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Information and history about the British Military Hospital in Iserlohn Germany which was formerly Argonne Barracks:
BMH Iserlohn was one of several BAOR (British Army Of The Rhine) army hospitals in Germany. It closed in March 1994. BMH Iserlohn was housed in Argonne Barracks which was a German Calvary and Armoured Regiment building from the 1930s. In the post World War Two years Argonne Barracks became No 6 British General Hospital in 1946. From 1978 to 1993 it was NATO 31 Field Hospital in support of 1 (BR) Corps. It was refurbished in 1985, during which time staff worked at Munster. It reopened in 1991 as a 200 bedded hospital when BMH Munster closed. When the 3rd Armoured Division returned to the UK as part of the drawdown of the Cold War it closed and patients were treated at nearby BMH Rinteln and RAF Wegberg.
My thanks to Sue Light at Scarlet Finders for the photograph above of BMHIserlohn which was taken in the winter of 1974.
This stainless steel picture of BMH Iserlohn was given as leaving gifts. Images courtesy of the late Col Bryan Wilkinson.
It depicts various views of the building, the QARANC, RAMC and RADC cap badges along with support staff of the Army Catering Corps, Pay Corps, Royal Army Physical Training Corps and the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.
On the rear it says: “Dillcrest Ltd, 175 Penncricket Lane, Rowley Regis, Warley, West Midlands, England, B65 0RJ
The ones issued in 1992 has a sticker for Quail Marketing Ltd, 4 Irish Place, Gibraltar as the manufacturer. We have also learned that they were given out in 1985 prior to the refurbishment.
If anyone can help with any information about the plaque then please contact us.
QA Nurses From BMH Iserlohn
The first junior ranks of the newly formed QARANC to receive an overseas posting were posted to BMH Iserlohn in 1951. The Regiment in the area at this time were the 1st Battalion The Queen's Royal Regiment (cited in the book Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps (Famous Regts. S) by Juliet Piggott).
Vol 13 No 9 of The Gazette of the QA Association has a photo of these nurses from the collection of Private Vaughnie Berry. The back of the photograph names the other first ranks as Mary, Celda, Dot, Irene, Joan, Glen, Cary, Taffy Doreen, Norah and May. A newspaper clipping describes the nurses being met by a regimental band and marched to the hospital, where patients and staff waited to greet them. Later they paraded before Major-General Cameron, Director of Medical Services in BAOR who welcomed them to Germany on behalf of Rhine Army.
1st Battalion of the Queens Royal Regiment
The band was the 1st Battalion of the Queens Royal Regiment and the parade started at Dortmund Flughaven aistrip to march the detachment of QARANC to BMH Iserlohn.
Qaranc.co.uk were delighted to hear from Bryan Clayton, ex drummer 1st Queens Royal Regiment, who kindly passed on this wonderful photo of the parade with BMH Iserlohn in the background. Bryan is the drummer third from the left, front row.
The photograph below is of Dorothy Maat-Davey (nee Davey) wearing the No 2 dress uniform of the 1960s. She served in the QARANC at BMH Iserlohn in West Germany in 1962. She told me a funny story of when her boyfriend phoned the hospital to talk with her ward sister. Rather than call her by her proper surname he asked for her by her nickname which was Captain Twitty! Needless to say Dorothy got into a wee bit of trouble, but despite this error by her boyfriend she married him!
QA Angela Coote has fond memories of her time in Germany:
BMH Iserlohn was wonderful, there were still a few Canadians there and we enjoyed huge steaks and pancakes and maple syrup for breakfast. I made many lifelong friends there and met my husband there who was one of the walking wounded in the Rehab Unit. I have in recent years nursed QAs that served in Singapore during the Japanese Invasion. I recall we had a rude version of Corp Motto which had to do with crutch and candida but it escapes me now!
Read more of Angela's memories on the Cambridge Military Hospital page.
I have published a book which tells the story of The Grey Lady Ghost of the Cambridge Military Hospital which reveals her origins in the QAIMNS and where she meets a QA veteran of Afghanistan. She still walks her wards and tells her story by taking Scott Grey, a QARANC nurse, to the battlefields of World War One and beyond. This is the first in the series of Grey and Scarlet Novels by CG Buswell. Read the first chapter for free.
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If you have a memory of BMH Iserlohn or other time or place during your service in the QAs and would like it to appear at the QARANC website then please contact us and help keep the QA history accessible to our readers.
The following three photos of BMH Iserlohn are from the
collection of Jeanne (Penny) Hunter. She recalls:
These were taken at the BMH Iserlohn where I was posted to from Military Hospital Wheatley in 1953. I remained there until 1955. Having read an interesting article about Ambulance Trains, I thought the following may be of interest. During my tour in Germany there was a combined services exercise called Battle Royal in which we had to evacuate the hospital and the patients were transported to a train station and then on to an ambulance train. When everyone was on board the train left and went to Rintel where it stopped in a siding overnight, the next morning we returned to the BMH in Iserlohn. I think it was in 1954 and late in the year. It was quite an experience tending to patients needs on a moving train and I had the glorious task of cooking breakfast on a galley stove.!! Happy days.
Jeanne (Penny) Hunter 1952 -1955.
See more of Jeanne’s photos and read more of her memories on the QA Centre page and the Military Hospital Wheatley page.
In 1953, along with many others, I was doing my National Service with the BAOR. During the Autumn I suffered a shoulder injury while playing rugby. I was treated in BMH Iserlohn, where I remained for approximately 8 weeks. I am sure the doctor who looked after me was a Dr DOWSE. I was in hospital over the Christmas period and as a result I have retained my Christmas Menu. I was certainly well looked after and my treatment was excellent. Roy Young, Snainton, Scarborough.
The photo above is of the Children's and Maternity Ward of BMH Iserlohn taken in 1960. Pictured with the QARANC Nursing Sisters and RAMC personal are some German nursing staff. Please get in touch if you recognise any of the nurses.
At times patients were transferred to BMH Iserlohn by German Air Force helicopter. The photograph above shows one such German Air Force helicopter patient transfer to the BMH. The sports field at the British Military Hospital was used as the airfield and landing pad.
The picture above is the Eagle statue that was situated at the main gate of BMHIserlohn. It now stands in the grounds at the far end of the former ward blocks. BMH Iserlohn was situated on the site of a former German Kazerne (barracks), hence the magnificent Eagle relic. The photo below shows QA Carol Little standing below the Eagle and was taken by her friend Angela Coote.
Former QA Angela Coote has kindly sent these delightful collection of QA photos at BMH Iserlohn taken during the summer of 1971 and 72.The photographs include Pauline Martin, Carol Little, Rene Berwick and Walter Holden with Angela Coote. The BMH Iserlohn Naafi, the Rehab unit and the gate to the QA billets can be seen in the pictures:
The following photos are from Christine Eden (nee Lennox). The first is of the Iserlohn Eagle:
The photograph below is the BMH Iserlohn team taking part in the Nijmegen March in July 1972. The only name Christine can remember is Paddy. If you can help with the other names of the group or wish to get in touch with Christine please contact us.
The Nijmegen March takes place over four days each July and was initially for worldwide military teams to encourage sport and exercise, though nowadays many civilians take part in the marches. Marchers will typically cover between 30 to 50km each day.
Below is the RAMC flag of BMH Iserlohn:
The three photos below were kindly provided by John who served in the 1st Royal Tank Regiment (1RTR) at Osnabruck and at Minden with 658 Squadron Army Air Corps (AAC) in the early 1970's. The buildings in the background were long low buildings that accommodated service personnel whist having rehabilitation treatment at BMH Iserlohn. In the 1950s they were used by the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC):
I recently came across your interesting web site that brought back many memories of my service with the QARANC during the period 1961 - 63. I served at BMH Iserlohn 1962-63 where I met and subsequently married a Canadian Military Policeman. Our eldest girl was born at BMH Iserlohn and I fondly recall that one of my former QA mates was the assistant nurse during the birth of my daughter. I have resided in Canada since 1964 and visit the UK frequently.
These photos were taken at BMH in 1963 and show my former best mate, Rita Henderson from Scotland, along with two other QA's whose names I can not recall. I am the blond girl (Margaret Warren) looking over the top of the sign. I would enjoy hearing from any of my former QARANC mates. Margaret (nee Warren) Pittman
Margaret’s husband, Mel, runs the website for the Canadian Provost Corps Association (former service police of the Canadian Army) at canadianprovostcorps.ca
In the 1950s the NAAFI was shared by nearby units and on the 14 Field Ambulance Royal Army Medical Corps page Peter recalls meeting QAs and attending dances.
BMH Iserlohn was shared with Canadian Forces until 1970.
Between 1978 and 1993 BMH Iserlohn had the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) role of 31 Field Hospital in support of 1 (BR) Corps.
In 1985 BMH Iserlohn closed for six years and the building was refurbished and then opened as a modern hospital for the British Army.
During the Gulf War of 1990 to 1991 staff at BMH Iserlohn worked alongside the staff of local German hospitals and Bundeswehr (Federal Defence Force) medical staff. This was known as Operational Friendship.
On the 24 March 1994 BMH Iserlohn closed after a flag lowering ceremony and presentation of a Fahnenband. Guests included General Artz Doktor Paul the senior Medical Officer in the Bundeswehr who presented the CO of BMH Iserlohn with the Fahnenband. The parade was led by Captain R N Wilson of the RAMC. Brigadier C G Callow L/RAMC the Commander Medical BAOR performed the inspection accompanied by Commanding Officer Colonel Tinsley. Padre Peter Clements performed the service of dedication, address and presentation.
The three flags of the Army Medical Services (AMS), QARANC, RAMC and RADC, were lowered by representatives of each Corps as The Last Post was played. This included Sergeant Sandy Stewart of the RAMC. Lt Sue Whitehead QARANC led the march past of the QARANC Platoon.
Here are some newspaper clippings from German papers about the event along with an English translation. These include photos of the parade and staff.
Iserlohner Rundschau 25 March 94.
Iserlohner Kreisanzeiger Argus 25 March 1994.
Iserlohner Kreisanzeiger 25 March 94.
Presentation Donation Bethanien Hospital.
Terry Hissey recalls performing in the RAMC Band at the Drawdown Parade:
“The news that the AMS Band was going to BMH Iserlohn for annual camp in 1994 was greeted with acclaim by all. The previous year’s camp with 257 General Hospital at Chester had been a disaster with just ten members making the effort to attend. For me it was my first camp and I really didn’t know what to expect. Barrack room inspections, early morning runs etc. We drove by coach from Chelsea to Iserlohn and on arrival set up our band equipment, such as music stands and percussion, at the end of the gymnasium. This was where the closedown ceremony was to take place and so seemed a good place to rehearse. For accommodation we were given single rooms that had previously been given to doctors and Musn Eddie Brown remarked. “This is the best accommodation I’ve had in the 40 years I’ve been in the Army!” Fortunately the room inspections did not emerge.
For entertainment, we simply had to make our own as the venue had very little to offer mainly as there was so few staff left. This set the scene for what I was to discover at many subsequent Band camps! There was an ice ring and lots of bars nearby stocking the Iserlohner pilsener, a good beer. We played at a couple of retirement homes and one of them has a story which I can’t repeat here, but anyone who was there will tell you it. We gave a families concert which went down very well and a cheque for DM 1,000 was presented to a local doctor for the purchase of a Baby emergency ambulance. I recall that we got all the children out the front and gave them percussion instruments to play during Duncan Beat’s ‘Cha Cha Cha for Children’. They seemed to enjoy themselves. LCpl Jan Meagan’s performance on the post horn was superb too.
The draw down ceremony was good for the Band as we sat down throughout the indoor proceedings if nothing else. Sgt Russell Stannard sounded the Last Post as the three AMS flags were lowered. The presentation of the Fahnenband, a civil honour, by General Dr Artz Paul in recognition of the Hospital’s service was a special moment. It is now at the AMS Museum at Ash Vale. What did surprise me was the amount of guests who attended: there must have been more than those on parade, o well that was how the Army did things in them days?
Overall it was certainly a new experience and one I was glad to take part in. I had turned down a performance in front of the Queen in order to be there, however, I thought at the time I would get the chance to do that in the Army one day….I’m still waiting! Musically I learnt a lot, but being the youngest in the Band at 19, I was bored most of the time as I lacked a peer group and learnt to always bring lots of reading material to future annual camps.”
My mother was a QA in the 1960's. I am writing in particular to the page on BMH Iserlohn and wanted to add a bit more information on the closure of the BMH in 1994. Unknown by many people, when the flag was lowered on 24 March 1994 that was only the "official" closure. My father, Major Clive Mullen (RAMC), became the Quartermaster of the BMH in November 1991 (came from having closed BMH Berlin) and in March 1994 he was then given the task of de-commissioning the hospital which was then to be finally handed over to the Germans in October 1994. To say the least, he was the last one out. My father and his team worked hard to distribute all the hospital equipment in those six months - a lot of it was very new as the hospital had had an update a few years before it was subsequently closed. It was a sad day when my father handed the keys over to the Germans. It was by no means an easy feat.
The ones that were left behind to do the "non-official" closing of the hospital worked hard. My father has been in the Army for over forty years, from a young private in the RAMC (he met my mother whilst they were both stationed at the military hospital in Colchester) to a Major. Michelle.
This is a little piece of information about Iserlohn, - you state on the web page that the regiment in Iserlohn in 1950 was the 1st Battalion, the Queens Royal Regiment, and they were - but also there, in Epsom Barracks, was the 10th Royal Hussars (Prince of Wales Own). I think they had gone to Iserlohn around 1947 and 1948 and my late Father joined the regiment as Bandmaster in late 1949 after graduating from Kneller Hall. We joined him on 19th December of that year and were in Iserlohn until mid 1953, when the regiment was posted to Tidworth.
The regiment was then posted to Aqaba, Jordan in February 1956 and we were one of the families that went. There was a small hospital there, I'm pretty sure it was a military hospital, my brother had to go there after a nail pierced his leg when he was playing with other children. I remember we all went in a jeep and drove through the village to get to the hospital, where my brother was treated. In later years the regiment was amalgamated with the 11th Hussars, and now I think the regiment is called The Royal Hussars. Diane Kerwin
Sadly none of the QARANC.co.uk team had a German posting and would love to expand this page with more details about this former army hospital and include a photograph. If you are a former or serving member of the Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps we would love your help.
If you would like to contribute any info, photographs or share your memories of BMH Iserlohn then please contact me.
Below are some memories of serving or being nursed at BMH Iserlohn:
Hello, I just found your fascinating web site. My father was Major Alexander Cumming, RCAMC (Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps), who served at BMH Iserlohn from 1958 to 1962. I was 5 to 10 years old at the time, but still remember much of it. There is mention by Major Munroe of "The Mikado". My father played a role in "HMS Pinafore" the previous year, then directed The Mikado, and The Pirates of Penzance the following year. After returning to Canada in 1962 the family spent a year in Vancouver while Dad did a residency at Vancouver General Hospital, then moved to the naval base HMCS Naden near Victoria, BC, where he became the Base Surgeon.
Neil A. Cumming
Hello I am an ex Sgt GR Munroe RCAMC (Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps) here - just discovered your website (BMH Iserlohn) and was amazed and delighted to see the pics and information. I was (X-Ray Tech) - worked for Col Fava and Lt Col Guthrie (Cdn) back in 1961 - 1962, and have a lot of fond memories for the old place. I still have a copy of the program for "The Mikado" which was organized by a number of the British and Canadian units in the area. My buddy Sgt 'Dusty' Miller and I did the scenery and props in the old Engineer shed (no heat - early spring) for two weeks - armed with a jug of Bacardi's. Usually wound up the evening singing our bawdy version of the Mikado's lyrics...? Can't believe the scenery turned out as well as it did! The play was booked for five nights at the Soldatenheim but was so popular they had to extend it for a few more nights. Great talent!
Another pleasant surprise was the picture of the Maternity ward staff in 1960. My oldest daughter Janet (she hates that), was born there on 3 Jan 1960. My other daughter Linda was born there the following year. I Emailed them the picture and text and got quite a reaction! The staff must have made quite an impression on them - they are both in the medical field - Janet is Radiologist at the Medical College of Georgia, and Linda is Lab Manager in British Columbia. Thank you BMH Iserlohn gang for looking after my wife and daughters. If I could, I would treat you all at the Zum Baren (more memories).
Anyways - for those who are still with us from that era, good health, many thanks and all the best for the future. It was good while it lasted! Yes, and pass along all my best wishes to a great crew. Also I wonder if anyone remembers (late 50s early 60s) Dennis Harwood. He was a transfer from RAMC (RadTech) to RCAMC and was Lt Admin officer in 1 CBMU. He was a major when he passed away a few years ago in Barrie, Ontario. Also, when I was working in a small hospital in Ontario I met a doctor, Ian Irvine, who was, in addition to being a Scot, a medic (RAMC), and had just left Korea before I arrived, then a RadTech in BMH Iserlohn (late 50s), but had just left before I got there, then got his MD and moved to Canada where we finally collided.
Anyway - nice to jog the memory banks. Thanks for the reply and talk to you again. Jerry Munroe
I was also at BMH Iserlohn but as one of the `odd balls’ during the period 1968 to1972.I was one of the REME guys that looked after all of the Med Equipment. There were only two of us – Firstly Nigel Lawson and myself and then myself and John Lockey. I was there when the hospital was half Canadian before they moved to Lahr. I remember several incidents that we saw from a slightly different view than the medical staff. I can’t remember many names from that time but would love to hear from anyone that remembers me – or the workshop in the cellar near the QM stores. They were good times with fond memories. I lived for some time in the Sgts Mess which was located above the QARANC quarters with the lift running at the end of the block. I got demobbed and went to work for a German X Ray company in Bavaria. I used to live in one of the married quarters in Holbein strasse. John Langdon
The BMH Iserlohn later became an International Business School and then a Campus Garden Hotel (a business and conference hotel). More information can be found about the history of the town of Iserlohn at
www.iserlohn.de/englisch/town_history/townhistory5.php and at
Forces War Records
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If you would like to contribute to this page, suggest changes or inclusions to this website or would like to send me a photograph then please e-mail me.
Official QARANC webpage.
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In The Company of Nurses Book.
The Grey Lady Ghost of the Cambridge Military Hospital Novel - a Book by CG Buswell
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