Musgrave Park Hospital off Stockman's Lane, Belfast is a specialist hospital for orthopaedics, rheumatology, and sports rehabilitation. The hospital opened in 1920 and took its name from the nearby sprawling parklands. During the early years of the Second World War, the hospital fell under the military command of No. 31 (London) General Hospital. Colonel Angus Hedley-White commanded British operations at the site.
On 21st May 1942, 5th (Harvard) General Hospital, U.S. Army (V Corps), under Chief of Surgery Colonel Thomas Lanman took over the use of Musgrave Park Hospital. With the arrival of the American military, No. 31 (London) General Hospital relocated to the nearby Balmoral Protestant Male Industrial School.
Military Ophthalmic Centre
On 19th January 1942, Lieutenant J.R. Bainbridge photographed procedures underway at the Military Ophthalmic Centre at No. 31 (London) General Hospital based at Musgrave Park Hospital, Belfast.
U.S. Army at Musgrave Park Hospital
5th (Harvard) General Hospital had activated at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, United States of America on 3rd January 1942. On 19th February 1942, 7 Medical Officers, 28 Nurse Officers, and 14 enlisted soldiers set off on various ships in a convoy bound for Northern Ireland. Among the Medical Officers was Lieutenant Colonel Ted Badger who would become Chief of Medicine at Musgrave Park Hospital. On their arrival in Ulster, the medics joined 10th Station Hospital and 136th Medical Regiment attached to 34th Infantry Division.
The remaining medical staff was on board the vessel American Legion. It broke down in the Atlantic Ocean and subsequently returned to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. On 12th May 1942, this main body of the U.S. Army Hospital arrived in Northern Ireland. Later in 1942, Matron Bernice Sinclair arrived at Musgrave Park Hospital after a rough and slow journey from Stranraer, Scotland to Larne, Co. Antrim. With her came U.S. Army Nurses from New York’s Columbia Presbyterian’s 2nd General Hospital.
During the U.S. Army’s time at Musgrave Park Hospital, it also operated as General Supply Depot G-10-6 from 22nd November 1943. 5th (Harvard) General Hospital remained at Musgrave Park until 25th November 1942. In this time, records suggest 7,487 patients received treatment at the facility.
The U.S. Army erected Nissen Huts in the hospital grounds to offer up to 500 beds and extra facilities. Some of these remained until 2005. By 1945, however, the military use of Musgrave Park Hospital had come to an end. The site would soon become an Emergency Hospital as part of the new National Health Service. A military wing opened at the site in 1963.