Tour Locations | The Battle of Britain House: A Walk Through Ruislip Woods
You should be able to see what's left of the mansion's car park through the foliage a few steps ahead of you. Please stop next to it.
You're at the old car park now, standing literally next to the house. If the concrete and pipe posts are on your left, then what was the west wing of the mansion would be ahead of you. Pause here of a moment to imagine the stately home.
In 1939, Europe descends into war, and Meyer Franklin Kline vacates the mansion after nearly two decades. The Ministry of Works will soon requisition the mansion for military use, turning it over to the Secret Service. By mid-1942, the United States have also entered the war, and began forming a new intelligence agency called the Office of Strategic Services or O.S.S. The US intelligence capacity at the time was almost non existent, so they reached out to the British Secret Service to begin sharing its established networks, techniques and expertise.
A US intelligence mission was established at a flat in Mayfair, and soon joint operations would ensue, such as a series of arms and liaison agent airdrops in support of the French Resistance ahead of the invasion of Normandy called Operation Carpetbagger. The Franklin mansion was utilised as a training area, where men and women of the Secret Service and the OSS learned the arts of ungentlemanly warfare - hand to hand combat, firearms, bomb making, codes and ciphers, as well as the use of radio equipment. They would then move to a designated airfield for parachute training, before boarding night flights for insertion over enemy territory.
You will notice a concrete paved walkway ahead of you. This used to be the rear patio path. Follow it to reach the top of the mansion's garden steps, and stop there - remembering to be cautious around the broken steps as they can be quite slippery.