News Sunday, February 7th

Camp tales: How the Americans came to Kington

76 years ago, Kington Camp housed exhausted, battle worn British battalions who had returned from Dunkirk.

It was the site of two vast US military hospitals, where GIs, wounded in the frozen battlefields of the Ardennes and the Battle of the Bulge, were cared for. It was a resettlement base for Polish military units, who, having fought for Europe’s freedom, found their homeland occupied by the Soviet Union. It was a refuge for hundreds of people who found themselves displaced in the post war period.

Next month, historian Mari Fforde will give a talk on the history of Herefordshire's Kington Camp, revealing how the now crumbling remains of the concrete and brick huts on the Hergest Road, served as a vital home to huge numbers of British, Polish and American troops during the war.

Get tickets to Mari's talk on Kington Camp

Two years ago previously unpublished film footage of Kington in 1945 was discovered. In full colour, it gives us a glimpse of the Kington Camp military hospital on VE Day, as well as the US troops who stayed there.

It was an American soldier called Corporal Clarke Morgan, posted to the 107th Hospital in Kington in 1944, who took the remarkable footage, which also shows a bus ride to Hereford for VE Day celebrations, troops packing up to leave and boarding the Queen Mary for their return to New York.

The film even captures their arrival in New York Harbour, the Statue of Liberty standing proud. Described by a senior curator at the Imperial War Museum as "the stuff of dreams", the footage now forms part of their collection where it can be digitised and stored.

And it is stories like that Fforde's will focus on when she gives her talk, The Story of Kington Camp – How the Americans came to Kington, at Huntington Village Hall on March 19.

Get tickets to the talk here.

With thanks to event organiser Jane Moyle

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