Dan Steele

Photographic Colourist

US Army visits Rockleigh Road, Southampton

From the Imperial War Museum digital archive, a photograph, colourised by myself, depicting a typical scene in the Southampton during the days leading up to and immediately after the Normandy invasion in 1944.

© IWM NYT 27247
“The Final Embarkation: British civilians, Annie Bagg with her parents, Soloman and Eliza Bagg, hanging out washing and tending their garden in Hill Road, Southampton, while, behind them, parked in Rockleigh Road, an American field howitzer unit waits before moving to the docks to embark for Normandy, 5 June 1944.” © IWM NYT 27247

In the foreground, we see members of the Bagg family of 185 Hill Lane (on the intersection with Rockleigh Road), tending to their garden and washing line. The original caption suggests the lady hanging the washing is Annie Bagg, with her parents Soloman and Eliza behind tending to a vegetable patch.

Juxtaposed against the everyday domestic scene in the garden is the road behind full of military vehicles and personnel of the US army.

According to respected local historian, Stephen Fisher, the troops are members of Battery A, 955th Field Artillery Battalion, as denoted by the markings on their vehicles. It would appear that most of the men of this unit were from Brooklyn, NY.

The group are waiting to embark on their allocated vessels to join the fight in Normandy, which, according to records would have been in the days after the initial assault on the 6th June 1944.

Among their equipment we can see in the foreground a pair of M5 Tractors with M101 Howitzers (105mm) in tow. On the opposite side of the road we can see at least one Willys Jeep, a couple of Dodge WC series trucks and another larger truck that’s hard to identify.

Rockleigh Road, Southampton
Rockleigh Road, Southampton, January 2022. The neighbours privy bushes seen in the original image in the foreground, right. Modern cars replace the artillery, tractors, jeeps and trucks.

In the background we see more of the houses in Rockleigh Road (as seen in the image above), which, aside from some fresh tiles, look very similar today.

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  1. PAULINE MELODY January 3, 2022

    I was there -10 years old. I lived at number 35.

    • Helen Wallbridge January 10, 2022

      Hi Pauline, are you in the skipping photo that was also taken that day? Best wishes, Helen

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