Seventy years ago does not seem to be ‘the past’, but our world has changed so much in that time, it is very old to our modern eyes. Most archaeologists see the past as starting just a moment ago, its not just pre-history that interests us, it is all time from then till now as well. What ever humans have left behind to tell us about their lives catches our attention. In the case of Kingston Lacy’s involvement in the Second World War it is buildings, maps, declassified documents, personal letters, photographs and local memories.
On the 17th March 1943, the war department formally requisitioned 72 acres of parkland at Kingston Lacy House. The owner, Mr Bankes, was to be paid £145 per year, which the government then taxed at 19 shillings and 6 pence in the pound!
This land was used as an American run hospital and small prisoner of war camp, and on the 3rd April 1944 the first unit, the 28th (US) General Hospital moved into the park commanded by Colonel J J Figueras. Their stay was only four months, then Lt Col Orval J Miller arrived to take over with the 106th General Hospital out of Fort McClellan. They were to stay and run the hospital untill 11th July 1945. Over this sixteen month period the records tell us that up to 20,000 patients were treated, including out patients, at the hospital in the park!
Only three buildings and some concrete roads survive in the park from the 1000 bed hospital, but with help from volunteers both here and in America we have made contact with many people involved with the site and relatives of some of the staff who worked at the hospital. It is through their generosity that we have memories of parties at the hospital from local residents, letters written from the hospital asking for chocolate and many wonderful photographs of the staff and site.
Along with the declassified documents from Washington we have a personal story of what happened in the park at Kingston lacy during WWII.
There are far too many stories and things to tell you in one post so we will pick one of the people at a time and tell you a bit about their time at Kingston Lacy, so keep following 🙂
My Grandfather was a Hungarian prisoner of war and was at Kingston Lacey American us general hospital, his name was Anton Sandor. Do you have any records of him and how long he stayed there. He died about 20 years ago and never talked about anything to do with the war . The only thing I do know is that when I was a child and we we were out for a family drive one day as we drive passed Kingston Lacey estate he said that is where I was kept during the war.
Any records or information would be greatly received .
We have very little information about the POW camp, I have sent you an e mail.
Great article! I had a walk around Pamphill Green last night to try and find the location where the baseball photo was taken. In the carpark by the Pamphill Manor, I saw some unusual tree graffiti (unusual in that it was carved into very rough bark and must of taken some time to do). It’s not unusual for US troops to carve initials, hometown, unit numbers etc. into trees. This one was a square with a large ‘1’ on the left and a ‘M’, ‘H’ with the M over the H. (I can send you a photo if that helps). It looks of the right time period. I was wondering if it was an abbreviation for ‘Military Hospital’? Very difficult to say I’d imagine, but any thoughts you may have on it would be gratefully received.
Hi Dominic, Thank you, and a great spot! Yes please to a photo! we haven’t done any tree graffiti work in that area its defiantly something worth looking for. If you are walking about the estate it would be great if you could be our eyes and see if you can find anymore. If you were up for doing it we could sort out some maps etc so we can get it all plotted and recorded 🙂 Not sure what time you have or if you would be interested do let me know. My e mail is Nancy.email@example.com It maybe something to do with tree surveys in the past but we need to do more research
Yes Nancy, that would be great. I’ll send you a separate email with the photo’s