Tyntesfield’s wartime tales
IN 1943, American soldiers descended on North Somerset as part of the war effort, bringing with them luxury items, Coca Cola, nylon stockings and swing music.
Also with their blend of brashness and charm, as well as left-hand-drive lorries and Jeeps, they came to the UK to prepare to join the major force which would invade France in June, 1944.
Now, a new book tells the story of how Wraxall’s Tyntesfield estate became an integral part of the Americans’ preparation, with it used for a transit camp for as many as 1,500 soldiers stopping off on their way to fight in Europe, as well as a military hospital.
Written by Michael Boyce, the book, entitled Tyntesfield in WWII, also tells the tale of how the buildings created by the Americans were later used as housing after they left.
Michael, aged 76 of Coalpit Heath in South Gloucestershire, said: “I was born and lived in Stapleton and I can remember Frenchay Hospital being used by the Americans during the war.
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“I would hear the ambulances taking the wounded from the railway line to the hospital.
“I decided to research Tyntesfield’s involvement and ended up with enough for a book.”
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Between 1943-44, many American training camps sprung up around Bristol, with more than 20 in North Somerset alone, inevitably leading to many servicemen returning injured from their training.
As a result, the Americans needed many hospitals to care for their casualties and the Tyntesfield estate proved to be an ideal location.
In 1942, builders had previously moved on to a piece of quiet pasture land at the estate and from November 1943 to May 1944, the 56th General Hospital cared for the wounded and sick soldiers, later replaced by the 74th General Hospital which stayed at the site until 1945.
By the autumn of 1944, most of the American camps had been abandoned, with the soldiers having moved on to fight in mainland Europe, and by the end of June 1945, the hospital had also been abandoned after the 74th left to set up a hospital in France.
After all the Americans had moved on, the local authority was desperately in need of accommodation for many homeless civilians and soldiers returning from fighting.
As a result, it converted the redundant hospital buildings into self-contained dwellings, creating ‘Tyntesfield Village’. However, in 1960, this was also abandoned and the land returned to its former use.
Featuring more than 100 photos from the time, as well as the memories of American soldiers, the local women who helped at the hospital and those who moved in to Tyntesfield Village, Tyntesfield in WWII is available to buy at Tyntesfield.
It can also be bought from Michael who can be contacted on 01454 778801 or emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org