Resorts Was Formally WWII Military Hospital Thomas England General Hospital

Resorts Was Formally WWII Military Hospital Thomas England General Hospital



In September, 1942, Pvt. John Haynie was a recruit in basic training at Basic Training Center No. 7. His training was interrupted in November due to a rapid influx of casualties from the North African Campaign. He was then reassigned as an admissions clerk to handle incoming patients, while Haddon Hall was still the station hospital for the Training Center.

He recalls how the doctors and staff were friendly and informal; most of the station’s doctors, although officers, did not demand strict adherence to military protocol; they seemed more like family doctors than Army Air Forces officers. According to Pvt. Haynie, "doctors showed us how to determine symptoms of minor illnesses, so they could spend time on more serious cases." (J. Haynie interview, 11/12/97)

"I have been advised that there will be two programs conducted by the Surgeon General, in one of which the Chalfonte-Haddon Hall Hotels will be used as a hospital for convalescents, while in several other beachfront hotels the Surgeon General will conduct a reclassification, re-training and recreational program for men who have graduated from hospitals and who will be returned to active duty in the Army. 

I have also been advised that the Army Air Forces will conduct a program at seven beachfront hotels for the re-assignment of men who have been fighting overseas and in this Air Corps program there will be extensive recreational activities for these men . . . pilots, bombardiers, navigators, aerial engineers and gunners . . . the Convention Hall will be used both by the Army Air Corps and the Surgeon General under their various programs because of its great value as a recreational center" (Evening Union, 8/19/43).

Thus, according to Mayor Tom Taggart, in a speech to local pressmen, Atlantic City was virtually transformed into a basic training and medical care center in 1943. Headquartered at Convention Hall, the largest building in the city, the Army referred to the take over of more than forty resort hotels simply as Army Air Forces Basic Training Center No. 7. Haddon Hall Hotel, a seventeen-story beachfront hotel, under the command of Col. Robert C. McDonald, M.C., (Nov. 27, 1943-June 30, 1944) was turned into a station hospital servicing tens of thousands of Army Air Forces recruits. It had approximately a two thousand-patient capacity.

With the number of Atlantic City hotels under Army Air Forces (AAF) control now exceeding forty, and the number of casualties from all fronts mounting at a steady rate, the need for additional hospital space became increasingly evident. As a result of this need, the Army Air Forces set aside several of the largest hotels in Atlantic City for the creation of a general hospital. Several reasons for this decision can be found in a report of England General Hospital 1272nd Service Command Service Unit, Atlantic City, New Jersey, from 15 August 1943 to 31 December 1943:

  • Atlantic City is located on Absecon Island, a short distance off the southern New Jersey mainland. It has access to New York City and Philadelphia ". . . by U.S.-N.J. Highways 30 and 40, the Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore lines . . ." (Annual Report, Aug.43-Dec. 43, p, 3)
  • "Atlantic City has many fine homes, excellent public schools, well supported churches and good shopping facilities." (3) A large variety of recreational facilities are available.
  • ". . . -the year round climate of Atlantic City is distinctly favorable to the work of a general hospital." (3)
  • Several factors are linked to the climate:

1. "Atlantic City is far enough from the mainland and from centers of population to be free from air contamination from outside sources." (3)

2. There is sufficient air velocity to keep atmospheric contaminations from adversely affecting air quality.

3. The major use of oil or anthracite coal as fuel produces less air contaminants than other types of fuel.

4. "Atlantic City is a residential community with little industrial

activities (3)."

This facility consisted collectively of the following properties occupied by the Army: Haddon Hall, Chalfonte, Cedarcraft, Keystone, New England, Rydal, and Warwick Hotels, a large six-story garage, a power plant, and a laundry to the 1272nd Service Command Service Unit (Annual Report, Aug.43-Dec. 43, p, 3).

On September 8, 1943, the size of this new General Hospital was substantially increased by the additional take over of the Colton Manor, Dennis and Traymore Hotels. Actual possession did not occur until between October and November, depending upon the acceptance of the property as suitable for hospital use. Each hotel had its own particular purpose. For example, the Colton Manor was occupied by the nurses of the new hospital; the Traymore was accepted not as a whole, but on a floor-by-floor basis, until the entire hotel had been converted to a convalescent facility in December. At that time, all convalescent patients were moved to the Traymore, and all psychiatric patients were placed in the Chalfonte Hotel, an eight-story hotel adjoining Haddon-Hall, which consisted of eight hundred beds (3).

From August 16 to August 25, 1943, a total of 879 patients, most transferred from other hospitals on the Eastern Coast of the United States, had been received at this newly created, and as yet unnamed, General Hospital (4).

The new General Hospital took on the gigantic task of handling severely wounded patients from overseas battlefields including: North Africa, Sicily, Normandy, Falaise, Gab, Mons, and Aachen. On the first day as a General Hospital, the admission of 152 patients from Halloran General Hospital, Long Island, New York, was completed by the evening of August 16, 1943. Within five days, 168 additional patients had arrived; ninety-eight were of a psychiatric nature. Within a few weeks of opening, the General Hospital experienced a few firsts: the first awards ceremony - August 24 - at which seven infantrymen and two others received the Order of the Purple Heart*{*See Appendix A for descriptions of decorations}, [The total number of Purple Hearts presented to patients at this hospital exceeded nine hundred. This figure was determined by totaling the names mentioned on special orders from the National Archive records at College Park, Maryland.], the first patients to be discharged - September 3, the first death - September 18, and the first awarding of the Silver Star* on September 23. On October 7, 1943, the hospital received word that it had a name, "General Order No. 57, War Department, dated this date, designated the heretofore unnamed hospital as Thomas M. England General Hospital, in honor of Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Marcus England, Medical Administrative Corps, United States Army (5)." Lieutenant Colonel England was a hero of the yellow fever experiments in Cuba, in 1900. He volunteered under Major Walter Reed to stay in a bed previously used by a yellow fever victim, for twenty days, in order to prove that mosquitoes, and not contact with an infected person or object, was the fever’s method of transmission. His widow attended the dedication of his namesake (New York Herald Tribune, 4/29/44). By December 4, 1943, a total of four hundred one patients was received. This hospital was part of the First Army’s Second Service Command, 1272nd Service Unit.

According to the Annual Report for 1944, Introduction, page iv, on July 15, 1944, Colonel Sidney L. Chapell, M.C.:

. . . former commanding Officer of Woodrow Wilson General Hospital, arrived in Atlantic City and assumed command of the Hospital. Colonel Chappell, being a born and experienced administrator as well as a medical officer, set about at once to further build up the facilities of the Hospital and to increase its service. Under Colonel Chappell’s guidance and influence, the Hospital has surged steadily forward in its service to the sick and wounded. And through his sterling qualities and splendid leadership, he has won the respect and confidence of all persons with whom he has come in contact.

For the first five months, everything at the hospital seemed to be going well. The number of patients being reconditioned and/or returned either to regular duty or to civilian life exceeded five thousand. In March 1944, 254 casualties were the first to come directly from the battlefield in Italy to Thomas England General Hospital, followed in July by casualties from the Normandy invasion (Women’s Army Corps Museum, 7) . Then a tremendous setback occurred on September 14, 1944. A hurricane hit the South Jersey coast, the worst in Atlantic City’s history to that time. [Hurricanes were not then given names.]

A brief description of the island upon which Atlantic City sits is needed here. The island, Absecon Island, is separated from the South Jersey mainland by several miles of meadows, small bays, inlets and marshland. The island contains four individual communities - from south to north: Longport, Margate, Ventnor and Atlantic City. A community just north of them, separated by an inlet, is Brigantine. This entire area was heavily damaged by the hurricane of 1944.

With winds of eighty-two miles per hour, and incoming tidal waters, colossal damage was done to the Hospital’s units (The Bug, 6, 10/44). Haddon Hall, the main hospital building, was the hardest hit of the five big hotels comprising the installation. The rushing water forced open the doors of the basement entrance and poured into the cellar. More than five feet of water ruined food stuffs and hospital equipment. The Physical Therapy Unit and the new Artificial Limb Workshop suffered severe damage along with the power plant shared with the Chalfonte. Flood water knocked out the pumps that supplied water to the boiler rooms, which caused the loss of all power. The convalescent facility at the Traymore was flooded and without electricity and elevator service. The Colton Manor, where nurses and other female personnel lived, was undamaged. The Dennis Hotel, where enlisted men were barracked, was flooded and did not have electrical power. The following day, the order to evacuate the patients was given. Coast Guardsmen at the training school volunteered to assist with the effort as litter-bearers; one thousand patients had to be taken to waiting ambulances and then on to the train station where four trains stood ready to carry them to Halloran General Hospital in New York. Many of the patients had to be walked down eleven flights of stairs lighted only by flashlights or oil lamps. Mrs. Sophie Nestor was one of those people, who, during the hurricane, stood in the stairwells, holding lights while patients were carried down from their rooms (Nestor interview, 10/17/97). Within nine hours, the entire evacuation was completed. (Only one patient could not be evacuated-- Pvt. Louis Masonovi was a medic who had broken his back falling down a flight of stairs and became paralyzed.) Some hospital staff traveled with the patients, while others spent two days pumping water and removing debris, spoiled food stuffs, and ruined equipment out of flooded basements. Piles of furniture were seen lined up for blocks along the sidewalks, in an attempt to dry the furniture for reuse (Atlantic City Press/Evening Union, 9/44). Patients could not return from Halloran for a month until the hospital’s power supply was steady, its water potable and its surgical units were in sufficient operating condition. They were also then able to accept new patients for surgery (The Evening Bulletin, 10/44).

Many local businesses were severely affected by the storm, especially those directly on the Boardwalk. According to Eleanor Raven, a long time city resident and businesswoman:

Although the hurricane was in September of 1944, in February, when we began to renovate a store we leased on the Boardwalk near Florida Avenue, the building was still damp. A water mark reached to the light switches. There was so much sand inside that we had to use shovels to clear it out. We also had to scrape 16 layers of wallpaper off so the

walls could dry enough to be painted. It took us until September to open the Coral Reef (Raven interview, 01/22/98).

By 1945, Thomas England General Hospital had evolved into the largest hospital in the United States specializing in amputations and neuro-surgery. In February, the Traymore was converted from a reconditioning convalescent facility to a class III bed hospital. According to the 1945 Annual Report:

The hospital is functioning as a neuro-surgical center, an amputation center, a thyroid center and a center for the study of administration and therapy of streptomycin, in addition to the continued functioning of all the usual sections of a surgical service (1).

Of all the sections administered at Thomas England General Hospital during 1945, the most impressive was achieved by the Neuro-Surgical Section. This section comprised the largest single department within the hospital. The 1945 Annual Report stated that, "The majority of the surgery accomplished has been of the reconstructive type on both peripheral nerves and cranial cases returned from overseas theaters (2)." Because of the time required to achieve satisfactory results for such surgical procedures, a huge backlog of cases developed. At one point during the year, this backlog nearly reached one thousand. By assigning additional personnel to this section and more careful management, as well as performing a daily average of ten major operations, this backlog was reduced to less than one hundred by year’s end. Although the total number of admissions during 1945 exceeded eleven thousand from all sections, the Neuro-Surgical Section recorded only nine deaths, all a result of cerebral neoplasms (2). [Cerebral neoplasm is the continued growth of cells in the cerebrum, even after the stimulus that initiated the growth has ceased.] (Stedman, 168)

Paraplegic patients were defined as a sub-section to the Neuro-Surgical Section. At the beginning of 1945, this section contained forty-eight patients. With all the horrors of combat still fresh in their minds and the realization of their physical conditions as a result of those horrors, it was no surprise that the morale and general health of the patients was poor. This condition changed greatly when one officer and two full-time assistants were assigned to improve the plight of these patients. The 1945 Annual Report stated that:

The center contains twenty-three rooms of the normal hotel bedroom size. Five of the rooms are set aside as dining rooms where the wheel chair patients are served noon and evening meals. There is a physical reconditioning section of four rooms, occupational therapy section of five rooms, and an education section of five rooms and four lounge and music rooms.

All rooms are attractively decorated with window draperies, pictures and folding screens in the dining rooms. The decorative scheme was prepared by an interior decorator from Dover, Delaware, who volunteered her services. A comfortable, pleasing, home-like atmosphere

has been attained through the use of soft textured materials, attractive colors and luxurious appearing furnishings (32).

The well-being and comfort of the patients were foremost on the minds of those charged with the duty of assisting these men to return to some sense of normalcy. Each department and section had this concept as its personal and collective objective. Among those who contributed to this goal were: the Ward Surgeon, Counseling Service, Physical Therapy, Special Services, American Red Cross, Food Service, and the Reconditioning Service (32).

Physical reconditioning for wheel chair patients consisted of chinning bars, pulley weights, and other related activities in several rooms specially modified for this purpose. Those patients confined to bed or who experienced physical or emotional "setbacks" were provided with individual physical therapy in their rooms (33). Wheel chair patients were also encouraged to make use of the ping pong and pool activities. Approximately one hundred patients used these activities daily.

Occupational therapy facilities were furnished and constructed to accommodate wheel chair patients. Some of the activities available were ceramics, wood working, model building, metal work, sketching and painting. To encourage the further education of patients, facilities were created for those who wished to enroll in correspondence courses, as well as classes in typing, drafting, foreign languages, and music. A temporary library was also set up and equipped with a wide variety of books and magazines. The combined effect these facilities had on patients was a positive one.

The following is a partial list of changes, additions, and improvements for the paraplegic patient:

  • Walking ramps with steps and mirrors
  • Private dining rooms outfitted for wheel chairs
  • Model auto, without wheels or engine, setup to teach and practice driving
  • Hand printing press so patients could print their own newspaper
  • Afternoon entertainment provided daily

These improvements proved successful enough to warrant the making of a color motion picture which served as a morale builder and an introduction film for newly arrived depressed and dejected paraplegic patients. Another result was that complications, [spasm, decubitus ulcers, urological complications] common with such patients, decreased in severity and number, "once the patients are taught to walk and learn self care (3)."

With such positive results, the number of patients admitted exceeded 130 by the end of 1945. By Christmas, seventy-eight patients had recovered enough to be given furloughs home for the holidays. Of this number, only two required attendants (3). Those remaining at the hospital for the holidays were no longer deemed seriously ill. One specific patient is mentioned because of his accomplishment while on furlough, even though he was handicapped ". . . with a complete lesion at the level of T-4 . . . He learned sufficient self care that he was able to drive there {California} in his own auto. He has recently returned from the 8,000 mile auto trip without mishap (3)." One must realize that this trip was accomplished without the benefit of the Interstate Highway System which many people today take for granted.

In May 1945, 387 operations were performed, making this hospital number one out of all Surgical Sections in the country (4). The degree of certain surgical procedures was advanced at Thomas England General Hospital to the point of national recognition. For example, the Syme Amputation [amputation of the foot at the ankle joint with removal of both malleoli] (Stedman, 443) and partial amputations of the foot were recognized by the American Surgical Association and selected to be written as part of the Medical History of the War (1945Annual Report, 4).

On November 25, 1944, the first amputation patients got artificial limbs (WAC Museum, 7). During 1945, Thomas England General Hospital also became the largest Amputation Center in the nation with 1526 patients (4). The peak of this center was reached in July when the number of patients reached 1625. It became the job of this hospital to perform reamputations necessary for fitting artificial prostheses properly (4).

With such a large number of amputations at this hospital, an equally large number of artificial prostheses were required. Although purchasing prostheses in large numbers was easy, proper fitting required much more attention as each patient’s needs were different. The result was that, ". . . orthopedic mechanics were trained at this hospital until a Limb Shop was developed which has achieved an outstanding record. In August, 292 artificial limbs were fitted, which is the largest number ever turned out by an Army Artificial Limb Shop before or since (4)." As impressive as this record was, the number of patients needing one or more artificial limbs continued to increase at an even greater rate. Diligence and perseverance by the members of the Artificial Limb Shop were rewarded when the seemingly overwhelming backlog of patient requests was ended by January 1946, largely because the war ended in August 1945.

One of the most important services provided by Thomas England General Hospital was that of reconditioning patients. It was a major priority and consisted of three sections: Physical Reconditioning, Educational Reconditioning and Occupational Therapy. Patients were placed into one of four classes after a complete evaluation of their condition and rehabilitation needs:

Class I - patients who were ambulatory and had mild enough injuries that they could return to active service within a short period of time, and who did not continually require general hospital facilities or personnel.
Class II - patients who were ambulatory and were able to use the rehabilitation facilities; could be returned to active duty in a few months.
Class III - patients whose treatment still confined them to their wards.
Class IV - patients who were convalescent but were still bed patients or were confined to the wards and required further hospital treatment (27).

In January 1944, the decision was made to move all Class I and Class II patients to another hospital at Camp Upton, New York. From then on, concentration was on Class III and Class IV patients. In these two classes, exercise was light and the program placed an emphasis on educational work. Even bedfast patients were prescribed exercise; if a man had a thigh wound that kept him in a cast, he would have taken exercises that kept his arm, shoulder and back muscles strong and well (Atlantic City Press/Evening Union, 5/44). As the number of patients continued to increase, both the Chalfonte and Traymore Hotels were modified to accommodate personnel involved with these programs. "By July, the service had six officers and ninety-eight enlisted men and civilian employees." (1944 Annual Report 20). "The mission of the physical recon-ditioning program is to accelerate the return to duty or to civilian life of convalescent patients in the best physical and mental condition possible (26)."

A swimming pool was used as part of the reconditioning program at England General, known today as hydro-therapy. Unfortunately, this former hotel did not have a swimming pool of its own. It was necessary, therefore, to secure the use of swimming pools at the Ambassador and President hotels. Buses would shuttle the orthopedic, neurosurgical, upper and lower extremity amputee patients from both the Haddon Hall and Traymore (30). When time and temperature permitted, patients were encouraged to use the beach and surf in front of the hotels for water exercise. Those patients who were able could participate in activities such as: croquet, badminton, volleyball, horseshoes, quoit, softball, and touch football. Distance walking and running were encouraged. Golf was also an option. On June 1, 1945, the Atlantic City Country Club, located on the mainland in Northfield, New Jersey, was made available every afternoon for patient use. Transportation to the Golf Club was provided by the Red Cross (1945 Annual Report 31). Patients who chose to utilize the program included many leg amputees while others made the rounds on crutches (31).

By early 1945, the hospital had more than 2,800 patients. At the same time, only ninety-five Army and seventeen civilian nurses were on duty. This shortage was due to the continued drafting of nurses for all branches of the service. An invitation was made to the Superintendents of Nurses of civilian hospitals in Philadelphia, Camden, Bridgeton, Vineland, and Atlantic City by the Commanding Officer and the Chief Nurse of Thomas England General Hospital. A tea and meeting was held on January 11, 1945, at the Colton Manor Hotel [quarters for the majority of the nurses stationed in Atlantic City] (49), in order to pursuade them to assist in filling the demand for more nurses. Another meeting was held in the area with the intent of generating further interest among the nurses of the rewards of being an Army nurse, and to enlist as many as were willing to serve. Part of the success of this venture was included in the annual report:

The response to both meetings was most gratifying. Many nurses joined the Army Nurse Corps, and a large group who were ineligible for the service, applied for Civilian Nursing at this hospital. Due to the interest created in Army Nursing, a number of Nurses at the Atlantic City Hospital gave volunteer service to Thomas M. England Hospital during their off-duty time (49).


The nursing program was so popular that, ". . . during the spring and early summer, Colton Manor became over-crowded and it was necessary to house some of the nurses at the Hotel Strand, located next door to Haddon Hall (49)." At this period of time, the hospital had 256 Army Nurses assigned to its wards. Nearly a hundred had returned from overseas duty; "Many of the returnee nurses received meritorious commendations, and two nurses were awarded the Bronze Star* (50).

The hospital conducted basic training for nurses, after which many were transferred to other hospitals all over the world. By January 1945, 1,446 nurses had received their basic training at this hospital (50). With the return of so many nurses from overseas, space became critical. As a result of this influx of returnees, the decision was made to move the Basic Training Classes to Fort Dix, New Jersey. Another move to reduce the cramped conditions at England General is quoted from the 1945 Annual Report, page 50:

Over-crowded Nurses’ Quarters and the continuous arrival of returnee nurses forced the Administration to discontinue the services of civilian nurses in June and the Army Nurses’ Aide in September. Both of these groups gave excellent care to the patients and worked most harmoniously with Army Personnel. It can be truthfully stated that these ladies served well during the emergency. This statement was also to be applied to the volunteer civilian Nurses and aides who have also served nobly during the past year.

Demand for Army nurses did not ease. On June 15, 1945, the Army activated the Women’s Army Auxilliary Corps 31st and 32nd Hospital companies, and two weeks later, they were assigned to Thomas England General Hospital. The nurses’ duties included:

  • Medical Laboratory Technician
  • Medical Stenographer
  • Medical Technician
  • Surgical Technician
  • General Clerk

The women, although assigned to segregated units, "the 31st WAC Hospital Company was composed of one officer, and 66 EW, all colored . . . The 32nd WAC Hospital Company also had one officer, and 61 EW, race white . . . " (1946 Annual Report, 63), performed all these duties, as well as off-duty assistance by volunteering to "push wheel chair patients on the Boardwalk (63)." Their dedication was admirable.

Safe food was always an issue. During 1945, the Veterinary Service continued to provide the hospital with quality food inspection service. As before, the food was inspected at least three times: at time of purchase, upon arrival at warehouse or storage place, and upon delivery to the mess (52). Also, wherever food products were purchased, those establishments received visits from the Veterinary Service. In fact:

The Veterinary Service of this post was responsible for all meat, meat products, and dairy and dairy product inspections in this area. This included several Army Air Force stations, several Army Group Force stations, the Atlantic City Ice and Cold Storage Company from Vineland, New Jersey, and the Seabrook Farms at Bridgeton, New Jersey . . . During the years, the Veterinary Service inspected approximately 25,000,000 pounds of meat and dairy products (52).

The year 1945 was one of growth for Thomas England General Hospital. Some areas experienced a one hundred percent expansion in terms of personnel. For example, services provided by the American Red Cross nearly doubled from that of the previous year. No fewer than eighteen recreation workers, sixteen social workers, ten secretaries, and three administrative workers were added (53).

For some class III patients, the convalescent center at the Traymore became a beehive of activity; every effort was made to create a positive image for recovering patients. Responsibility for a patient’s recovery and adjustment to peacetime life was that of the Social Service Department. Both personal and family problems were addressed by members of this department who had medical and psychological training. A typical situation for assistance is described below:

As soon as a patient is placed on the critically ill list, the Military notifies the Red Cross Social Service office which in turn gets in touch with the Red Cross in the man’s hometown, asking that the family be aided in getting here if necessary, and assured that quarters will be provided for them upon arrival at the hospital (55).

Nearly 1,100 guests were accommodated in this manner during 1945 alone. A boost to the morale of patients occurred in March 1945, when, as spring approached, most men’s thoughts turned to baseball. The Entertainment Office, in New York City, arranged for the hospital to be visited by the New York Yankee Baseball Team. Not long after that, the Boston Red Sox made a similar visit, which proved to be of great delight to the patients and those who were caring for them.

As spring turned to summer, more and more entertainment opportunities were offered by local hotels and night clubs. According to the 1945 Annual Report:

Every hotel, night club and entertainment spot, called to offer their services to the hospital. We often found ourselves with an outstanding name band in the afternoon and an all star show in the evening. Checking statistics, we find that during this season in Atlantic City we had 82% of the name orchestras in the country here at the hospital (63).

The area of Atlantic City seemingly extended far beyond its physical boundaries found on the map. Local country clubs opened their doors for lunch, dinner and golf. Fishing trips were arranged with local charter fishing boats. Field trips to football games in Philadelphia were made in the fall. One such example of generosity is detailed in the 1945 Annual Report:

One of the nicest gifts or contributions to the hospital was the invitation extended by a lady of Philadelphia and Bridgeton. This lady owns a Shooting Lodge and this summer gave it over to the use of the patients from England General Hospital. Bridgeton weekends were popular. Each Thursday afternoon eight patients and two Red Cross workers or a nurse or the wife of a patient were taken by motor corps to "Turning Tides."

The lady had hired a cook and a caretaker and had the house completely cleaned and painted. She furnished all meals and took care of all expenses involved (65).

Not far from Atlantic City, on an adjacent island to the south, is Ocean City, New Jersey. The entire community accepted patients from the hospital each week during the summer, and their hospitality aided in the patients’ successful recovery.

The fact that the New York Yankee Baseball team conducted its 1944 spring training in Atlantic City instead of its usual trek to Florida, was the thrill of a lifetime to many local residents besides those in a military uniform. One such local resident was a young boy from Ocean City, whose visit to the Venice Restaurant in Atlantic City with his parents was remembered, not for the food, but for the vision of Joe DiMaggio. "I took a final look, closer this time, and noticed that on the table in front of my hero was a plate of spaghetti . . . and everybody around him smiled--including me (Talese, 57)."

Included in the support provided by nonmilitary personnel were representatives from a wide variety of major religions. Chaplains were assigned to the hospital to strengthen patients’ emotional well being. In addition, frequent visits were made by

rabbis, priests, ministers, and a variety of other clergymen from Atlantic City, as well as from surrounding communities.

Of equal value to the patients’ recovery were the activities provided by Special Services. From its beginning in February 1945, the music program they provided was accepted as a positive influence on the patients. A number participated in taking lessons with instruments of their choice. As time progressed, an orchestra was formed, which provided entertainment for United Services Organization dances and local radio broadcasts (74). Fifty-five patients had received 3166 music lessons between February and October. Of all the instruments available, the piano was the most popular, with more than 250 lessons given just in the month of October (75). ". . . the music program which has been cited by the War Department as a model for general hospitals . . . (74)" was declared a tremendous success.

The Special Services Section provided a number of additional services to patients. Among them were: arts and crafts, woodworking, and library services. Patients were treated to theatrical performances and motion pictures. Results of such services are cited below:

The sum total of work completed cannot be added in figures for the most important result of all these activities is measured on the barometer of morale. Sufficient to say, that more than one-half million overall personnel have been serviced by the welfare, recreational and enter-tainment facilities of Special Services at this installation in 1945 (78).

The Bugle, on page 13, reported about the Miss America Pageant and the winner, Bess Myerson:

. . . In September 1945, when Bess Myerson and her sister contestants arrived in Atlantic City, Thomas M. England General Hospital formerly Chalfonte Haddon Hall and Traymore hotels became the largest amputee hospital in the world with 4,924 patients, 1,250 enlisted men in the medical detachment, 445 officers and nurses, and 900 civilian employees. -- The one bright spot of Bess’s Pageant was the veterans. Bess adds: "I took it all very personally. In the same way that one is supposed to take Passover personally and say at the Seder ‘God brought me out of slavery in the land of Egypt . . .’ I felt that the soldiers in England General Hospital had saved me and my family from the Nazis, that Hitler had been stopped by their arms and legs.

Victory in Europe (V-E) Day, May 7, 1945, and Victory over Japan (V-J) Day on August 15, 1945, brought an end to World War II. Soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen began returning to the United States to resume their civilian lives. Large numbers of wounded needed extra time to rebuild bodies, minds and hearts; Thomas England General Hospital filled that need.

By January 1946, the need for the hospital was drawing to an end. It was decided to close the hospital on June 30, 1946. The decline of military activity in Atlantic City precipitated the reconversion of hospital buildings to their civilian owners and returned them to their status as first-class hotels. This transition was not without its controversy. Some of the patients formed a group which lobbied to keep the Hospital open. The hotel owners argued that the Army was deserting them in the middle of their prime-time as resort hotels (1946 Annual Report, 28 ).

The first to close was the Traymore. All reconditioning programs, equipment and personnel were moved to the Haddon Hall, Thomas England General Hospital’s main building, on February 1. By April, its gym was closed as well (28). The Colton Manor was closed as nurses quarters and all remaining personnel were moved to the sixth, seventh, and eighth floors of the Chalfonte Hotel, on April 25 (36). On June 2, the Occupational Therapy Section closed officially, and all property was returned to Medical Supply (31). Veterinary Service ceased activities and inspection on June 20. By June 30, 1946, and the entire facility known as Thomas M. England General Hospital ceased to exist as the last remaining hotel was released to its civilian owners (68).

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