Campbell College in East Belfast is best known today as an all-boys grammar school but during the Second World War it was a military hospital that treated injured and sick British servicemen.

Campbell College had opened in 1894 as an all-boys public school but in 1940, the site was taken commandeered by the War Office and transformed into the 24th General Hospital.

The school transferred its pupils, teachers and lessons to the Northern Counties Hotel in Portrush where it remained until 1946.[i]

The military hospital operated around 450 beds housed in wooden Nissan huts built in the grounds.[ii] The hospital also had an onsite laboratory department that conducted animal experiments.[iii]

During the Belfast Blitz in May 1941, when the Luftwaffe, the German air force, attacked Belfast, the hospital was accidentally bombed. Significant damage was caused to the hospital Nissen huts and school buildings and 19 medical staff and patients were killed.[iv] In February 1946, the army left and the school returned.

The school today is a schedule B grammar school and educates around 1,200 pupils.

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[i] Haines, Neither Rouges, pp.205-206. See also ‘Campbell at Portrush, 1040-46’, Campbell College Archives.

[ii] Quarterly Report of the Surgical Division of the Military Hospital, Campbell College, April to June 1944, TNA, WO 222/897.

[iii] Quarterly Report of Command Laboratory Northern Ireland, Major John O. Oliver, 5 July 1944, TNA, WO 222/897.

[iv] Accessed 16.6.21.