Life in ‘The Camp’ at Axminster detailed in new book

PUBLISHED: 07:02 11 October 2017

Dick Sturch's book about life in 'The Camp'. Picture DICK STURCH

Dick Sturch's book about life in 'The Camp'. Picture DICK STURCH


Dick Sturch recalls life in a Nissen hut on the newly vacated WW2 US Army military hospital at Millwey Rise

The huts and tents of the 315th Station Hospital where US Army D-Day casualties were trearted at Millwey Rise. Picture DICK STURCHThe huts and tents of the 315th Station Hospital where US Army D-Day casualties were trearted at Millwey Rise. Picture DICK STURCH

‘A deserted Army hospital - With space to roam and play.

That time so very long ago still seems like yesterday.

We found a hut like other folk - A dwelling of our own.

Squatters living on the “Camp”- For many years our home.’

Life in ‘The Camp’ at Millwey Rise, in Axminster, immediately after it was vacated as a World War Two US military hospital is detailed in a new book.

Dick Sturch recalls how, in 1947, his family moved into a Nissen hut as “squatters” together with many other families - all thankful to have a home of their own in a time of little housing and even less money.

His new home had been part of the US 315th Station Hospital built to receive their casualties from the Normandy landings in WW2.

After it was vacated many families took advantage of the empty hospital buildings to make a home for themselves.

Said Dick: “Our Nissen was an empty shell until my step-father divided it into three rooms with curtains. One for living and two bedrooms. There was no running water, toilet or electricity - the nearest toilet block was nearly 100 yards away.

“Its saving grace was a large combustion stove stood in the middle of the building to provide warmth, boil water and my favourite place to sit and brown my toast.

“We moved from there into a converted dwelling. A bit of a misnomer as my father did all the conversions including the electric wiring. This building had previously been the Hospitals administration office. Again no toilet or bathroom but dad did bring running water into the hut. After living there for four years we eventually moved into a Cornish Unit, one of the new Council houses that gradually replaced the old hospital huts to create what is now a thriving Millwey Rise.

“I have so many fond memories of my formative years on ‘The Camp’. It created a spirit of community. No one had much of anything but someone would always help out if there was a problem.”

* Dick, who lives in Honiton, left Millwey Rise in the early sixties but goes back most weeks to watch them play football as he was one of the founder club members in 1958.

‘The Camp (Millwey Rise) Rhymes of Life 1947-1952’ will be available from the Archway Bookshop in Axminster and Central Stores, Millwey Rise, under whose foundations are the remains of his old ‘converted dwelling’.

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