Arrington History Page
This page last updated on: Tuesday 2 April, 2002
A contact point for enquiries and information about the 163rd General Army Hospital, 3rd Hospital Group and the 7510 United States Air Force Hospital, situated in Wimpole Park, Cambridgeshire.
This page was begun on Monday 23 July 2001.
I am seeking information, photographs, dates, website links, people or history, plus any personal memories and reminiscences. Contributions will initially be published on this new page with the later intention of assembling a proper on-line history relating to all aspects of the two hospitals. Please e-mail Steve Odell.
Guest Book Entry
I was born at the hospital at Wimpole Park on May 13 1955, to an Air Force father and English mother. I came to the US in February of '56, so have no memory of the place, but it was overwhelming to see the photographs and get a feel for my roots.
Shelby Dupuy email@example.com
Wimpole Park School Photo 1947
I can identify the boy sitting on the grass in front of Mr Summer. His name is Bobby Miller.
Guest Book Entry
My name was Kendra Jo Benefield, I was born at 7510 United States Air Force Hospital, situated in Wimpole Park, Cambridgeshire, on May 12, 1956. My father was Billy Ray Benefield and my mother was Loma Ray Benefield.
My father drove an ambulance at the base. I would be interested in talking with others who had children born there and/or children who were born there during the 1950's.
Kendra Benefield Lester firstname.lastname@example.org
Guest Book Entry
My husband was a flight surgeon assigned to Bentwaters AFB in 1955-1958.
Our oldest son was born at Wimpole Park on March 16, 1956. I didn't see much of the hospital complex, which was a group of quanset huts. I do remember walking from our hut to the dining area of another. It was good exercise to prepare for the 90 mile trip back to Thorpness, where we lived.
I do remember, and appreciate, the good care I got.
Because he was born in an Air Force hospital leased from the British, Ronnie had dual citizenship until the age of 21. I've really enjoyed looking at the web site. Thank you.
Barbara A. Crossno email@example.com
Wimpole Park School c1950
We now have a second Wimpole Park School photograph. We think it shows pupils in either 1950 or 1951.
Photograph kindly loaned by Rose-Mary McGee (nee Bullen).
Back row (left to right): Harry
Booth, Senior?, Roger
Bullen, Colin Cristy, girl, girl,
girl, girl, girl, boy, boy.
Can you help to identify the remaining unidentified pupils?
163rd General Hospital
The 163rd's Commanding Officer was Lt. Colonel John H. Lesher MC.
The 163rd General Hospital was the last US Army Hospital in East Anglia to become operational. The unit opened for patients in October 1944, at Wimpole Park, Cambridgeshire.
It later became an assembly centre for American patients from the other eight US Army hospitals in the immediate area who were being sent back to the states (Zone of Interior). The remaining patients of the 121st Station Hospital, located in Braintree, Essex were evacuated to the 163rd GH during the first week of June, 1945. The majority of these patients were surgical cases.
Panorama across the Wimpole Park site from due north to
"Sometime immediately after the Second World War, the United States Army vacated Wimpole Park Hospital.
The core of the Hospital complex was then used for teacher training to help servicemen returning to civilian life. A Mr Wickstead of Wickstead Park fame was somehow involved. There were many wartime evacuees from London and other places who moved into the empty accommodation sections of the Hospital (mainly around the outer perimeter). Some squatted there illegally - most later paid rent to the local authority.
At about this time, the Wimpole Park School was started. It was situated inside a second entrance to Wimpole Park opposite the Crow End houses at the bottom of Arrington Hill. Children from the age of seven years up to school leaving age were drawn from Wimpole, Arrington and possibly Orwell. The education authorities provided cycles for all those travelling any distance. No American children that I remember went to the Wimpole Park School.
Photograph kindly loaned by Brenda and Michael Skinner
Back row (left to right): Terry
Dixon, Ken Starling, Reg
Hagger, Brian Norton, Chris
In 1952 the United States Air Force re-used the central buildings as a hospital once again. The school and those living in the outer accommodation buildings remained.
The hospital was completely self-contained with its own power and water supply and it even had its own sewerage beds. The military hospital was the main source of employment for men and women in the area at a very depressed time, when there was little work to be had apart from farm work.
I was at Wimpole Park School from 1950 to 1954 and participated in its destruction in 1959-60."
Photographs of Wimpole Park
The following photographs of the Wimpole Park hospital site were taken on 2 January 2002, which was a clear cold frosty day. Click here for a set of larger images.
|From the West
The Arrington Gates to the Wimpole Hall Estate looking to the North East. Wimpole Park hospital was situated on an area of level ground just inside the gates.
|Just inside the Arrington Gates and looking North East straight across the main site of the hospital.|
|If you then turn left and follow the tree line for around 400 yards, this is the view looking south back along your path. The hospital extended across the area of grassland to the left.|
|From the East
Wimpole Hall, the largest country house in Cambridgeshire, and now owned by the National Trust. Take the trackway to the left which leads west towards the Arrington Gates....
|A general view from the trackway halfway between Wimpole Hall and the Arrington Gates. The hospital site is directly ahead, behind the single trees in the centre of the photograph.|
|Across the main hospital site looking west towards the Arrington Gates.|
Wimpole Park Reunion 2002
My name is Joan Kjargaard (nee Knight). I worked at Wimpole Park from 1952 until September 1957 when I left for Canada (see also Guest Book Entry below).
I am currently the Secretary of the 7510th U.S.A.F Wimpole Park Reunion and our next Reunion is to be held in Dayton, Ohio from September 26th through to the 29th at the Best Western Executive Hotel, 2401 Needmore Road, Dayton. 45414. Tel:937-278-5711.
Contact at membership level: Rowland Garver of Peru, Indiana.
Guest Book Entry
My name is Joan Kjargaard (nee Knight). I worked at Wimpole Park from its opening in 1952 until I left in September 1957 to emigrate to Canada.
I was the base seamstress and my office was in the Linen Control building. I met hundreds of Americans in the course of my work. Initially I furnished the hospital, then the Interdenominational Chapel, using my furnishing skills to provide for the three religions that practised there. I (together with most of the English staff) painted many of the Chapel windows during lunch hours - it was a gift from us. I know several people are wondering if any windows survived when Wimpole Park was restored to its former Park setting, or perhaps there are former members who have photographs?
I was a former Cambridge Art student and enjoyed drawing many of the Wimpole Park weekly Magazine front pages. I also brought sketches to Canada of staff members in my building. I have lists of the entire Hospital Staff at Thanksgiving, when I and my brother John Knight were invited to the wonderful dinner!
I have been married for 40 years. My husband Peder and I live on Vancouver Island and have attended many Wimpole Park reunions held throughout the USA
As Secretary, I would value any input for the upcoming Reunion in Dayton, Ohio.
Guest Book Entry
Seeking information concerning Wimpole Park Hospital. I have a son who was born there in the late fifties.
Raymond D. Andersen
Guest Book Entry
My father was stationed at Wimpole Park from 56 to 59. I went to school at Bushy Park the same years. My years there were filled with fond memories of the base and the village. Thanks for creating this interesting web site.
The 3rd Hospital Group was formed at Sampson Air Force Base, Geneva, New York in early l952. The personnel consist of doctors, nurses, medical techs, cooks, motor pool and support personnel of approximately 250-300 troops. We departed Sampson in early August l952 for Camp Kilmer, New Jersey for shipment to England.
We left Kilmer for the Brooklyn Navy Yard and boarded the USS General Darby, docking at Southampton 7-8 days later. We were bussed to a small USAF Base called Shaftsbury and stayed there the Friday and Saturday. On Sunday we were bussed to Wimpole Park arriving late in the afternoon and assigned our barracks.
After we all got settled, the Commander (Col Charles H. Morhouse) authorized us to go off base for a few hours. The Hardwicke Arms in Arrington was the first focal point as well as the Green Plunge in Royston. Me and my buddies went to the Green Plunge. I ordered a glass of ice tea and was served a cup of hot tea and small piece of ice. We all got a good laugh out of that.
Two or three months later Wimpole Park became the 75l0 USAF Hospital. I have a lot of good memories about Wimpole and will write more about them later.
Howard J Applegate
Many thanks, Howard. All memories and photographs of Wimpole Park
Guest Book Entry
I came over and opened Wimpole Park with the 3rd Hospital Group and named later the 7510th USAF Hospital in August l952. I was stationed at Wimpole Park from l952 to l955 in the Air Police Section.
We hold Wimpole Park reunions every 2 years at different locations. We also hold small reunions just for the Air Police.
After all my years in the Air Force, Wimpole Park was the best assignment ever. I am now retired for quite a few years and have been back to England a few times. I am married to a Biggleswade girl and met her while at Wimpole. We married in l955. Pc Cyril Rumbold was the policeman we all worked with.
Your web site is outstanding, it is nice to get info.
If I can be of any help or information please contact me.
Howard J Applegate
War Time Role for Meldreth Station
"Meldreth Railway Station was used as a stopping off point for trains carrying injured American servicemen during World War II. The servicemen were travelling to a military hospital at Wimpole Hall. A special concrete road was built to allow the troops to be put into vehicles for the road journey to Wimpole in a siding of their own.
"Ethel Adcock worked in Cambridge during the war but had her family in Melbourn. "We were not allowed near the sidings. They used to take all the service people who were wounded off the trains at the sidings and then to the hospital in ambulances. There was activity all the time and a lot of trains but you did not see any people."
(Souvenir Brochure commemorating 150 years of Meldreth Station, 1 August 2001)
Although I can probably sort out some of the history of the two hospitals from a English viewpoint, can anyone approach the US Army and/or US Air Force and ask for access to base records to establish official operation dates, list of commanding officers, and/or base service history? While the US bases existed, they were situated on 'American soil' and therefore not subject to English law or jurisdiction. Official records in England are proving hard to find. Please e-mail Steve Odell.
Miscellaneous Internet Search:
"I represent the following organisation and would appreciate it if our reunions could be listed: The Wimpole Park, England, Reunion Association; Our next reunion will be at the Best Western Palmer House, 3010 N Chestnut St, Colorado Springs CO 80907 from September 21, 00 thru September 24, 00. Call or E-mail Rowland D Garver at 765-473-7184 or firstname.lastname@example.org Call or e-mail the above numbers. Sincerely yours; Rowland" (e-mail: 25-Jul-01 Rowland, I am setting up a page on the history of the USAF Hospital at Wimpole Park on the Arrington site and would welcome any information on The Wimpole Park, England, Reunion Association.)
"American aircraft "Lady Helen of Wimpole" was named after Lt Helen Pierson, ANC, who was assigned to the 163rd Gen. Hospital at Wimpole Park and later married 401BS CO John Davis. The naming ceremony is thought to have taken place in April/May of 1944."
"Message posted by Michael Jeffrey Valadez (email@example.com) on Saturday, July 17 [year unknown] Message: I was born in Wimpole Park, Cambridgeshire England in 1953. My Father was in the US Air Force stationed there. I am trying to acquire any information regarding the place of my birth. I don't know if I was born in a military or a civilian facility. Duxford is as close as I could get to anything resembling an airfield or base of any kind near my birthplace. Are there others in the general vicinity?" (e-mail: 25-Jul-01 - Michael, I am just setting up a page on the history of the Wimpole Park Hospital base on the Arrington website. Please visit the new page.)
"BRIGADIER GENERAL CHARLES H. MORHOUSE Retired March 1962, Died Nov. 1, 1975. In 1952 a hospital group was organised which he took to the United Kingdom and established a 250 bed hospital at Wimpole Park in East Anglia. In 1954 be was appointed surgeon of the 3rd Air Force."
"MAJOR GENERAL JOHN K. CULLEN Retired Jan. 31, 1965, Died Oct. 25,
"BRIGADIER GENERAL (DR.) ROBERT G. MCIVER Retired Feb. 1, 1980, Died Dec. 8, 1998. General McIver began his career as an enlisted man in the U.S. Navy and served as seaman second class in Bainbridge, Md., from 1945 to 1946. He returned to active duty as a medical officer in January 1957 and was assigned to Wimpole Park USAF Hospital in Cambridge, England. In December 1959 he was transferred to the Air Force hospital at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., as chief of anesthesiology."
"Ronald J. Crossno, M.D. Dr. Crossno is Board-Certified in Family Practice, Emergency Medicine, and Hospice and Palliative Medicine. In 1984, he joined the Rockdale Medical Association, the Clinic he now operates with John M. Weed III, M.D..Dr. Crossno earned his Medical Degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, graduating first in a class of 137 students. Dr. Crossno is a Fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians and the American Academy of Family Physicians. He was born at Arrington Air Force Base at Wimpole Park, England."
"....There was a tremendous boom in amateur music shortly after the Second World War, and summer schools sprang up like mushrooms throughout the UK. In 1948, the Standing Conference of County Music Committees set up its own Advisory Committee on Amateur Opera to try to organise a summer school for Opera. The first school was held in 1950, at Wimpole Park, near Cambridge. More specifically, it took place in a disused American Army hospital, in the grounds of the stately mansion! The course cost seven guineas (£7.35/$10.65), and students slept in large dormitories. A very few single rooms were available, but cost an extra ten shillings (50p/73c) for the week! The first school was not an overwhelming success, with thirty-six students rather than the expected eighty. It had a broad syllabus, with extracts from Il Trovatore, The Marriage of Figaro and The Beggar's Opera. The school had ten staff, headed by the Director - Sumner Austin MA....."
"I'm told I was born in a hospital at a place called Wimpole Park;
has anyone ever heard of it? Does it still exist? I'd like to visit it
sometime. I'd be grateful for any information anyone may have for me.
323rd Bomb Squadron Memorial
The memorial pictured below is in Wimpole Park but not directly related to the hospitals (So I'll remove this item once the military history starts falling into place). However, it beautifully illustrates another American wartime involvement on the Wimpole Park estate.
B-17 bombers from 323rd Bomb Squadron were parked and concealed within the South Avenue, a wide double row of mature elm trees that stretched for two miles across the estate, starting a little south of the front elevation of Wimpole Hall.
In the 1949 aerial photograph on the right, South Avenue can be seen stretching away from Wimpole Hall at the bottom of the picture. The service "pads" and Bassingbourn Airfield can just be glimpsed right at the very top of the picture. The military hospital complex was approximately half a mile off to the right of this image.
The memorial inscription reads:
"In memory of and dedicated to the 323rd Bomb Squadron airman of
the 91st Bomb Group (Heavy), 8th Air Force, USAAF Station 121, Bassingbourn,
Photograph of the Memorial by Steve Pena
(Question) I was in the Air Force stationed at Alconbury Air Force Base when my son, Brian Scott Cummings, was born at Arrington Parish, Cambridgeshire, England in the military hospital on November 5, 1959. We desperately need a certified copy of his birth certificate but cannot find a web site, address, or telephone number to order and/or obtain one. If you have information on how we can obtain this much needed document please advise me as soon as possible. We now have a "copy" of this certificate however, it is not certified. Thank you for any information you can supply on this matter.
(Answer) The Public Record Office does have a priority certificate order service. An extract from the website is detailed below (costs around £30 ($45)):
"If you need a certificate quickly, you can apply in writing, by telephone or by fax and ask for the priority service. If you use this service we will post certificates to you the next working day after receipt. You can get more information about this service on +44 (0)151 471 4572 or fax +44 (0)1704 568315.'
The Web address is: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/nbase/registration/certificates.asp
Offer of Photographs
Charles Schable has offered some photographs of his family taken in the base circa 1958/59. The offer has been accepted. Watch this space.
Guest Book Entry
Our oldest son was born in Wimpole Park USAF hospital. A web search brought me to this site, but it is only comments and requests. What is the website that shows the hospital, and what happened to it, and when? Thank you in advance for any info.
(follow-up e-mail) Our son was born May 2, 1958, and I had spent my time in the hospital the entire months of March and April. I left the hospital on May 14th and registered our son with the registrar in Melbourn. We were stationed at Woodbridge AF base in East Anglia, a long ride away. Wimpole Park was the closest AF medical facility - we lived in Ipswich. I don't think I have any pictures taken at the hospital.
Wimpole Hall Guide Book
"The house [Wimpole Hall] was not requisitioned by the War Office, put off both by lack of services and by pleas from those, like the Professor of Botany at Cambridge, who did not want the precious park landscape destroyed. Instead, part of the estate on the Arrington side was taken over as an American army hospital...... [After the war] The American base, which became first a teacher-training college and then temporary local authority housing, was a constant source of irritation [to Wimpole Hall's owner, Mrs Bambridge] until its final demolition...."
Guest Book Entry
My father was in the USAF and we were stationed at Wimpole Park Air Force Base in the late 50s. I was 14/15 years old and have many fond memories of those times. I was wondering if any of the old buildings that comprised the base are still extant? The installation was primarily a hospital that served the American forces in the area.
Guest Book Entry
I love the photographs. I was born at Wimpole Hall while my Dad was stationed in England during 1952-53. I was in Britain in 1970 but was unable to visit my birthplace. Thank you so much for allowing me to see where I was born.
Any information on the USAF Hospital which was maintained at Wimpole Park would be appreciated. My Dad is no longer alive to give me the information. Are there any pictures existing of the time of operation of the hospital? Are there any sites for those of us born there to US Servicemen to visit or communicate with each other? Any information would be greatly appreciated.
Guest Book Entry
Have you any information on the United States Air Force
hospital in Wimpole Park? Or perhaps you could direct me to a source?
I was born there on 06 December 1955 to an English mother and a USAF father.
My mother has passed on and I am looking to rediscover my roots. My mother
was Betty Rosina Smith and my father was Harvey Ray Haynes.
Sherry Ann Badillo, Palmer, Alaska,
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This page last updated on: Tuesday 2 April, 2002.
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