shipwrecks of Cork Harbour


 US Navy Base Hospital No 4

In Autumn 1918, World War One was drawing to a close. Europe was devastated, and the Allies prepared for victory. The massive industrial and military might of the United States had tipped the balance in their favour.

In Ireland, which at that time was still part of the United Kingdom, the seas were finally being controlled by the Royal Navy with the overwhelming support of the united Sates Navy.

Cork, on the south coast of Ireland, had become the hub of operations against the marauding u-boats in the western Atlantic. The British naval forces had been augmented with American destroyers, submarines, submarine chasers, naval aviation forces, and a battleship force.

In October 1918, a very conservative estimate of the numbers of US naval personnel in Cork alone, can be put at a staggering 9,013. This figure is based on average manning for:

23 Destroyers (2415)
2 Destroyer Tenders (721)
3 Battleships (2729)
30 Subchasers (780)
US Submarine Force, Berehaven (347)
USNAS Aghada (1500)
USNAS Whiddy (418)
USNAS Berehaven (103)

The presence of so many US personnel put the existing medical infrastructure in the Cork Harbour area under great strain. From the arrival of these forces in May 1917, healthcare facilities had been shared between the British Naval Hospital in Haulbowline and the local hospital in Queenstown (now Cobh Community Hospital).

Haulbowline Naval hospital
Haulbowline Naval Hospital in 1904

These facilities were only barely able to cope with the increase in serving personnel, as well as injured seamen and civilians from the war at sea

The destroyer tender USS Melville based in Cork Harbour from 1917 to 1918, had a hospital service on board, and treated many US seamen, but it was not equipped or able to deal with contagious diseases such as influenza.

USS Melville
USS Melville and destroyers in Cork Harbour

At a present count, based on varied sources, over 198 US Naval personnel, based in Cork, Ireland, lost their lives between May 1917 and April 1919. Causes varied from accident or illness, to enemy action. Casualty list Here  

 Queenstown Hospital
The former Queenstown Hospital - now Cobh Community Hospital.

In December 1917 Charles Minor Blackford, serving on USS McDougal , was taken ill with influenza. He was sent to Queenstown General Hospital, run by the Bon Secours nuns, which he described as "a grim stone building topping the ridge overlooking Queenstown". Conditions in this institution were poor, with constant cold, and toilet facilities of the 'long drop' type.

There was only enough hot water for one shower for 12 men per day. This was combined with poor food and (in American eyes) substandard medical care.

The US Navy was charged one British Pound per day for each patient. By early 1918, the British military hospital at Haulbowline Island was extended, and US patients were moved there.

With the expansion of US Forces in 1918, it was clear that a dedicated hospital was needed for US naval personnel. The British War Office acquired White Point House and twelve acres of land, opposite Haulbowline Island, under the Defence of the Realm Act.

 location of hospital
Location of Whitepoint, in Cork Harbour.

The entire hospital was prefabricated and shipped from the USA. The materials arrived in Queenstown on the 24th of May 1918, and work quickly began.  The construction consisted of 50 hutment units, from which the hospital buildings were made. Construction was undertaken by naval forces with no civilian contractors used.

Obtaining clean water was problematic, and several well bores were run without success Eventually Admiral Sir Lewis Bayley, Commander in Chief of Western Approaches, gave permission for the Haulbowline water supply, from Spy Hill reservoir , to be tapped.   As freshwater was in short supply, salt water was pumped from the sea at White Point into holding tanks for latrines and fire fighting services

The hospital consisted of :

7 Main wards. 128 feet x 20 feet. One ward contained 40 beds, two toilets, two shower baths and a urinal. All hutments had electricity, and central heating radiators. Total capacity of the hospital was 250 beds.

Two operating pavillions, each consisting of operating,room, etherizing room, and sterilizing room.A cluster of five 50 candle power lamps under a reflector furnished illumination.

Mess room

Hospital corps barracks

Chapel

Red Cross Room

Brig

Various store rooms

The YMCA provided a building containing a barber shop, reading and pool room,a canteen, and a stage

There was accommodation needed for the 30 nurses stationed at White Point. Mrs C.Hathaway, wife of the American Consul, and Mrs P.C.McFarlane, supervised the refurbishment of White Point House as a nurses home. When complete it only had a capacity of 18, the other nurses were accommodated in a hutment nearby.

 Whitepoint then and now
Whitepoint, then and now

The staffing of the hospital was accomplished by drawing from the Providence, Rhode Island, Navy Red Cross, and the personnel were firstly trained in the naval hospital Newport, Rhode Island. This was organised under the direction of Lieutenant Commander G.A. Matteson MC, USNRF. When in operation, the hospital was to have a staff of 149, which included 30 nurses.

The unit of 38 nurses sailed for Europe on the 23rd of September 1918, under the charge of chief nurse Grace McIntyre. They travelled on the Union-Castle Line steamer RMS Briton . The passengers also included 2200 American troops, destined for war service.

 RMS Briton
RMS Briton

There was an outbreak of influenza on board. It spread quickly, and soon there were 160 stricken soldiers. The nursing staff volunteered their services, and brought the situation on board under control. They were commended by the Officer in Charge, Colonel Ottwell. The nurses landed in Liverpool and were transferred to Ireland.

United States Navy Base Hospital no 4 Queenstown, Ireland, opened on the 11th of October, and the first task for the nursing staff was dealing with the injured men from the collision between the USS Shaw and the Aquitania , two days previously.

After this the main business at hand in the hospital was dealing with the influenza epidemic of 1918 and 1919 which was at it's height. It struck mainly young fit able bodied people, and the military life of close proximity living, provided an ideal means of spreading the disease.

aerial shot of hospital

Location of the hospital and grounds

From the beginning, the hospital was operating at capacity. Two nurses were detached for duty to Berehaven, for treating those servicemen too ill to travel to Cork. Two more were sent to assist the staff at the British Naval Hospital on Haulbowline Island, in the harbour.

The hospital was under the command of Captain Dudley N. Carpenter, Medical Corps, USN. He was later awarded the Navy Cross, for his services in Ireland.



Lieut.-Commander Lucius W.Johnson, Medical Corps, USN

Lieutenant George A. Eckert, Medcal Corps, USN

Lieutenant Thomas D.Baxter, Medical Corps, USN

Lieutenant Rodney J. Youngkin, Medical Corps, USN

Ensign H.T.C. Welsh, Pay Corps, USNRF

Pharmacist Fred C.Duncan, USN

Lieutenant George A. Eckert, Medcal Corps, USN

Lieutenant Thomas D.Baxter, Medical Corps, USN

Lieutenant Rodney J. Youngkin, Medical Corps, USN

Ensign H.T.C. Welsh, Pay Corps, USNRF

Pharmacist Fred C.Duncan, USN

ARTIFICER BRANCH



William E. Lucas CMM USNRF

Alfred Buckley, Jnr. CMM USNRF

Robert Lucas CMM USNRF

Norman Thorpe CMM USNRF

Peter L. Thompson Eng 1C USN

George C.Greene MM 1C USNRF

John Rhodes S.Fit 1C USNRF

Thomas P. Clark S.Fit 1C USNRF

Harold E.Peck El 1C USNRF

Sante Moise MM 2C USNRF

Don E. Whittier MM2C USN

William M. Kelos El 2C USNRF

Ellsworth E. Nance CM 2C USNRF

Edwin Anderson CM2C USNRF

Elmer O.Johnson F 1C USNRF

Max L. Strong F 1C USN

Frank Till F 1C USN

William C.Chambers F 2C USN

Maurice E.Irish F2C USN

Heber B.Moore F3C USN

YEOMAN BRANCH



Stephen E.C. Kendrick Chief Yeoman USNRF

William J. Hammond Chief Yeoman USNRF

Arthur J. Xavier Chief Yeoman USNRF

John C. Moran Yeoman 1C USN

Worley M.Arwood Yeoman 1C USN

John A.Ripp Yeoman 1C USNRF

Paul V. Costello Yeoman 1C USNRF

Sidney W. Wray Yeoman 1C USNRF

Leo K. Hill Yeoman 1C USNRF

Jules H.Rosenberg Yeoman 1C USNRF

Jesse O. Sandlin Stkpr 1C USN

Christopher T. Nolan Yeoman 2C USNRF

Theodore J. Copelof Yeoman 2C USNRF

George L. Howe Yeoman 3C USNRF

William L. Downey Lds Yeo USNRF

HOSPITAL CORPS



Alfred F.Brisson CPM USN

Elmer Schwinn CPM USN

John P.Bennett PhM2 USN

Wallace R.Boren PhM2 USN

Lewis T. Brookshire PhM2 USN

Guy W.Holly PhM2 USN

Thomas R. Mc Carthy PhM2 USN

Thomas A.Pariseau PhM2 USN

Elven W.Scott PhM2 USN

Josiah Shropshire PhM2 USN

John G.Sinclair PhM2 USN

Robert E.Van Clief PhM2 USN

Stephen Bauer PhM3 USN

John Bennett PhM3 USN

Floyd G.Desch PhM3 USN

Elmer V.Eckland PhM3 USN

Charles G.Goold PhM3 USN

Paul A.Haring PhM3 USN

Rupert B.Hinton PhM3 USN

George W.Jackson PhM3 USN

Albert R.Nisely PhM3 USN

Edgar C.Perkerson PhM3 USN

Kenneth L. Pugh PhM3 USN

Gradye L. Welborne PhM3 USN

Nathan S.White PhM3 USN

Paul H,White PhM3 USN

Armour D.Wright PhM3 USN

Twig Henderson HA1 USN

Sidney L.Johnson HA1 USN

Frank P. Kern HA1 USN

Russel R.Roberts HA1 USN

Harry E.Sprankle HA1 USN

William Suter HA1 USN

Fay A.Sweet HA1 USN

Valdes A. White HA1 USN

Harland A.McCarthy CPM USNRF

Paul C.Dickert PhM2 USNRF

Harry B.Murray PhM2 USNRF

Robert M.Aylsworth PhM3 USNRF

Linton B.Brown PhM3 USNRF

Harry V.Byrne PhM3 USNRF

John R.Cheetham PhM3 USNRF

Alfred Fox PhM3 USNRF

Wilfred M.Hamill PhM3 USNRF

Harry A.Noel PhM3 USNRF

Edgar J.Staff PhM3 USNRF

Frederick E.Walker PhM3 USNRF

George H.Bristol HA1 USNRF

Byron A.Cole HA1 USNRF

Charles D.Flagg HA1 USNRF

Robert W.Nelson HA1 USNRF

Edmund J.Tanner HA1 USNRF

James F.Lavery HA1 USNRF

COMMISSARY BRANCH



Walter H.Kelly CC Std USN

Clarence R.Lewis Bak 1 USN

Rodger O’Mott SC1 USN

Frederick A.Tucker SC1 USN

Peter A.Carr SC1 USNRF

William F.Durvin SC1 USNRF

Peter A.Carr SC1 USNRF

Peter H. Mitson SC1 USNRF

Joseph Mori SC1 USNRF

John P.Ormond SC1 USNRF

James P. Duffy SC2 USNRF

Frank D.Hurley SC2 USNRF

Michael Moretti SC2 USNRF

Archibald M.Morrison SC2 USNRF

Lawrence H.Smith SC2 USNRF

William T.Cashin SC3 USNRF

Joseph E. Donahue SC3 USNRF

Edward V.Kilduff SC3 USNRF

Edward A.Madden SC3 USNRF

Ralph L.Smith SC3 USNRF

John R.Oneal SC3 USNRF

William H.Ward, jnr. SC3 USNRF

Charles H.Jones W.R.Std USNRF

Philip Houle M. Att1 USNRF

RED CROSS NURSING STAFF

(From Providence, R.I.)



Grace McIntyre - Chief Nurse

Ruth E.Anthony,

Ada Gertrude Ayers,

Rose V. Basso,

Marilla Berry,

Corine L. Bouchard,

Annie Bovair,

Ethel E.Briggs,

May Bright,

Reba Alice Brown,

Ruth Carter,

Eva May Clement,

Gertrude E.Craig, Deery,

Anna T.Degnan,

Claire E.Du Brau,

Margaret G.Evans,

Ruth Graham,

Janie Grant,

Mary Jenkins,

Mabel B.Johnson,

Olga D.Johnson,

Constance Martin,

Juliana J.Murphy,

Mary Agnes Murphy,

Ella M.W.McCanna,

Annie McCaughey,

Margaret D. McCaughey,

Mary R.McIntyre,

Hilga S.Nelson,

Mary E.Olding,

Esme Ruth Peckin,

Nellie B, Rippen,

Margaret E.Ross,

Thelma Selfridge,

Isabel Tait,

Maria Eiisia Trimble,

Alma E.Ulrich,

Rugh M.Wallen,

Alice L.Ward,

(Nursing Staff Names Courtesy of Jean Shulman R.N.)



By the Armistice, in November 1918, hospital spaces for US Naval personnel in Cork Harbour had expanded, and consisted of:



USN Base Hospital No 4, Whitepoint.


USS Melville,


USNAS Aghada


Royal Naval Hospital, Haulbowline.


washingtons birthday
Menu Card, 1919.

On the 3rd of January,1919, Admiral Sims, Commander of US Naval Forces in Europe visited Whitepoint Hospital. A number of the patients, who were deemed fit enough, were removed to the mother-ship USS Melville , which left ireland on the 6th of January, for Boston.

Whitepoint House
Whitepoint House, then and now

The United States Navy vacated the hospital in March 1919. The British War Office immediately took over the area. With the departure of the United States forces, some the huts were quickly taken down and sold off locally. A number of huts were retained by the British Forces, and used to billet troops. The unique feature of central heating made them far preferable to the Belmont Hutments, in the east of the town.

By November 1919, the British War Department was advertising for grazing on the 12 acre site. In 1920, during the Irish War of Independence, the Cameron Highlanders were stationed at Whitepoint.

In the 1920s' and 1930s' Whitepoint came under consideration for the deveopment of a 'Lido' type swimming pool along the shore line, and later as a station for an intrenational flying boat base. Neither of these plans came to fruition

In the 1970s', a large part of the former hospital site was acquired by the Local Authority for housing



aerial shot of base location
Whitepoint