- In the week of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings, the Surrey Comet looks at the human cost of the tide-turning invasion, and at Kingston’s role in its planning.
Kingston played a bigger part in the Second World War than many are aware of.
The town was General Eisenhower’s secret retreat from the hustle and bustle of London, and he planned the D-Day landings from a house in Kingston Hill.
Telegraph Cottage, in Warren Road, was demolished in the 1980s after a series of fires but in its day also played host to military chiefs including Field Marshal Montgomery.
A D-Day operations room was even set up in a garden shed.
‘Ike’ loved the place so much he painted it in oils, dedicating the finished piece to a loyal aide, Master Sgt John Moaney, who would go on to serve with the general when he became President.
Auctioneer Bobby Livingston, of RR Auction, brought the painting back to Kingston this week along with a trove of artefacts amassed by American collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx, for a tour before they are sold off in September.
Memorabilia including an original oil painting by Gen Eisenhower
Mr Livingston said: “[Eisenhower] was a terrible chain smoker, I’m told, and Churchill recommended that Eisenhower take up painting to relieve his stress.
“He did a fine job. I think it’s extremely appropriate to bring it back here on the 70th anniversary. It’s a powerful feeling.”
Mr Amyx, who served in the US Army and worked for the FBI, put together the collection, which includes President Franklin Roosevelt’s personal top hat, over several decades.
Mr Livingston said: “He started becoming friends over the years with many people who used to work in the White House – the maids, the butlers, the valets. When Franklin Roosevelt would break his cane, they would take it home.
“He began to acquire things from those folks. These people had worked in the White House for 30 or 40 years.”
Mr Livingston with a cane which belonged to President Franklin Roosevelt
An extensive look at the cottage’s role in D-Day was written for the 60th anniversary of the invasion by the Comet’s features editor, June Sampson. Click here to read it.