped
between the months of March and September 1944
Parents, dog walkers and anyone else wanting a cuppa and a sandwich no longer have to trudge up the hill at Wollaton Park. The park's last remaining Second World War hut has undergone a £123,000 transformation, turning it into a new cafe.
Named the Wollaton 508 cafe, it pays homage to the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment - famously nicknamed the Red Devils - who camped there in 1944.
The hut, used most recently as football changing rooms, has been converted into a family-friendly cafe.
Overlooking the children's play area, it will make a welcome addition to the existing courtyard cafe.
Work begins to put Christmas lights up in Old Market Square (yes, already)
Bacon and sausage cobs, sandwiches and paninis are on sale at the self service counter together with a tempting selection of homemade cakes such as treacle tart, carrot cake, brownies and muffins.
Customers wanting to warm up after a cold winter's stroll around the park can refuel on soup and jacket potatoes - and a range of flavoured hot chocolates, amongst them Black Forest, Gingerbread Twist and Butterscotch Cream.
Kids' sandwiches and cartons of fruit juice cost £1 each, while a coffee will set visitors back £2 to £2.50.
New floor to ceiling windows have made the sturdy brick hut light and airy and for those who don’t mind sitting in the fresh air, there’s half a dozen wooden picnic tables outside on the decking.
Three new toilets and community rooms have also been added to the building.
It's not just the name of the cafe that honours the US airborne regiment. Black and white photos adorn the walls.
Some 2,000 members arrived at Wollaton in March 1944 before heading to the D-Day landings in Normandy. Only 900 returned to Notts.
The cafe honours the 508th Parachute Regiment.
From 1945-48 the northern part of the park was covered with huts, housing German prisoners of war.
Most were quickly removed, but four just inside the Wollaton Road entrance survived long enough to be used as changing rooms for school cross-country runners and footballers.
As with the recently opened Arboretum Cafe, Nottingham City Council’s heritage sites’ catering team will operate the new cafe. All the proceeds go towards the upkeep of the tourist attractions which also include Nottingham Castle and Newstead Abbey.
Assistant manager Emily Oldroyd said: “It’s in a prime location and is ideal for families.”
A £38,000 grant from Waste Recycling Environmental Ltd (WREN) helped to fund the conversion. Over the last eight years the not-for-profit business has donated more than £2m towards projects in the city's parks and playgrounds. Coun David Trimble, portfolio holder for leisure and culture, said: "I don't think there is another city that has done more in its playgrounds and parks around the country."
Officially opening the cafe, he added: "I am sure it will be incredibly well used. Anyone who has been here on a summer’s day will know how busy the playground gets.”
Cheryl Raynor, WREN’s grant manager for Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire and Nottinghamshire,
said, "It's wonderful to see something we have funded finally open and ready to make such a difference to children in the local area. WREN is always happy to consider grant applications for projects that benefit local communities and this is a great example of what can be achieved.”
[source: The Nottingham
click here for page with video]