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Information, photographs and history about the British Military Hospital in Hannover
BMH Hanover was one of several BAOR (British Army On The Rhine) army hospitals in Germany. It is now closed. The first Commanding Officer was Colonel Knight in 1951 whilst the last CO was Col Lynch from 1989 to 1992.
The book Sub Cruce Candida: A Celebration of One Hundred Years of Army Nursing has a photo of the model ward at BMH Hannover.
In 1990 BMH Hannover were mobilised as 32 Field Hospital to Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War (cited in the book Sub Cruce Candida: A Celebration of One Hundred Years of Army Nursing).
It closed on 30 June 1992 and a Close Down Parade was held.
Sadly none of the QARANC.co.uk team had a German posting and would love to expand this page with more details about the 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.
Qaranc.co.uk would like to thank former QA Stephanie Lowe for the first photograph of BMH Hannover, taken from a postcard. Stephanie has been kind enough to share her fun memories of BMH Hannover:
I had the great luck to be posted to BMH Hannover, BAOR 12, in 1955, and spent time there on the baby unit, in theatres, and out with a field hospital, and enjoyed every minute.
BMH Hannover was a vast modern hospital compared to the ancient British edifices, with wards for servicemen and their families, hence women's and children's wards. They were run as other military wards, except that we did no cleaning or 'bumping' because the German fraus came in each day for that. They also cleaned the nurses single rooms on the top floor of the main hospital block. These were well furnished with such luxuries as bedside lights and dressing tables! Heaven, after shared billets and severe austerity in the UK. Behind the main building was a drill ground and hall, for the many parades and dances. At one of these we met a Major General Richardson, RAMC, who was kind enough to write personally and congratulate us when we passed our finals.
We were hugely impressed with the double glazing, unheard of back home, and the quantity and quality of all hospital equipment, particularly instruments and capacious autoclaves. In theatres we had some German surgeons, and I remember that the talented German woman eye surgeon refused to don surgical gloves to operate.
All the things we now take for granted were new and exciting - Wiener Schnitzels and biergartens, tiergartens and tea dances, where young German men were forbidden to fraternise with us. Outdoor musicians, and department stores selling perlons (nylons) and lacy lingerie galore! Anything frivolous was still in short supply in blighty. The impressive Hannover Opera House always put on Die Fledermaus on New Years Eve, just as we have panto, and in the Hartz Mountains I realised that I would never master skiing.
On our days off we could have a car with a German driver for the day for sixpence, (2 1/2 pence) and go wherever we wanted. There were also bikes to borrow, and as soon as we arrived we booked one each and set off one beautiful afternoon. Traffic coming towards us on the road waved enthusiastically, as did the cars on what seemed to be a parallel road ( how very very odd to have two roads together) and so we waved back happily. It was only when the polizei flagged us down and escorted us off the road that we discovered not only what an autobahn was, and that bicycles were forbidden, but that we were riding on the wrong side. How dreadfully embarrassing. Alas, we became hopelessly lost, and eventually, drenched to the skin from a sudden storm, we were forced to spend the night in real cells in an isolated country police station, which had no plumbing whatsoever. We were collected by ambulance at dawn, and were in horrendous trouble with Matron! But as newbies we achieved instant fame. Stephanie Lowe Qaranc.
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29th British General Hospital
Qaranc.co.uk would like to thank Simon Craine for kind permission to display the following photographs of BMH Hannover just after World War II which were taken by his Grandad , George William Jarvis, who served in the 29th British General Hospital RAMC at Belsen before moving to BMH Hannover and eventually leaving the army in 1948.
More photos from the collection of Simon Craine and George William Jarvis can be found on the Belsen Concentration Camp page.
Below are photos from the collection of Lt. Jean Williams who was stationed at BMH Hannover in 1960:
The daughter of Lieutenant Jean Williams, Finola, recalls hearing of her mum's time in the QAs.
Inside her cape she has the badges for every regiment she nursed a soldier from, or at least the majority before running out of room. One of the badges is a Spearhead as worn by Elvis Presley during his service. She always maintained this was the actual Spearhead from Elvis' uniform, which he'd given her when she nursed him with a broken leg in Hanover. How true this is I don't know, and wouldn't know where to begin to find out if indeed he was ever in BMH Hanover around the time my mum was there.
A wonderful story surrounds the following photographs of BMH Hannover. They were found by Detlef Buschmann who lives near Hanover in Lower-Saxony, Germany. Detlef is a collector of old photo items and recently visited the Fleamarket in Hanover. There he found some old Agfa Bags for his collection. At home he saw that there were some old negatives inside. After a first look he decided to make some prints of them and recognised that they have been taken in the British Military Hospital in Hanover. At one photo you can see a calendar on the desk which could read either 1961 or 1969. Detlef talked later with the seller from whom he bought the negatives and was told that he found them at a flat removal sale. If you can add to their history please contact Qaranc.co.uk
We wonder if the first two photographs could be of the Commanding Officer of BMH Hanover, thought to be Colonel Humphreys from 1964 to 1966:
Here are photos of a Humber car:
This photo shows the British Military Hospital Hannover sign for Officer Commanding, Administrative Officer, Quartermaster, Company Officer and RSM pointing to the left. The right arrows point to Reception, Out Patients, Visitors, Physiotherapy Department, Dental Dept and Chem-U-stelle IWBII.
This image appears to be a group of nurses with a British Army Corporal sitting at the head of the table:
A photo taken in 1972 at BMH Hannover and used as part of a recruitment campaign can be viewed on the Army Recruitment Posters page.
We were pleased to hear from Eddie who we think was the first baby to be born at BMH Hannover:
During my Family History research I found I was born on the 24th of July 1947 in BMH Hannover, my mother and her husband (a gunner in the Royal Artillery at nearby Fallingbostel).By 1949 we were back in Epsom Surrey where my Brother was born. History repeated itself as my son was born in BMH Iserlohn in 1969 whilst I was stationed in West Riding Barracks, Dortmund. Edward Neave
At ten weeks:
Eddie and his wife recently went to the Hannover and Fallingbostel area for a holiday:
We found the Hospital with the luxury flats and met a local German lady who spoke very good English and offered to show us around. She and her mum were very grateful to my dad and the other British Serviceman who arrived in the area before the Russians did. (It was very humbling to talk to her). We also discovered a stone plaque with a tree dedicated to the Queen’s Coronation in 1953.
The Lady we met nearly bought one of these flats but said that they decided not to because they were only allocated 1 parking space and the trees overhung the balcony at the front with no view (The trees have certainly grown from the original photo).
A couple of days later we managed to travel up to Bad Fallingbostel and had an interesting tour from the local taxi driver who could speak good English. The last of the British Troops are due to move out in August 2015 and apparently the British Military have just refurbished all the barracks and family accommodation costing millions. They will be used to rehouse all the many refugees that Germany has living on the streets. There is one history aspect, from all these Displaced Persons coming into the area (mainly Jews) they were eventually to go to the newly formed Israel.
Pictured is Catherine Booth in the winter of 1976. She worked on the family’s ward and theatres. She left when she met her husband who was posted to a barracks in Celle.
Cathy recalls: It was well run by the army and the QA’s were a very professional team and although there was rank structures we had the respect that nurses have for each other and we were in awe of our nursing sister, not because she may be a captain or major, but she was the ward sister. I qualified as an SEN with the GNC of England sat in a classroom in Hannover.
Cathy served in the QARANC from 1974 to 1978 and pictured below she is at the QATC Aldershot. Her first posting was Tidworth and then geriatrics at Newbridge.
I was the first baby to be born in British Military Hospital Hannover on the winter of 1947. They were unprepared for births and I was given sugared water in the absence of milk powder. Mum had a heart condition and advised not to breast feed me. Apparently if I was born a few days earlier I would have been in the German hospital across the road and liable for German National Service when I was old enough. I still have my birth document from the hospital. We moved to Osnabruck shortly after (dad was in the Royal Engineers).
Geoff Nelder www.geoffnelder.com
I served as an RAMC nurse National Serviceman from September 1954 to August 1956. Like Stephanie Low I was also posted to BMH Hannover in August 1955 having been 6 months in BMH Klagenfurt Austria and then transferred to Hamburg when the Austrian Peace treaty was signed in the spring/summer of 1955.
On leaving school after A levels, I started basic training at the RAMC depot at Crookham Barracks near Fleet Hampshire. I was the sent for "Trade training" as a Special Treatment Orderly,at the ST clinic at Netley, Southampton. The Clinic there was in a single story complex in the grounds of the Old Royal Victoria Hospital, as noted in your description of this BMH.
As an other rank, our barrack room was in one of the old Victorian Wards (approximately 20 Beds) with an ablution room/baths and toilets at the end of the ward. I arrived there on New Years Eve 1954. As I remember it was freezing cold and the only heat in the room was an open coal fire at the door end of the room. As the newest recruit I was given a bed at the other end, the coldest end of the room!!!
I had always been interested in drama especially stage management at school and I got very interested in the social side of life at Hannover. We had a very large gymnasium and hall, between the main block and the other ranks accommodation block where I can remember at least two special events happened in 1955. We had a grand dance and party for all ranks on the occasion of St. Patrick's Day when we decorated the whole place in green and gold. Everybody from the CO and his wife down to the lowest rank who was not on duty were present. The QARANC nurses being in the minority along with several of the officers and NCO's wives were much in demand as dance partners. The hospital cooks both Army Catering Corps and German civilian chefs provided a sumptuous buffet.
The second occasion was at the time of a visit from the band of the RAMC. On the Saturday night we held another grand "do" and decorated the whole gym in blue, red and gold of the RAMC colour. Again a splendid buffet and bar was provided by the Sergeants mess next door.
I have never had any contact with anyone else stationed at any of the above BMH's since I was demobbed and went to Durham University to take a degree in Physics and Chemistry graduating in 1959 and then worked in the Chemical industry for the next 32 years. Dennis Read
See the newspaper clipping about Midwife Captain Margaret Hair QARANC.
The address for directions is Gehägestraße, 30655 Hannover (this address on google maps takes you straight there). It is a very pleasant 15 minute walk from Spannhagengarten station on the utrans stadtbahn (lines 3, 7 and 9) all direct from Hauptbahnhoff. (Main station). The hospital is now converted to flats, but is essentially the same as the old photos. There is one private medical centre in the old hospital building, a midwifery practice, perhaps they use the old maternity area?
Major Samuel Lesser
The daughter of a RAMC Surgeon, Major Samuel Lesser, who served at 29 Hannover British Military Hospital BOAR from October 1945 to January 1948 is seeking to hear any information about her father. He performed general surgery and also specialised in Ophthalmic surgery at this hospital. He was also in Berlin during that period. If you can help please contact Qaranc.co.uk
Thanks for some memories off the website. I was a civilian engineer with Property Services Agency at the Area Works Office in Langenhagen Barracks from 1982 to 1989.The hospital is particularly memorable for us because our younger daughter Jessica was born there in 1987. Her second name is Louise, after the midwife who was presumably a QARANC. We have nothing but happy memories. John and Julie Butcher.
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