New book shines light on war hospitals in Shropshire, including Iscoyd

Reporter:

Lucy Wain

A book based on the five United States hospitals in Shropshire during the Second World War will be published at the end of the month.

Hospital Center 804 was the title given to the cluster of five U.S military hospital sites – Penley, Llanerch Panna, Oteley Deer Park, Iscoyd Park and Halston Hall – in the Shropshire/Flintshire border area during the Second World War. The headquarters of this cluster was originally located in Gwernheylod, Flintshire but was moved to Whitchurch, Shropshire in July 1944.

All five of the hospitals were built by British engineers between 1943-1944 and pre D-Day they acted as medical units for U.S soldiers training in the area, but after the invasion of the Normandy beaches they received casualities from the combat zone who had travelled by train from ports in the south of England.

The hospitals were each built to house around 1,000 patients, however, due to higher casualty figures than expected during the Battle of the Bulge, it was necessary for all of the hospitals to extend their capacity by fixing winterised tents onto the ends of the brick-built wards.

The influx of American personnel into the area had a big impact on the surrounding towns. A number of the female residents succumbed to the charms of the smartly dressed servicemen with the ‘Hollywood’ accents and as the war progressed there were a number of weddings between local girls and American soldiers.

On November 27, 1944, St George’s Catholic Church in Whitchurch was the scene of the wedding between Lieutenant Gilbert Weiss and nurse, Angela De Gioia from the 82nd General Hospital based at Iscoyd Park.

US Army Hospital Center 804’ looks at the day-to-day activities of the military hospitals using archive material and accounts and previously unpublished photos from those who were there at the time and their relatives, it also looks in depth at the stories of some of the patient-soldiers who passed through the hospitals. The book touches on the impact the occupants of the camps and other US camps in the area, had on the surrounding towns.

n Signed copies of U.S. Army Hospital Center 804 are available from the authors Martin and Fran Collins at a cost of £12.95 and £2 postage. This can be paid through Paypal: francollins@mail.com or by cheque payable to Mrs F. D. Collins posted to Martin and Fran Collins, 3 Ipswich Crescent, Great Barr, Birmingham B42 1LY.

See full story in the Whitchurch Herald

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