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Pangbourne House

Military site : non-airfield

Run by the American Red Cross, Pangbourne House was one of 16 country houses or 'flak homes' which housed airmen for Rest and Recuperation away from the stress of flying missions. Each serviceman was entitled to at least one rest period during their 25-30 mission tour.

Pangbourne House is located at Whitchurch-on-Thames, Oxfordshire.

Detailed history

For USAAF combat crews in the UK, home leave was impossible. So the doctors responsible for their well-being believed the next best thing would be Rest Homes, using the tranquility, comfort and freedom from military routine achievable at English country houses or hotels.

Aircrew could, least once during their tour, come for a week away from the horrors of war. They were provided with civilian clothes. Uniforms only appeared for the evening dinner.

Air Service Command supplied an administrative commanding officer, an adjutant and enlisted helpers. A medical officer, rotated each week from operational units, provided any necessary emergency care or medical advice.

American Red Cross girls acted as hostesses, supervising the recreation and dining. The American Red Cross also managed the civilian staff needed to run the house and maintain the grounds.

Pangbourne House was a large country house located at Whitchurch-on-Thames, Oxfordshire. As of November 1944, it accommodated 30 enlisted men and was allotted to the 2nd Bomb Division.

Presumably, the decision to change the name from Coombe Park was to avoid confusion with Coombe House, a Rest Home that had already opened in Dorset. Pangbourne was the local railway station, across the river, in Berkshire.

Post WW2, the property reverted to private ownership. After major rebuilding works spanning many years, the house now bears very little resemblance to its wartime appearance.

English Heritage's record description

Not yet known



Date Contributor Update
31 March 2015 13:06:18 Lucy May Changes to description and history

Reworked the balance of information between the station summary field and the detailed history field.

Date Contributor Update
05 February 2015 23:25:02 MikeO Changes to history

Need to clarify location

Date Contributor Update
05 February 2015 19:37:23 MikeO Changes to known as, latitude, longitude, usaaf from date, usaaf to date and history

Report to the Surgeon, HQ Eighth, Air Force, 11 December 1944.
"Flak" Houses then and now, Thomas, After the Battle, ISBN1 870067 66 5

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:02:17 AAM AAM ingest

Barry Anderson, Army Air Forces Stations (Alabama, 1985) / Roger Freeman, The Mighty Eighth War Manual (London, 1991) p142
Malcolm A. Holland, Sweatin' out the mission: 8th Air Force Ground Support in World War Two (The history Press, Stroud, 2010).
D A Lande, ' from Somewhere in England (Airlife Publishing, UK, 1991).