At the entrance to Valley Gardens is perhaps an often-overlooked plaque erected by officers and nurses of the 116th US Field Hospital.
The field hospital was opposite the current Army Foundation College, and remains of the build are still visible to this day. It manned by offices and nurses of the United States Army during the Second World War.
On Friday, 13 November, Captain Nick Smith laid a wreath at the plaque in honour of those that had served.
Colonel Johnson, was in charge of the 116th US Field Hospital and a Surgeon, he commissioned this plaque in July 1944.
In 1945 he was redeployed to Germany before the end of the war. He and his driver got a call to rescue a German farmer trapped in his own machinery.
A few minutes later they hit a German landmine, and both were severely injured.
Captain Nick Smith met with Colonel Johnson’s son in Harrogate and showed him the plaque and where the field hospital had been sited.
The son of Colonel Johnson, Malcolm Johnson Tucson, Az USA, said:
I was later told my father was in severe pain and that he knew there was no cure to his back and took his own life a couple years later when I was only 5 years old.
I have wanted to find this plaque for all my adult life.
Nick Smith met me off the train with a big smile on his face.
We located this plaque and Nick took this photo of me touching my father’s plaque.
We found the remnants of 116th Field Hospital opposite what is now the Army Apprentice College and I walked on the foundation of his temporary hospital.
We went to the World War II cemetery and all the airmen’s graves from the time period my Father performed numerous surgeries every day. I knew while he saved many airmen’s lives, some of the graves were of those he probably touched and tried to save.
It’s hard to describe the feelings I had when I first touched this plaque. I felt a stronger connection to him than ever before.
I spent less than 3 hours with Nick but knew I would never have seen so much of my Father’s past without his assistance.
Nick showed me Hales Bar. He told me he was sure my Father frequented it. Sitting in the pub having a pint after Nick left, I knew he was right.
Colonel Johnson is buried in the cemetery at Paris, Texas.