Tour Locations | The Battle of Britain House: A Walk Through Ruislip Woods
Stop here please.
The rectangular area in front of you used to be the mansion's pool. It has been filled in since to prevent small animals from becoming trapped inside. I can't say what the strange looking concrete implement on one side is, but it might have been a water pump, or a fountain. Some reports stated that Mrs Joseph Conn, the first resident of the mansion, used it as a health & hydrotherapy centre, so perhaps this is what remains of an early hydrotherapy implement.
On the other end of the rectangle, a set of steps that once allowed guests to walk into the pool are now buried under the soil, and you will be able to see broken pipes, metal frames and other debris from the mansion scattered around.
Let's get going while I tell you more. Walk towards the clearing on the left of the pool until you see a trail. Take the trail left, and once you reach the wider path, go right until you reach another post marked HT.
A local lady sharing her story with me, remembered being brought here on school field trips in the 50s. Her and her classmates would go about calculating the volume of the empty pool as a quick math exercise.
In late 1944, Lt Gould and his group of 20 or so hand-picked German Socialists were billeted at the mansion, and during the course of several weeks, they received theoretical and practical special agent training. In the aftermath of the brutal Battle of the Bulge, intelligence from inside Germany was urgently required, and so the OSS mission schedule was fast forwarded. Gould's cadre of intrepid volunteers was activated for participation in a series of dangerous missions inside Germany, code named TOOL missions, each taking its name from a labourer's tool.
In early March 1945, the first mission - code-named HAMMER - launched at night from an English airfield. Two German dissident workers, Paul Lindner and Toni Ruh, were tasked to paradrop over Berlin, and report back on the defences of the besieged city.