Saturday 11th October
Can any listeners out there help this lady in America whose father was posted in the 203rd General Hospital here in Swindon in WW2?
Back in May of this year I wrote a post about the Arts Centre here in Swindon. In this post I wrote this:
Swindon Web carry a great article in their Swindon History section about the presence of American Servicemen in and around Swindon during the war. It’s a really interesting article which I urge you to read so I won’t quote it verbatim but will just share this snippet of information about the military unit, the 203rd General Hospital which was set up to tend to casualties of the second world war Normandy campaign: “Its staff of more than 600 stopped off in Swindon for a month in the run-up to D-Day (June 6, 1944), and their written memories, which were first published in print in the 1990s but are now partly available online, paint a vivid picture, from an American perspective, of life in Britain during the war … While personnel were dispersed to their billets, an administrative headquarters was set up at 25 High Street (which no longer exists). But the Bradford Hall in Devizes Road – then a dance hall and destined to become Swindon Arts Centre in 1956 – became the staff’s main focus, particularly as three tents were erected as a temporary mess, on land behind the hall.’
As a result of this blog post I have, this week, received an e-mail from a lady in the USA:
“Hello, and thank you for your mention in May of the 203rd General Hospital unit, on your Swindon blog about the Arts Center. Graham Carter contacted me when writing about the unit in his Swindon web piece, after seeing the 203rd website I posted–it was my father’s WW2 unit. Graham wrote about the fact that unit members were housed with local inhabitants, and I always wondered if anyone who hosted them had read the article, and subsequently shared any memories of those times. Never saw any follow-up. Any chance that you would have heard anything about that?
Thanks again for your piece, Lois”
And the magic of Google – Lois was searching for mentions of 203rd General Hospital and my original blog post came up in the results. Cool.