WWII: 118th General Hospital

118th General Hospital (U.S. Army)

NOTE: see comments! This shot is apparently not the Herne Bay location but Leyte in the Philipines!

Another gem from my late Aunt Mary’s stunning photo collection, much of which consists of hundreds (or thousands) of loose photographs in envelopes and boxes. The original of this is only a little bigger than a credit card. To find out where this is, all I had to do was google “118th General Hospital“—thank God for the Internet age—and it turns out to be where she spent most of her four years in the Pacific:

The 118th General Hospital was a U.S. Army military hospital built in 1942 at Herne Bay, New South Wales. This was the largest military hospital in Australia during World War II. It was planned as a hospital centre of five hospitals consisting of 490 timber barracks-type buildings, which could house a total of 4,250 beds and accommodate up to 1,250 patients and 3,500 staff. The hospital was formed by doctors and nurses from the Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. The hospital staff arrived in Sydney during June 1942 and ran a 400-bed hospital from August 1942, with a section at the Hydro Majestic Hotel at Medlow Bath.

Mrs Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of the US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, visited the 118 General Hospital on 8 September 1943.

Great atmospherics on this shot. I’ll be posting more of these over the next few days and weeks. I’ve got some really wild ones.

  • christian ienni November 18, 2013, 3:53 PM

    looking forward to more of these, they are so evocative! but more than just posting them here, you should do some kind of art project or show or something with them. the whole faded, damaged, dreamy quality of these is amazing, like postcards from a long gone parallel universe (which i suppose in a sense is exactly what they are).

    • JHF November 18, 2013, 4:19 PM

      You’re right about the project. A book, perhaps. I have such an amazing stash of artifacts.

  • Mary March 3, 2014, 8:28 PM

    my mother was in the 118th, they served in Australia, New Guinea, and, finally, Leyte, The Phillippines – they were the last hospital unit to be decommissioned – Brian Madden wrote a book about the hospital in Sydney called Hernia Bay (the hospital was located in a place called Herne Bay)

    • JHF March 3, 2014, 9:01 PM

      Hi, Mary! Thanks for filling in some of the details. I think I have that book, actually, along with more things about the 118th (including what must be thousands of black-and-white photos), all from my Aunt Mary’s house in Maine. I guess it was inevitable in the days of Google that others with connections to that unit would show up on these pages. I hope you enjoyed this!

  • Daniel May 11, 2015, 6:43 PM

    Great photo, but I’m not sure this was taken in Herne Bay. I live close to the site, which is now the suburb of Riverwood, and I am not aware of such an abundance of palm trees, as visible in the photo. The image looks like it was taken in the tropics somewhere.

    Of course, I could be wrong.

    • JHF May 11, 2015, 10:04 PM

      Hi Daniel! Well, I’m no expert. I do have a ton of material I inherited from my aunt about her experiences as a U.S. Army nurse in this hospital that I haven’t completely examined, and the answer is undoubtedly contained within. But the Wikipedia reference is quite explicit about the Sydney location. Maybe the palm trees were all cut down?

      • Daniel May 11, 2015, 10:34 PM

        Hi JHF,
        The area was predominately eucalypts, and mangroves. Not the usual location for palm trees. I came across this link (http://history.amedd.army.mil/ancwebsite/pictorial_hist.html) and a corresponding image which suggests the Philippines, as Mary mentioned above. That image looks similar to the one above.
        Nice site, btw.

        • JHF May 11, 2015, 11:34 PM

          Yes, you must be right. Mary’s comment above is what I should be looking at. The 118th was at Herne Bay but ended up in Leyte later.

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