‘Here Gen. Montgomery stayed and ate before the invasion…..’

Ted Applegate

Major Ted Applegate

Just recently I have managed to make contact again with the lovely family of Major Ted Applegate. It is always worth trying the internet every now and then when searching for a lost contact 🙂

Grace, one of his daughters, has recently sent another of her Dad’s letters written while based at the American Army hospital during WWII at Kingston Lacy. We got very excited as it was about a visit inside the big mansion. It is wonderful to get first hand accounts of our properties in the past. A fresh eye on the contents and place and we often glean important or interesting information we would never have discovered in the estate archives.

Anton W Sohrweide sat next to Kingston Lacy

Anton W Sohrweide sat next to Kingston Lacy

We had gathered from other family members of staff who served at the American hospital that they were allowed up to the house and that the officers had use of some rooms in the house. But we had no real details to confirm the past memories and snippets. I have reproduced the letter below as it speaks for itself….

Ted’s letter home –

Monday 1830, 6 November 1944, England –

Dearest Margie

………………I must tell you! I had the most amazing experience today. Ten of us were invited to go thru Kingston-Lacy estate, the manor house. The agent’s kindness was great and he took us thru himself.

As you enter the large entrance hall – all the beautiful marble with fluted columns – the pieces that take the eye are four enormous deeply and intricately carved teakwood chests about four feet high and eight feet long. They are massively exquisite! Swords, pikes, daggers, shields and armor adorn the walls in profusion. The carving on the chests is Jacobean (?). There are two daintily fine French cabinets. Enormous vases stand here and there. Two steps straight ahead take you to a right angle hallway which leads to marble stairs to the left. Here is a Van Dyke painting of a cavalier – another point of interest is a chair attached to a marble cabinet in which is a balance with bronze weights marked in measurement of stone (7 lbs). You sit in the leather chair and weigh yourself. It is 17th century. As you walk up the marble stairway toward a one piece window which much be 6 x 10 feet you are struck by the enormous bronze figures lying on the stairwell ledgers looking down. They are the works of Michael Angelo! The stair makes one (180 degrees) turning and on the walls are two enormous paintings of dogs attacking a bull. They were painted for one of the Kings of France! They were a gift to the owner years ago – or the master as they speak of him.

Now we go into the library. The room is enormous and above the book lined walls are life sized paintings of the ancestors running back to 1700! Some of the books, most of them in fact, are old enormous works of art, some printed by hand! Desks, chairs, footstools are all most interesting, all very old and in excellent shape. I could have spent months there with pleasure.

Adjoining is the saloon. I can’t begin to tell you of half the marvels here. Enamel portraits of many people of the times – most, most beautiful China figurines and some unbelievably delicate. Lace over the hair, around the collars and sleeves which I felt sure must be lace until I looked at it with a magnifying glass. There were some pieces exactly similar to what you have on the way. Two Van Dykes were here.

Now into the drawing room. Twice as big – really an enormous room. (All the ceilings are beautifully painted with figures) the overhanging border near the ceiling looks as though the room as been prepared for indirect lighting. Gold leaf adorns it! Here is an enormous painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds and another by Rembrandt! Many others whose names are not familiar to me, several Dutch names. An ebony and ivory cabinet heavily inlaid with mother of pearl! It is most delicate. A book of signatures bears many King’s names, the Duke of Windsor’s, German Emperor, or Duke of Wellington, etc. etc. I can’t remember everything – museum pieces were in the greatest profusion. Every door everywhere was carved deeply and signed by – Gobelin (?) I’m not sure of the name but he should be famous.

Now into the small or private dining room. The walls are oak covered with the original leather all over. It is dark and cracked. The ceiling is most beautifully carved and covered with gold leaf! Here Gen. Montgomery stayed and ate before the invasion for two weeks with his staff! This room has many pieces about the room from Spain. It is called the Spanish Room.

Now the State dining room. It must be 40 feet square. An enormous massive circular mahogany table in the center would seat a regiment. The walls are oak paneled and the doors are two inches thick plus the carvings which are 3 or more inches bas-relief. Tapestries long on each wall and the most colorful and beautiful I ever saw.

From here we went upstairs again to the bedrooms. About 10 of these have little dressing or sitting rooms adjoining & also a bathroom – but there are no fixtures or tub or anything. The bath was made ready by the servants. All beds are four posters (10 feet). Prints and bric-a-brac of all periods adorn everywhere. Now upstairs again to the nursery and servants quarters. The corner bedrooms are adorned to make them appear as tents. Cords (wood carved) run down the seams from the top from head height they taper to a point. At the head of these top stairs is a low gate (carved, of course) to prevent the youngsters falling downstairs – the servants’ quarters are as nice as ours at home. From here we went onto the roof. The roof is solid sheet lead! The chimneys (4) are enormous and each has 8 big lead rectangular outlets, all of lead. The agent said each weighed 300 lbs.

Now to catch up a few points – a picture in the drawing room – glass encased is worth 1/4 million ($1,000,000). I didn’t hear the name of the author or painter it is Madonna with two children.

The chandeliers (4) deserve a word. Cut glass, very intricate and enormous. Each was alike in drawing room, salon and two dining rooms. They must be 8 ft high and four across. They held I guess 100 candles. How they sparkled.

Now down to the 1st basement where is the room which we would call the den where the gentlemen retired after dinner for their smoking. Paneled walls of Belgian oak, racy and racing prints and prints of beautiful horses, many hunting scenes and such – a wheeled server for liquor and wines and such was beautiful with recessed and carved receptacles for glasses and decanters, all filled with proper glasses. Then across the low ceilinged wide hall to the billiard room with a full sized (not our size) table similarly decorated. The present master has a bed here where he sleeps when he comes here. His sister sleeps in the smoking room.

Now to the kitchen. The original tables and benches and ovens are here! It is enormous, the tops of the tables are 2 inches thick and sturdy as stone. The floor is flagged with large stones. The ovens are built in the wall (new electric stoves stand beside them).

The two obelisks I spoke of previously were brought from Egypt and the cornerstone was laid by the Duke of Wellington, Napoleon’s nemesis.

Some of the doors took 3 years – for their carving – and they look it.

A total of 56,000 acres append the estate. They are taxed all but 6 pence out of each pound of revenue – the gov’t gets $3.90 out of $4.00!

I don’t want to bore you but I wanted to tell you about this. It is all so very interesting to me & I wish you could see it. You would love it. I’d never get you away.

In the library are all the old keys to Corfe Castle, some as long and heavy as my forearm. Many other old relics of Corfe are in the second basement beneath the first but he said he couldn’t take us there. There are 27 bedrooms not counting the servants’ quarters

Here I have done all this writing and no work done so I will have to get busy, my love. If you don’t mind, Mother would probably enjoy reading about these things. I am getting writer’s cramp & can’t make my pen behave – I have been hurrying to get to my work.

How about sending me a couple of pairs of cheap cotton gloves to protect my hands from this coke & coal I have to handle? Did you say you had sent me some nuts? West is going to London next week and will take my film to be developed, then I’ll send it to you.

I love you my dearest, but I wonder if you have read this far. Goodnight and kiss my girls for me – I kiss you in spirit my love – and in person. Again someday I hope – soon.

Always your faithful – servant! and husband,

Ted

Thank you once again Grace and family for treating us to such a wonderful insight in to life during the war on an English country estate.

 

 

Giving memories a voice

We can write down our memories for future generations to read, but we can also hear the past through sound recordings and videos.

Today Alex is visiting from The Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeological Network (CITiZAN http://www.citizan.org.uk), an organization set up in response to dynamic threats to our island coastal heritage. It is a community archaeology project and actively promotes site recording and long-term monitoring programmes led by volunteers.

Alex will be soon leading a walk at Studland on the Dorset coast, looking at the WWII sites, and as well as research for the tour she hopes to play snippets from our sound archive of local people talking about what it was like, what they saw and stories of life in Studland during WWII.

Studland played an important part in WWII as a testing area for amphibius tanks and  fougasse (burning sea). In April 1944 Prime Minister Winston Churchill, King George VI and General Dwight D. Eisenhower (Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces and in charge of the military operation) met at Fort Henry on Redend Point at Studland to watch the combined power of the Allied Forces preparing for D-Day.

Alex l listening to the taped memories and working on her tour notes

Alex listening to the taped memories and working on her tour notes

 

The copies of the small sound archive we hold at the office are all still on original cassette tapes. For younger readers there is a picture below of what one is!

A cassette tape

A cassette tape

 

 

Alex has had to come and use our old technology to be able to then record a digitized copy for use in the field. We will need to digitize our archive so the recordings are more accessible. Luckily we have a cassette transcribing machine and a cassette player. The transcriber has extra controls so you can slow the tape down, change the tone and various backspace and counter options. It even has a foot pedal control!

Transcribing machine –  a special purpose machine which is used for voice recording processing, so the recording can be  written in hard copy form.

The Transcribing machine

The Transcribing machine

 

 

One day these machines will become part of the archaeological archives. At the moment they are thankfully still available and needed to play the memories from the past.

National Trust HBSMR and Windush

A WWII access track leading to a building in the trees.

A WWII access track leading to a building in the trees.

The National Trust owns many 1000s of archaeological sites. Some were purchased specifically but most were acquired by accident… in the sense that either we didn’t know they were there or perhaps the mansion house, art collection, garden, nature conservation or landscape value of the place was thought to be the pre-eminent reason for protecting it.

Every bit of land it seems has some sort of archaeology. Sometimes it’s a nationally significant site like a Neolithic causewayed enclosure or a Roman villa or sometimes its not so special like a 20th century sand pit (sincere apologies to archaeological sand pit enthusiasts).

We need to know what we’ve got as far as possible so it can be looked after appropriately.. so each piece of land should have a historic landscape and archaeological survey which unwraps the story of the people who occupied it and how they used it back down through the generations.

Every site gets a unique number.. a description.. a condition statement.. and recommendation on how it should be looked after. The information is put in our database HBSMR (Historic Buildings Sites and Monuments Record). Every building has a number… every earthwork… every buried site (that we know about), each find spot and scatter of debris found in a ploughed field… and even every sand pit.

Two air vents still attached to the collapsed roof of an RAF structure.

Two air vents still attached to the collapsed roof of an RAF structure.

We bring together all existing information and build on it over time typing it into the record and adding reports and notes on monitoring and work carried out on the site.

Three WWII blister hangers now used as farm buildings.

Three WWII blister hangers now used as farm buildings.

The information is now available on-line. Not perfect yet but it will get better. Type into Google… Heritage Gateway and search on the National Trust place you want to look at. For example, type the name Windrush and you will see.. third down below the lilac non-statutory organisations band.. National Trust HBSMR. 78 results.

View towards the rampart of Windrush Iron Age hillfort from the weathered brickwork of a WWII building.

View towards the rampart of Windrush Iron Age hillfort from the weathered brickwork of a WWII building.

Windrush is a scheduled Iron Age hillfort but it stands amongst the most extensive WWII air base the NT owns. Used as a pilot training base from 1940-45. Now a private tenanted farm full of gently decaying brick and concrete structures within woodland and pasture. There is a WWII map that describes the use of each structure.

View of the Watch Office from the pill box which once guarded RAF Windrush.

View of the Watch Office from the pill box which once guarded RAF Windrush.

The concrete identification code UR can be seen in giant letters in front of the air control Watch Office tower guarded by an octagonal pill box. It was bombed in 1940.. and one of the unarmed Avro Anson trainer planes rammed a Heinkel and brought it down. The RAF pilot Bruce Hancock is commemorated for his bravery in the local church.

The storm has passed…..

At last, after three months, we have high pressure over us in Dorset, gone are the storms, and in the sky a shiny, glowing, warm object.  Time to check our site at Hive Beach to see if it still exists! 

Hive  Beach cafe in the background and in the foreground our site

Hive Beach cafe in the background and in the foreground our site

As I drove down the road I saw the welcome site of the cafe and the NT information hut, the car park and the wall next to the sea. Passed the wall could be a different sight, I parked and headed for the low cliff were our excavated building was. There was definite evidence of waves  having broken over the cliff and in people from the cafe told me the waves had come right up to their veranda.

Looking East before the storms
Looking East before the storms
Looking East after the storms

Looking East after the storms

The change in the profile of the cliff was very obvious and parts of the building were on the beach. I walked along the top and checked a scar at the side of the site, I noticed some shattered pebble flint. As I moved to get a better look and a photo I slipped down the scar and ended up on the beach! Oh well at least I could now see the remains of the building better, and the sticky clay all over me would soon dry!

Looking at the back wall of the building from the beach before the storm

Looking at the back wall of the building from the beach before the storm

Looking at the back wall of the building from the beach after the storm

Looking at the back wall of the building from the beach after the storm

Although we have lost parts of the floor and plaster from the walls the site has acted like a erosion barrier, with the cliff either side eroding much more. The most obvious change is the now straight section through the beach and ground the house was built on, we can see the stratigraphy, the different types of sand deposits and also how shallow the foundations are.

The storm cleaned section

The storm cleaned section

Further along to the east of the building, a section of  wire and metal fence stakes had been uncovered by the storms, they must be part of the WWII defences erected over 70 years ago. 

the metal stakes and wire fence uncovered by the storms at Hive Beach

the metal stakes and wire fence uncovered by the storms at Hive Beach

Like many others over the past hundred years I took  photograph looking West to record this moment in time, so in years to come we can compare the cliff line after many more stormy seas  have swept in undermining the cliffs and devouring the land and buildings in its way.

The cliffs have suffered more falls of rock over the last few months

The cliffs have suffered more falls of rock over the last few months (or site is in the lower right)

Hive Beach view from the past looking west

Hive Beach view from the past looking west

News from the hospital

Anton Sorwiedi sat on the garden steps infront of Kingston Lacy mansion

Anton Sohrweide  sat on the garden steps in front of Kingston Lacy mansion

Having just been to hospital having turned my ankle (just a sprain) I thought it was time for a little bit more from the  WWII American Army hospital at Kingston Lacy. We get a great insight into life at the hospital through the letters and photographs we have in the archive, lots of details about the hospital site, staff and patients. From the archive we are even able to get an idea of what they did when on leave or had a day off, including visiting the wider estate and local sights.

At Corfe Castle, in the upper ward the Goriette in the background
At Corfe Castle, in the upper ward the Gloriette in the background

We have a few photographs taken at  Corfe Castle an early  medieval castle, and part of the Bankes estate since 1635. Most of the pictures feature the Officers but in one there is a large  group  including nurses as well.

the exit from the Keep, the main tower of the castle

the exit from the Keep, the main tower of the castle

We were never sure how much access to the house and gardens they had but from the photographs and memories we now know they used part of the house for the Officers and could also visit the gardens, right next to the house.

Corfe Castle main gate

Corfe Castle main gate

View of the castle with Boar Mill in the fore ground

               In the collection of photographs we have received from various families of staff who worked at the hospital we know they visited Southampton, London and even Scotland, this may have been after the war finished and before they went back to America.  

American ships docked in Southampton

American ships docked in Southampton

r Brideg

Adrian Mandel on Westminster Bridge front of the Houses of Parliament

The Forth bridge across the Firfth of Forth

The Forth bridge across the Firth of Forth

Hospital visiting time again

Adrian Mandel next to the hospital sign at Kingston Lacy

Adrian Mandel next to the hospital sign at Kingston Lacy

I promised more about the 106th American hospital that was based at Kingston Lacy, near Wimborne in Dorset, so here we go with the tale of a Adrian D Mandel, Bacteriologist.

Adrian’s son John kindly scanned all the photographs he found including what his Dad had written on the back. I  have made a small selection from the large collection and  start  his journey at Fort McClellan, then  a few from his time at Kingston Lacy and finish with John visiting last year the places his Dad had been.

Fort McClellen all ready to go

Fort McClellan all ready to go

June 18th 1944 – ‘Fort McClellan a few hours before leaving, the mens packs are all lined up ready to be slung on the racks. Today is the day we shall soon be off to lord knows where.’

Accomadation block at Kingston Lacy

accommodation block at Kingston Lacy

April 1945 – Kingston lacy  ‘my home in the E.T.O, shared with 15 other men. Triangular affair on the right is our gas attack alarm. The building in the shadows on the right is the latrine or ablutions as the English say. Again note the trees, truly we are in one of the nicest locations in England’

Wimbourne in Dorset

Wimborne in Dorset

April 1945 – Wimborne  ‘people lined up (que up) for ice-cream on one of the first days it was sold after 6 years of war. This so-called ice-cream tastes nothing like American ice-cream – probably due to the war.’

Inside one of the hospital buildings at Kingston Lacy

Inside one of the hospital buildings at Kingston Lacy

January 1945 –  ‘Mandel and Meites and a late night ‘smorgasboard’ after a usual poor supper. Tea, orange juice, cheese, crackers, sugar, sausage, I think Joe is hiding a salami in this picture. Note our  Coleman photo-electric spectrophotometer in the background’

Pamphill Green, Pamphill Manor on the left

Pamphill Green, Pamphill Manor on the left

May 1945 – ‘one of our field days, baseball game between officers and nurses. Nurse Lt Ventre at bat, Capt. Mac Farland mess officer catching, Spectators starting on the left Capt. Wroblewaki, Lt Col Cobb Chief of Surgery,  my buddy Meites and then McNamara the catholic chaplain. The house on the left is where the land army girls were’

The clowns were part of the field day events.

The clowns were part of the field day events.

May 1945 – ‘English children intently watching our two clowns (part of field day) Lt Mc Clellan and Lt Woodin making fun with a deck of cards. Those kids really had the time of their lives that day, including the best meal in 5 years’

Studious scene inside one of the hospital buildings at Kingston Lacy

Studious scene inside one of the hospital buildings at Kingston Lacy

 October 1944 – ‘T/G Flaherty hard at work reading the ‘Stars and Stripes’ “well fellows according to todays paper we should be home by — followed by uncomplimentary sounds from the rest of the men in the hut’

The 10 bed isolation ward building

The 10 bed isolation ward building

John at Kingston Lacy in the doorway of one of only three surviving structures left in the grounds of the house. This is a 10 bed isolation ward, now an archive store.

Adrian Mandels photograph of St Sephens Church on the estate April 1945

Adrian Mandel’s photograph of St Stephens Church on the estate April 1945

John Mandel at St Stephens church Sept 2012

John Mandel at St Stephens Church Sept 2012

I must thank  the families of the guys and girls who were based at Kingston Lacy for the information they give us it is amazing, a field of cows and sheep suddenly becomes filled with people going about their daily lives among the trees.

It started with Major Ted

The stories of life at the 106th American Army Hospital on the Kingston Lacy Estate (see post ‘we only get three candy bars…) started with an e-mail enquiry from Ted Applegate’s daughter Grace about a place in England they had read about in letters he wrote to his wife and family back home in America in the 1940s.

Ted Applegate

Ted Applegate

Maj. Ted Applegate was at the hospital working as an attending surgeon, surveying officer, Unit claims officer and admissions/disposition officer, he seems to have had the most ‘hats’ but still found time to write to his family most days.

His family has been very generous in providing transcripts of Ted’s letters, as his daughter says his writing is typical of all Dr’s, illegible!  I have picked out a few interesting snippets, I hope will give a flavour of what life was like for the guys so far away from home.

Kingston Lacy some of the American Army Hospital buildings

Kingston Lacy some of the American Army Hospital buildings

Wednesday 2018
19 July 1944
England

My Dearest

After supper I made my bed and put my clothes in my rough board hand-made box like cupboard.  I have a nice big English desk in the room which is quite lovely size.  Senior officers have a room to themselves.

We are quite near to that very lovely estate I told you about some days ago and we are among these great old trees; rolling hillocks abound, and much green, green  grass is everywhere.  It is lovely.

14 August 1944

 Send me some cashews!  Or send me some peanuts ‑ in tin cans preferably and be sure to pack very securely.  The box with this lovely writing pad in it was wide open on one side and I could see it had been well packed.  I guess you had better send me some more writing paper by the time you get this. This first tablet is almost gone.  I don’t want to run out.  The paper is hard to get here at all.  Even for army use.

 How I would love to sit down and eat some ice‑cream with you.  There is no such thing as ice‑cream!  We eat well but many of our foods are rebuilt dehydrated‑ applesauce, sweet potatoes, etc.  Most of it is good enough.

Friday, 20 October 1944

I don’t like or wear the under-drawers but I do like and need the chest protection.  In the ablution building where we shave and bathe you can see your breath!  Two nights a week only now we have a fire for showers.  During these nights the temperature gets up to 50 degrees in the shower room (the stove is in the adjoining room to the showers).

The aftermath of a tree falling on one of the buildings (Possibly the x-ray unit)

The aftermath of a tree falling on one of the buildings (Possibly the x-ray unit)

We had a tree fall on the x-ray building yesterday – came right through the roof and for a wonder did no damage except a few minor abrasions to a few patients and men.  It has been quite windy lately and these trees are nearly all more than a hundred years old.

Inside one of the wards

Inside one of the wards

Saturday, 28 October 1944  (1250)

I live only from day to day, my dear, and they are passing.  As an English woman said who talked to us a night or two ago we had our yesterdays, we will have our tomorrows so why worry about today!  This lady is a cultured lady from Lime Regis in this county who has three youngsters.  She is in British Intelligence.  She escaped the Nazis in Belgium, in France by the skin of her teeth in 1940 and has been working as liaison between the British and the underground movements in those countries the last four years.  She told us some of her experiences how they had a more or less regular courier service between them all the time. 

Spotless and shiney room

Spotless and shiny room

1735 Thursday 7 September 1944

I’m telling you, the spit and polish in the U. S. A. is nothing  to what it is over here.  I might almost say care of the patient is secondary.  They know we will do that work no matter what else we have to do so they really bear down on our housekeeping.  No man can find any dirt in my building anywhere, anytime.  A patient walks through or is carried through, he is followed by one of my boys with a dry mop, who wipes up his footprints.  We scrub and wax and polish our floor twice weekly.  Three privates have a police roster which they sign alternately every hour all day long.  During that hour he cleans, dusts, shines the brass faucets, polishes windows, empties wastebasket’s, picks up leaves, etc.  Every idle moment I have I walk about trying to see something wrong.  That is the way the Colonel wants it and that’s the way the STO wants it and that’s the way it shall be.  My two T/4S wouldn’t come up to my expectations so I had a buck sergeant put in over them and he is making them keep at it.  I was spending all my time or too much of it supervising them.  It runs better now and we shine.

00000045

   2240 Monday

 25 September (1944)

 Dearest, My Darling ‑

 We had officers’ call tonight until 800 and then a meeting of the board of governors which makes me quite late in getting to you.   I had to shave and now have on my pajamas ready for bed.  While I was at the club the fuse blew out in our quarters and it  may precipitate doing without our electric heaters.  I hope not.  We won’t be able to sit in our rooms at night if that happens!!  I am torn between two fires!  I really should go to London and see the points of interest being so close but with you being hard put to it to pay your necessary bills I am sorely tempted to send you a money order of my spare cash. I hope you can really relax after all these years but I am inclined to say, “show me!”  No, my dearest, please don’t worry about bills.  Do the best you can and from there the Lord will provide. That is the only certain thing in my life.  My love for you and ours is all there is in my life.  Always, your sweetheart who is in love with you more every day he lives.  Goodnight, my dear Margie.

                          Ted