Campbell College, Belfast, Co. Down

Campbell College in East Belfast has a strong Second World War heritage having served as a military hospital from 1940 - 1944 and being bombed in May 1941.

Campbell College

Belmont Road

Belfast

Co. Down

BT4 2ND

United Kingdom

Henry James Campbell established Campbell College in East Belfast, Co. Down in 1894. He had made his fortune in the linen trade and set up the college as a boarding school. In the years preceding and during World War Two, the school had a varied history.

In 1935, Jimmy Steele led an Irish Republican Army Raid on the school building. The aim, to secure guns and ammunition held inside the Officers’ Training Corps. A gun battle took place between the IRA and Royal Ulster Constabulary at the gate lodge on Hawthornden Road. Constable Ian Hay received five bullet wounds but survived. Steele and three other members of his gang were captured and imprisoned in Crumlin Road Goal in 1936.

Campbell College Military Hospital

Imperial War Museum Photo: No 24 British General Hospital suffered extensive damage during the Belfast Blitz. The main building at Campbell College, Belfast was bombed killing nineteen people. This photo features in the book 'Bodies In Our Backyard' by Elaine McClure.

WW2 Military Hospital

During the Second World War, the War Office requisitioned Campbell College as a military hospital. In 1940, the college evacuated and boarders transferred to the seaside town of Portrush, Co. Antrim. At the same time, boys attending the school by day were moved to Cabin Hill, which had been the junior school.

It must record, in fact, a generation of boys at Cabin Hill and at Portrush who were Campbellians but knew not Campbell.

Campbell College Register 1952.

What were once changing rooms of the college’s successful sports teams became operating theatres. Baths and medical equipment took up classrooms and Nissen huts in the grounds served as wards. By October 1945, some 34,000 servicemen passed through the former school.

20 British General Hospital
This military hospital was based in Carrickfergus from September 1940 to November 1940. That November it moved to Campbell College in East Belfast, where it remained until January 1943. Later incarnations of 20 British General Hospital were based in Moira and Bangor, Co. Down.

24 British General Hospital
The longest standing military hospital at Campbell College, Belfast was No. 24 British General Hospital. It remained from August 1940 to April 1944.

25 British General Hospital
The No. 25 British General Hospital only operated for a couple of months at Campbell College. It remained from February 1944 to April 1944. Between 1940 and 1944 it operated in Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim, and Bangor, Co. Down.

31 British General Hospital
Another military hospital at Campbell was No. 31 British General Hospital. Between time at Hellingly and Hatfield, No. 31 operated at the Belfast school site from August 1940 to June 1942.

Campbell College Military Hospital

Imperial War Museum Photo: Severe damage caused to the Nissen hut wards at Campbell College Military Hospital, Belfast. The Luftwaffe attacked the No. 24 British General Hospital in May 1941. This photo features in the book 'Bodies In Our Backyard' by Elaine McClure.

The Belfast Blitz

On the night of 4th-5th May 1941, the German Luftwaffe bombed Belfast in The Fire Raid of the Belfast Blitz. At Campbell College, 19 people died including patients and medical staff. Most of the medical staff served with the Pioneer Corps or the Royal Army Medical Corps.

Herbert Montague Brooker

Private • 7364070

Herbert Montague Brooker died on 5th May 1941 when No. 24 British General Hospital at Cambell College, Belfast, Co. Down came under Luftwaffe attack.

Leonard Charles Christian

Private • 13058429

Private Leonard Charles Christian died on 5th May 1941 during The Fire Raid of the Belfast Blitz when bombs fell on No. 24 British General Hospital.

Leon Guglielmazzi

Corporal • 13058545

Leon Guglielmazzi died on 5th May 1941 during The Fire Raid of the Belfast Blitz as bombs fell on No. 24 British General Hospital, Belfast, Co. Down.

John Thomas Harris

Lance Corporal • 13058556

Lance Corporal John Thomas Harris of the Pioneer Corps died on 5th May 1941 as the Luftwaffe attacked No. 24 British General Hospital in Belfast, Co. Down.

Grave of Edward Valentine hemelryk

Edward Valentine Hemelryk

Major • 22423

Edward Valentine Hemelryk died on 5th May 1941 as No. 24 British General Hospital at Campbell College, Belfast, Co. Down came under Luftwaffe attack.

Felix Marasi

Private • 13058655

Pioneer Corps Private Felix Marasi died on 5th May 1941 aged 25 years old as Luftwaffe bombs fell on No. 24 British General Hospital, Belfast, Co. Down.

James Simon Moore

Private • 13058676

Private James Simon Moore of the Pioneer Corps died at No. 24 British General Hospital, Belfast, Co. Down as the Luftwaffe bombed the city on 5th May 1941.

Harry Norman Pickup

Lance Corporal • 13058709

Lance Corporal Harry Norman Pickup of Middlesex, England died in Belfast, Co. Down as Luftwaffe bombs fell on the city on the night of 4th-5th May 1941.

Norman Leslie Seaward

Staff Sergeant • 7343236

Staff Sergeant Norman Leslie Seaward served with the Royal Army Medical Corps when he died on 5th May 1941 during The Fire Raid of the Belfast Blitz.

Kenneth Lawrence Shaw

Private • 13058748

Private Kenneth Lawrence Shaw died on 5th May 1941 while serving with the Pioneer Corps at Campbell College, Belfast, Co. Down during The Fire Raid.

Archibald Herbert Sanderson Stewart

Sergeant • 7520135

Sergeant Archibald Herbert Sanderson Stewart of the Royal Army Medical Corps died on 5th May 1941 while working at No 24 British General Hospital, Co. Down.

Richard Fowler Ward

Major • 41352

Major Richard Fowler Ward died on 5th May 1941 as the Belfast Blitz bombs fell on No. 24 British General Hospital at Campbell College, Belfast, Co. Down.

Blitz damage at Campbell College

Imperial War Museum Photo: The Belfast Blitz of May 1941 devastated the No 24 British General Hospital at Campbell College, Belfast. The wards in the school grounds consisted mainly of Nissen huts. This photo features in the book 'Bodies In Our Backyard' by Elaine McClure.

Allied deaths at Campbell College

Axis deaths at Campbell College

Wilhelm Dalbeck

Oberkanonier • A438606

Oberkanonier or Private First Class Wilhelm Dalbeck served in the German Army and was a prisoner of war in Camp 172, Jackson Road, Holywood, Co. Down in 1945.

Wilhelm Jungclaus

Obergefreiter • A811180

Obergefreiter Wilhelm Jungclaus served in the German Navy during the Second World War and was taken prisoner. He was born in Germany on 28th June 1903.

August Kreinbring

Stabsgefreiter • B4246

Stabsgefreiter or Lance Corporal August Kreinbring served in the German Wehrmacht during the war. He was born in Bulzenow in Germany on 17th November 1915.

Rudolf Blume

Gefreiter • B4534

Gefreiter or Corporal Rudolf Blume served in the German Wehrmacht during the war. Born in Roßlau, he was brought to Northern Ireland as a prisoner of war.

Wilhelm Thoene

Gefreiter • B24399

Gefreiter Wilhelm Thoene served in the Wehrmacht, the Nazi military in World War Two. The rank of Gefrieter was comparable to a Lance Corporal in Britain.

Alfred Rinn

Oberfeldwebel • B71040

Oberfeldwebel or Sergeant Alfred Rinn served in the German Wehrmacht during the war. He fought with the Landesschützenzug 23, an infantry defence regiment.

Herbert Lisser

Obergefreiter • A58170

Herbert Lisser served as an Obergefreiter in the German Luftwaffe during WWII. He died of cardiac arrest caused by war wounds on 22nd March 1945 in Belfast.

Gerhard Geier

Unteroffizier • B19042

Unteroffizier Gerhard Geier served in the Luftwaffe in World War Two. He died at Campbell College Military Hospital, Belfast, Co. Antrim on 25th March 1945.

Back to School

The Belmont campus without the Netherleigh site returned to civilian use in February 1946. The last of the Nissen Huts remained standing until 2001. Cabin Hill, the college’s junior school, which housed students during the war, closed in 2006.

Famous past pupils of the school include the author CS Lewis who attended for only a few months. Royal Air Force Squadron Leader Terence Malcolm Bulloch was also an ex-Cambellian. He served as Piper Sergeant Major in the Officer Training Corps and excelled at rugby union during his time at the school. One final noteworthy past pupil is William John English, awarded the Victoria Cross. He served with the Royal Ulster Rifles during World War Two.

The years of the Second World War are detailed in ‘The Campbell College War Record 1939-1945’. This one-volume piece, compiled by CR Beavan and Colonel WD Gibbon runs to 59 pages containing records of those who died during World War Two. The book, published in 1946, also lists the honours and awards of past members and shows portrait photos of each man.

The wartime events at Campbell College also lived long in the memory of Albert Maxwell BEM. He worked as the groundsman and head porter for 64 years, only retiring in 1993. He lived in the B1 listed gate lodge until his death in 1997.

The school’s War Memorial stands on its original site in the school’s grand hall. The unveiling took place in 1950. The rectangular bronze plaque on wooden paneling lists those killed during both World Wars. The ornate stonework pillars and carved school coat of arms is a design by ex-Campbellian Captain James R Young. One hundred and two names are listed having served and died in the Second World War.

My sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage. My courage and skill to him that can get it. My marks and scabs I carry with me. – Second World War (1939-1945).

Inscription on Campbell College War Memorial.

The Latin motto of Campbell College, which received a Royal Charter from Her Majesty The Queen in June 1951, is “Ne Obliviscaris” – Do not forget.

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