Event for Friends of St. Thomas a Becket Church, Huntington Achieves Record Numbers

A record number of nearly 100 people crammed into Huntington Village Hall on Saturday, March 19th , to hear the historian, Mari Fforde regale the story of how the Americans came to Kington, ‘The Story of Kington Camp’.

Beforehand, Dr. Philip Cleland introduced her and produced a book, ‘Into Battle’, containing Sir Winston Churchill’s speeches from the beginning of the war.  This was inscribed in Churchill’s own hand-writing, to “Huntington Parish Hall, in memory of my brother-in-law, Bertram Romilly, Scots Guards.  Winston S. Churchill.  March 1941.”

Marie Fforde explained that after land on the Hergest Road was requisitioned in 1940, local people were surprised to find ‘a sea of canvas’ erected by the British Army.  Shortly after the tents appeared, survivors of the Dunkirk evacuation began to be unloaded in their hundreds at Kington’s railway station.  Their dishevelled appearance brought home to those who saw them, the reality of war.  So began the history of the Kington Camp.

After about two years the site was unoccupied, so work began on the construction of two major American military hospitals for survivors of ‘The Battle of the Bulge.’  The 107th and122nd hospitals were vast andcontained over 200 buildings and occupied a site a mile long and half a mile wide, covering almost 100 acres.  It is thought about 15,000 wounded were treated at Kington Camp between June 1944 and May 1945. 

Mari told of many human stories and the impact that the soldiers andthe 1,000 or so staff, had on the town.  It introduced local people to a different way of life, to new people, cultures and experiences. The evening ended with the first showing of a film sent to Mari Fforde by a surviving GI’s family, in which their relation filmed the Kington Camp in action, as well as VE Day in Hereford.  It is now lodged with the Imperial War Museum.  The Director of the IWM hails this as “the stuff of dreams.”

The whole evening was an unqualified success – with everyone enjoying free wine and delicious canapés, provided by Friends of St. Thomas a Becket, which continued long into the evening.


Jane Moyle – Trustee of FoSTaB