Harrogate during WW2

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by Ollie Bear, Nov 2, 2011.

  1. Ollie Bear

    Ollie Bear Junior Member

    I am currently researching the history of Harrogate during WW2 and I'm trying to find out more about the Air Ministry which was located in the Grand Hotel. I am about to visit the National Archives at Kew, but I would also be keen to hear any first hand accounts from surviving veterans (military or civilian) who served there during the war. I have also put in requests via twitter and RAF News but would be grateful for any leads for more information. Many thanks.
     
  2. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    I would say that it would be an element of Lord Beaverbrook's Ministry of Aircraft Production was posted to Harrogate,it may have been 1940.

    My cousin had just graduated form university and she was conscripted into this department. She worked for the Air Ministry and the department was moved from London on account of the Luffewaffe bombing offensive.

    She later moved back to London and joked that she was relieved as she would rather risk the Luffewaffe than stand the weather up in Yorkshire.She continued to work for the Air Ministry throughout the war.
     
  3. Oldman

    Oldman Very Senior Member

    Harrogate in WWII

    RAF held hotels for Aircrew for crewing up
    Ministry of Defence had hotels for their offices and accommodation
    Royal Signals Army Camp
    Army Apprentice school
    Accommodation for a Y Station
    US Army hospital
    CWGC burial plot

    Suggest you contact the local library and Harrogate Advertiser and look at their records, also there is a very good local historian who could possibly help
     
  4. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    What a coincidence - I was working in Harrogate yesterday and wondered what happened there during the war.

    I suspect quite a few houses were used as Bde and Div HQ's etc. I'm some of I Corps troops were billeted there directly after Dunkirk before being deployed to the East coast.
     
  5. Ollie Bear

    Ollie Bear Junior Member

    A huge thanks to Harry Ree, Oldman & Drew5233 for your replies to my enquiry. As you can see I am a brand new member so your input is much appreciated!
    Harry Ree-thank you for the anecdote about your cousin's time in Yorkshire. I would love to hear any more details about her time in Harrogate.
    Oldman-thank you too for the comprehensive list of units/organisations based in Harrogate at the time. I am in the process of writing to local historian Malcolm Neesom so hopefully his expert knowledge of the area will also help my research.
    And thanks also to Drew5233-lucky you for being in Harrogate for the day, its such a super place. I will follow up your suggestions of the I Corps being billeted there after Dunkirk.
    All the best,
    Ollie Bear
     
  6. Oldman

    Oldman Very Senior Member

    Ollie
    Fact most of the Harrogate Hotels were requisitioned bythe Government Majestic Hotel was requisitioned on 8th Septemeber 1939, butre-opened as a hotel for that Christmas as the expected bombardment ofLondon did not happen, and ministry personnel had not evacuated the capitalcity it was re-requisitioned at a later date (can't rememberright now) and became "Personnel Reception Centre No. 7" and by September 1943,850Sgt Pilots were accomodated there a very good target the hotel was not de-requisitioned until 26th January 1946
    Crown Hotel was requisitioned in September 1939 and became the home of the Signals Staff from RAF Leighton Buzzard this was notde-requisitioned until as late as 1959

    The Prospect Hotel was occupied by the AirMinistrythe Grand Hotel was requisitioned 4th September1939


    The Queens Hotel was de-requisitioned on 25th February1946 used as an RAF Officer's Mess....
    The Granby Hotel was de-requisitioned and re-opened in October1946 after being used by the Savings Branch of the GPO


    The Cairn Hotel was requisitioned for the GPO and the MinistryofWorks
    The Royal Hotel was requisitioned as a leave centre for Canadian troops de-requisitioned 27th November 1946


    The indoormarketwas requisitioned but for what I don't know

    In fact 25 of the Harrogate Hotels were requisitioned of which 13 were de-requisitioned by August 1947 many of them never recovered
    fromthe loss of business
     
  7. Oldman

    Oldman Very Senior Member

    Bombing of Harrogate

    THE story of the nazi bombs that fell on and around the Hotel Majestic on 12th September 1940 has been told too often to bear repeating without a decent interval.
    However, I recently came across a document which casts new light on the reaction to that outrage, especially the resulting publicity. My document is a copy of a letter sent to the Minister of Information in London, a copy of which was also sent to the editor of the Harrogate Advertiser with the message that the Ministry letter could be published.
    As the offer was not taken up, the letter never appeared, although presumably it was posted to London. The letter was a response to a newspaper article about Harrogate by Peter Howard that appeared in the Daily Express on November 3 1940.
    Writing from no.3 Philippas Drive on November 8 1940, the author told the Minister of Information that "...the important feature of this article is that which deals with the alleged treatment meted out four years ago to some German aviators, and his inference that because of this treatment (the said aviators were alleged to have been turned away from the dining room because the cut of their dinner jackets was not up to Hotel Majestic standards!) one of the aviators vented his spite by bombing the hotel.
    The writer of the Express article was then reported to have criticised the luxury of the Hotel Majestic, and to have inferred that the bomb served the hotel right.
    The outraged resident in Phillipas Drive suggested to the Minister that Peter Howard's Express article was little more than an invitation to the nazis to return to Harrogate with more bombs.
    Today, I don't doubt that if the machine gun post outside the Crown Hotel had tried to shoot down the approaching bomber, some lawyer would sue the gunner for infringing the human "rights" of the nazi pilot.
     
  8. RemeDesertRat

    RemeDesertRat Very Senior Member

  9. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    Can I add that my mother enrolled with the ATS in Harrogate on 25th Sept 1942 - I was just discussing her war time service with her today (i.e. 4th Nov 2011).

    She did induction training in the Harrogate area for four weeks - she spent some part of that time at Queen Ethelburga's school which, I believe, is about 15 miles to the east.

    I'll ask more about Harrogate tomorrow - she remembers 1942 pretty clearly.
     
  10. Oldman

    Oldman Very Senior Member

    Bexley84
    Queen Ethelburgha's school held a number of units at various times including ATS,WAAF & WRNS accommodation for a Y station which was established on what became HMS Forest Moor.

    It also house a US Military Hospital towards the end of the war, alas it is no longer and the grounds and old school are now a housing estate.

    Let us know your mothers experinces in Harrogate if she is in agreeance
     
  11. Skoyen89

    Skoyen89 Senior Member

    There were two US general Hospitals in Harrogate in WWII - the 115th at Hildebrand barracks from July 1944 and the 116th at Uniake barracks. Both were in Penny Pot Lane and used British Army barracks built for the British Army in 1939. The hospitals were opened and readied by detachments from other US Hospitals in June 1944. The ATS camp with 1400 women was further along the lane at Queen Ethelberg's School.
     
  12. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Oldman - Am I correct in thinking there is a big CWGC plot in a Harrogate cemetery near the Hospital?
     
  13. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    I did meet my Mum today but didn't get the chance to discuss Harrogate Sept 1942. I'm out to lunch tomorrow Sunday with her and my brothers and shall try to make sure I raise the subject. If not then Monday, if not...she lives 2 miles away from me so plenty of opportunities.
     
  14. Oldman

    Oldman Very Senior Member

    Drew
    The Cemetery is just off the Wetherby Road on your left as you go towards Wetherby.

    It is Part of the Stonefall Cemetery and can be accessed from a gate near the traffic lights at Sainsburys or by taking the next left and travelling about 250 meters along the road.
     
  15. Oldman

    Oldman Very Senior Member

    Skoyen89

    Apparantly they used the school for head wound cases as to how many and how serious I do not know, my info comes from a lady who used to frequent dances with the American's posted there.
     
  16. sebfrench76

    sebfrench76 Senior Member

    I first thought Harrogante had something to see with arrogance ,a french way of living,so i was ready to help.But that was a misunderstanding,hihihi!
     
  17. Skoyen89

    Skoyen89 Senior Member

    Skoyen89

    Apparantly they used the school for head wound cases as to how many and how serious I do not know, my info comes from a lady who used to frequent dances with the American's posted there.

    The two units seem to have been general 'General Hospitals' in that they treated a range of wounds and illness requiring prolonged hospitalisation. That said I am sure head wounds would have been part of the mix and there may have been a specialist ward or two. Generally in 1944-5 each Hospital Group (made up of six to a dozen hospitals in a region) would have had some hospitals with specialisations (maxiillo-facial, neuro-surgery etc) but my notes suggest that these two were not that large or busy compared to other General Hospitals in the UK at the time.
     
  18. Oldman

    Oldman Very Senior Member

    Skoyen89
    Thanks for the response, it's making me wonder if they set up these hospitals expecting a lot of casualties from the initial DDay landings.

    Then reduced closed them when it was apparent that the casualties were not as expected.


    I know there is a memorial stone in a local park to the hospital, at some stage I will obtain a photo and post it
     
  19. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Stonefall Cemetery was used for air force burials,principally RCAF burials whose Bomber Command No 6 Group was based in North Yorkshire.

    Traced a RCAF casualty who was killed at Lindholme HCU,far to the south and was buried at Stonefall.I would think that the cemetery was used for RCAF casualties in the northern counties in addition to those from No 6 Group.
     
  20. Skoyen89

    Skoyen89 Senior Member

    Skoyen89
    Thanks for the response, it's making me wonder if they set up these hospitals expecting a lot of casualties from the initial DDay landings.

    Then reduced closed them when it was apparent that the casualties were not as expected.



    They set them up first to cater for illness and injuries from troops in the UK during the Bolero build-up and then in anticipation of casualties from the Normandy landing. They aimed to have 90,000 beds in the UK by the time of D-Day but in the event casualties were not as bad as they expected. The busiest time was November 1944 through to February 1945 when all the hospitals reached their peak of admissions brought about by Huertgen Forest, trenchfoot and the bad winter in Europe and then the Ardennes campaign.
    But I also think a factor was that these hospitals were some of the furthest from the South coast where most of the casualties were landed and in 1945 they were not so busy. Many 'fixed' hospitals moved to the Continent and set up in France or Belgium and then later Germany as the Allies advanced and these two did so in mid-1945.
    Great site at WW2 US Medical Research Centre :: Homepage
     

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