Eagle Hut

Posted by Tory Historian Saturday, April 25, 2009 ,

Tory Historian walked down the Aldwych today from Bush House towards the Strand and Trafalgar Square (eat you heart out Burlington Bertie) and managed to miss the St George's Day celebrations, which was no great tragedy as Tory Historian dislikes state sponsored jollification.

The route went past the memorial to Eagle Hut, carefully photographed, that is in the wall of Bush House, just next to India House. It is a moving plaque that reminds us of an alliance and friendship sealed at a time of hardship.

This note tells us that Eagle Huts for American servicemen overseas were initiated by a General Order (#26-II-1) by U.S. Commander-in-Chief General John Pershing.

Published on 28 August 1917 it affirmed that the Y.M.C.A. would "provide for the amusement and recreation of the troops by means of its usual programme of social, physical, educational and religious services".

Perhaps the most famous of the servicemen's centres was the so-called Eagle Hut opened in London on 3 September 1917. Operated by the Y.M.C.A. the centre, staffed by some 800 voluntary personnel, offered overnight accommodation and food for American servicemen passing through London.

The centre additionally helped with arrangements for London sightseeing tours and entertainment. Turnover was heavy: in February 1919 alone 134,566 meals were served. The Eagle Hut remained open beyond the armistice, finally closing its doors on 25 August 1919.
The plaque goes further. Its text reads:
This tablet marks the site of EAGLE HUT where services to the men of American and Allied Forces testified to the friendship of the English speaking peoples.
Characteristically, the plaque is not very noticeable and few people know about it.


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