Tag Archives: Field Ambulance Units.

15TH NOV.1916: R.A.M.C. GIVEN DUE CREDIT IN BATTLE OF SOMME.

R.A.M.C Autogrphed Cigarette Papers. Red Cross Hospital. 1916.
R.A.M.C. Troop’s Autos & their Cigarette Papers. The Cenacle Red Cross Hospital. A.H.H. Autograph Album. 1916.

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JOHN JONES, R.A.M.C. (1) Aid Post in the Line:

LETTER to Pte HUBERT HIBBETT, The Cenacle Red Cross Hospital, New Brighton, Cheshire.

15/11/16

Dear Mr Hibbett, 

Your letter from the Cenacle to hand yesterday. I am at present one of three stationed at an aid-post in the line (2), but of course things have quietened down considerably since you were up here. We have quite a snug little dug-out, doing all our own cooking, which is so much better than depending on a cook-house. 

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Casualties are brought down to the regiment aid-post about 20 yards from here, then we take them down to the dressing station from there.

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Front Line Dressing Station. http://www.emaze

I have not actually been stationed in the town you mention but at a hospital on the road about 2 miles towards the line. You may know where I mean.  Also at a prison dressing station (3) still further up the line.

British Soldiers carry German wounded.
British Soldiers with German wounded prisoners. Somme Offensive. July 1916.

I was pleased to hear that you were satisfied with the way the R.A.M.C. treated you out here.  Previous to operations  on the Germans (censored but decipherable (3)) people at home seemed to be under misunderstanding about the work of the R.A.M.C. out here but I think we are now given due credit for our work.

I gather that you were wounded in the arm ?( censored) (4) so you will know that we were far from idle or out of danger there (5).

New Brighton Wallesley Sands.

Certainly, my heart aches to be with you strolling along New Brighton Sands. It certainly is a fine spot for wounded to recuperate.

Our division has commenced leave (6) so I hope to see Blighty sometime before the ending of the war. I guess you don’t half enjoy those little concerts you have at the Cenacle (7).

I do not think I have anything else to write to you about this time, only it gives me great pleasure in being able to make a written acquaintance with you.  I am sure it gave mother (8) great pleasure in doing her little bit to get you better again. 

I remain,

 Yours very sincerely, John Jones* (scarcely readable signature).

**************************

ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

The writer of this Letter, John Jones, R.A.M.C., was most probably a civilian doctor who volunteered for service at the Front without having to undergo extra training. He appears to be the son of Mrs M.A. Jones, one of Marie Hibbett’s best friends in Walsall. Pte Bertie Hibbett frequently mentions her kindness in sending parcels & letters to him at the Front & to the Cenacle Hospital. 

John Jones is responding to my father’s request for information about what might have happened to his brother after he was reported wounded & missing in No Man’s Land. For many months the Hibbett Family hoped Sgt Sydney Hibbett might have been taken prisoner or might simply be lost in the system. ‘I see no objection to parties with Motor Ambulances searching villages in France for the wounded & to obtain particulars of the missing & convey them to hospital’. Lord Kitchener.12th Sept. 1914. 

Asclepius

(1) R.A.M.C. Badge has the Rod of Asclepius (with serpent  symbol of life & healing) surmounted by a crown, within a laurel wreath (symbols of honour & victory) with the regimental motto ‘In Arduis Fidelis‘ (Faithful in Adversity) or ‘Royal Army Medical Corps’ in a scroll beneath.  Asclepius was a Greek Hero & God of Medicine, (<www.GreekMedicine.net>).  R.A.M.C. medics wore an arm band but carried no weapon or ammunition. ramc-badge-jpg-opt150x144o00s150x144

(2) Aid Post in the Line: the first in a chain of medical posts organised by the Field Ambulance (FA). The FA Bearer Division brought wounded from the Front Line Regimental Aid Post (RAP) to a Casualty Clearing Station (CCS), then on to a Main Dressing Station MDS (Tented ‘Hospital’) for treatment by the FA Tent Division. At the outbreak of war the R.A.M.C. had only 5,000 officers & men.

Lt general Sir Alfred Kogh 1857 -1936.
Lt General Sir Alfred Keogh 1857 -1936.

After the Battle of Mons, 23rd Aug 1914, when many wounded died in the chaos for lack of transport & swift medical support, (Doctor) Sir Alfred Henry Keogh was appointed Director General of R.A.M.C. & completely re-organised it. 

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A massive fund-raising scheme to purchase motor ambulances took place. Many women acted as ambulance drivers & motor mechanics.

Women Drivers.
354. The English Camp -The Garage of Cars & Women Drivers (& Mechanics) at work in front of their  Red Cross Motor-Ambulances. Le Treport. 1916.
Field Ambulance on Parade. Location unknown
Field Ambulance Unit on Parade. Location unknown.jpg.opt.

A Field Ambulance Unit consisted of 10 Officers, 224 Other Ranks & Army Service Corps. ‘Each column consisted of ambulance wagons, water-carts, forage carts for stores, cook’s wagon, 52 riding & draught horses’ and a member of the Cycle Corps.  cf Hibbett Letters: 14th Dec. 1915 and <https://www.1914-1918.net/fieldambulances&gt;

Grateful thanks to Tony Allen for his excellent website “The Royal Army Medical Corps on WW1 Postcards <https://www.worldwar1postcards.com/war-wounded-and-the-ramc.php> It is full of information, well researched, clearly presented with numerous illustrations.

(3) German Wounded Prisoners: the R.A.M.C.’s humanitarian aim was to treat British & German wounded alike, according to the Geneva Convention of 1864: ‘Wounded & sick combatants, to whatever nation they may belong, shall be collected & cared for’. ‘Operations on the Germans’: i.e the Battle of Somme/Gommecourt (not medical operations).

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Fragmentation of 18 pounder Mark iii Shell (complete detonation). Courtesy Tony Allen.

(4) Pte Bertie’s Wound: a three-letter word (‘arm‘?) has been censored to prevent the enemy learning the effect of its shells. The R.A.M.C contributed to WW1 research into types of wounds caused by fragmentation of shells. One of these such fragments nearly cost my Dad his arm.

(5) ‘Out there’: ie Foncquevillers Church Crypt Field Dressing Station (where my father had his wound dressed & received anti-tetanus injection 1st July 1916).  If the Germans had counter-attacked the medics there might well have been taken prisoner as the FDS in the Church Crypt was so close to the Front Line.

(6) Division Commenced Leave: Leave had dried up since June  prior to Battle of Somme 1st July 1916 (i.e. nearly 6 months). See Hibbett Cartoon & Letter: 6th June 1916.

(7) Cenacle Patients’ Concerts: See Hibbett Letters: 4th Oct 1916 & 10th Nov. 1916.

(8) MotherMrs M.A.Jones, attended St Paul’s Church Walsall (wife of J.H.Jones on Walsall Education Committee? / called him ‘His Lordship’ 20th June 1915;12th & 13th Sept. 1915). Many refs in Hibbett Letters to her parcels & letters. Mother of Lance Corp. A.O.Jones to whom Sydney entrusted his pack should anything happen to him. See Hibbett Letters: 17th May 1915; 27th Feb. 1916;10th & 21st May 1916; 1st June 1916; 19th July 1916.

NEXT POST: 20th Nov. 1916. ‘I dreamt a dream last night . . . Sydney on a Charger  . . . helmet covered with leaves’.

12TH JULY 1915: BERTIE’S 20TH BIRTHDAY RELIEF & ‘SAUSAGES’.

South Staffordshire BadgeeSOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY.

ARMAGH WOOD TRENCHES.        

10th July, Sat:  More enemy rifle fire than usual. 15 rifle grenades were fired into enemy trenches, 4 failed to explode. Enemy fired 6 rifle grenades, 3 burst short, 3 behind our lines (1).

Rifle Grenade.
Rifle Grenade.

Patrol reports loose barbed wire in front of enemy’s trench opp. 50.  Enemy working party observed in Redoubt in front of 50, another enemy working party behind their front line fired on and dispersed. Our Snipers doing good work.  N.W. wind.  CASUALTY: WOUNDED: No 7594 Cpl. Marsh G.H.

11th July, Sun: Two enemy Aeroplane (2) over our lines yesterday evening and one from 3.45 and 4.20 am. this morning.  Enemy fired 4 trench mortar shells at 50. about 8.30 pm. damage slight.  Retaliated with 16 rifle grenades, 7 failing to explode. Our guns also opened fire. Suspect enemy sapping towards 50 from new redoubt. Enemy have lowered parapet opp. A1 and A2. Snipers report accounting for German officer. Enemy shell burst over A5 Support about 10.am inflicting 6 casualties. Our artillery shelled wood opp. A5.  Enemy replied by shelling Sanctuary Wood.            CASUALTIES: KILLED No 7849 Pte J. Perry, 9014 Pte G. Fletcher. WOUNDED: 9131 L/Cpl. W.H. Kendrick, 7983 Pte H. Downs. 7822 Pte L. Norris. 9403 Pte C.N. Harriman. 9437 Pte W.R.Thomas, 9304 Pte G. Latham. 1381 Coy. Sgt. Major, C. Hawkins. 8197 Pte G. Thorne. 9316 Pte J. Booth.

12th July. Mon: relieved by 5th Bn NOTTS & DERBY about 1.15 am.  In bivouacs at 5 am.  WOUNDED returning from the trenches, No 7962 Pte E. Cadman.  

Bertie in Uniform

Pte BERTIE HIBBETT: A Little Book of Words & Doings.  12th July. Birthday.Previous night returned from Zilebek trenches. Rained heavily on return to bivouacs at Ouverdom (sic)but sunny & fine later, & in evening. Spent money in Rheninghel(ps). Parcels from Harold & Home received on the day.  Rowntrees whipped cream – Vernon’s delight, cakes, etc.’

LETTER to MOTHER & FATHER, 95, Foden Rd. Walsall.

The Z-Urban Dist. Trench Improvement Society. Tel. No: 40.    

Bully Beef Bungalow. Prince John’s Birthday (3). July 12th/ 15.

My Dear Mother & Father,200px-Baden-Powell_USZ62-96893_(retouched_and_cropped)

If we go forward we die, If we go backward we dieBetter go forward & dieGen. Baden Powell (4).

How grateful I feel that I am alive & kicking & have come to see my 20th Birthday.

We returned to Bivouac about five this morning after a very long march in full pack across lovely country & passed many different scenes (5).  But we were tired & sleepy; I fell off to sleep on one of the rests.  We had breakfast very soon after we arrived back & the rain it rained & the wind it blew. But now the weather is sunny & bright, yet there is the same wind.

I had two small parcels while I was in the trenches.  One on Sat. – the other on Sunday.  On Sat I got some Mexican Chocolate (6) & Bachelor Buttons (7) from Bates*He wrote to me about two months ago saying he would be willing indeed to act as shop keeper for me.search Not aclkwishing to be mercenary I jokingly suggested he sent a card of Bachelors Buttons. Eventually he took it quite literally & said he had been round to many shops before he could get them.

Well I am surprised – or was on Sunday.  I got two nice letters in one envelope from Auntie*, one written on the Ist.  She said it was returned owing to omission of the Regiment.  Enclosed also was a lovely khaki silk handkerchief with rich blue border.  The parcel was from Okoo. I was looking forward to something nice inside such as cigs and chocs, but Oh dear I found two neatly wrapped boxes in white paper & sealed with red wax & some bandage.  Don’t be inquisitive now!

Molly Evans. Sketch:
Molly Evans. Pencil Sketch by C. Hardy. 1916.  (Bertie Hibbett’s 21st Birthday Album).

I must tell you all some more about the interesting letters I read; one which Vernon handed me in mistake, but said I could read it afterwardsWell, Ida, she mentioned about the names on the bedroom doors & ‘mousehole’ in the box room  – & Dodger, did they succeed in the tricks, especially the nightgown things (as Molly* puts it ‘cos she can’t spell pyjamas?  I did feel flattered when my pictures were mentioned for exhibition in the monkey showYes the letters were saturated about the pleasant time the two had at No 95.

Arnold Rowntree.
Arnold Rowntree..

houseMr Rowntree of York* went to Vernon’s house & his sister hoped he brought his trade with him namelychocolates delect’Norman, his younger brother, had been to the Royal Show at Nottingham.  I mentioned I was in some way intimate to the two facts ahem!  You must, dear Mummy, get the Observer & read about Rowntree (8 &9).

There is one unique coincidence with regard to ‘No 40’ –  ‘A’ Company touched for what we thought would be a squeamish position –  i.e. 40 yards from the enemy.  On the night of relief – i.e. Sunday – they threw what we call ‘sausages’ (10) into our trench.  You can see the sausages coming & are more prepared for the fall than when a shell comes.  A mine also blew up and we all ‘Stood To’Half thought we should have to cancel the relief & stay the night in the trenches.  Then ‘No 40’ comes in again with regard to the rumour of the length of time we shall be in the trenches next time after our 12 days rest in bivouac We are going, ‘they say’, to that place you have heard of that Ida wanted to know if we were anywhere near (11).  I want you to get this letter, so I had better not go too far in giving the show away.

Mr. F.O.Bates' House, Aldridge, Walsall,Staffordshire.
Mr. Frank O. Bates’ House,  Aldridge, Walsall, Staffs. Watercolour signed STB?

Well, dear Mummy, I will conclude my letters with love to you.  I wish I could ride to Aldridge again.  Mr Bates* said his roses & strawberries were in fine growth & he wished he could send me some.

Do you remember the tea party on the lawn when you were so generous as to lavishly buy cakes & biscuits for the scholars’ tea & the maid came to serve the mites And does Basil remember the little man & how the scholars liked the evening so much that they were not too keen to go home(12).

Got your two parcels today & enjoyed a good tea with Sydwill tell you more about today next time I write, but want to get this off by this post.

Best love,  Bertie.

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

Pte Bertie Hibbett’s relief at seeing his 20th Birthday after what was probably his worst week is paramount – and reflected in his use ofdear Mummy‘.

(1Hales Rifle GrenadeMartin Hale, 1907, a hand-grenade attached to a metal rod and inserted into the rifle barrel/ had range of 150 yards. (Not available to British Army until 1915. See also ‘Mills Bomb’ wikipedia).  Pte Bertie Hibbett experienced them ‘40 yards from the enemy’(2) Reconnaisance and/or Fighter Aeroplanes.

Prince John. 1915.
Prince John. 1915.

(3) Prince John Charles Francis. Disabled/ epileptic youngest son of George Vth, b.1905 d.1919 aged 14 yrs. 

(4) Robert Stephenson Baden Powell, 1857-1941. Mafeking Hero, Boer War 1899-1900.

Letter from Baden-Powell. 1927.
Letter from Baden-Powell to Mr. Hibbett. 1927.

Founder of Boy Scouts, educational innovator, promoting citizenship though outdoor activities. Much admired by my father who helped with Scouts when Curate at Alford, Lincolnshire, 1920s.  ‘Doing good & helping others’.

(5) ‘Different Scenes‘: my father plays down the dangerous trek back from the ‘New Trenches‘ after such a ‘relief‘ & so many casualties. (see Map of Route. Letter 9th July.1915).  (6Mexican Chocolate: Advert.‘ British Chocolate for our Soldiers at the Front. Offer of Cadbury’s. To mail direct post free. Tin containing g four cakes of famous Mexican Chocolate &1Ib tin of cocoa & milk powder. Total Cost 3 shillings & 6d.‘  The Argus. Oct 28th 1915. (7) Bachelors Buttons: Not sweets  (as 1st thought) but suspender buttons sent by Mr Bates, Aldridge.

(8) Arnold Stephenson Rowntree1872 -1921. Chocolate manufacturer, Quaker & Liberal MP for York, 1910. Involved in: Fellowship of Reconciliation (inter-denominational Christian group promoting pacifism 1914); Friends War Victim Relief; Quaker Meeting for Sufferings (led to creation of Field Ambulance Units); Military Service Act,1916 helped amend provision of conscientious objectors).  

Rowntree Society: Letters of Rowntree to his wife, Mary Katherine, 4th & 5th July, 1915, ‘visited Bournville at Uffculme, where I met George Cadbury – & Henry Cadbury, who motored me to Walsall (Dundrennan House, Wednesbury Rd):

Vernon's father, Enoch Evans as Mayor of Walsall 1921.
Vernon’s father, Enoch Evans* as Mayor of Walsall 1921.

‘where I stayed with a nice Conservative solicitor, Mr. Evans . . . got on nicely and after an early lunch Mr. Evans’ son motored me to Birmingham for Quaker Peace Talks. (9NB this ‘son’ would have been Norman Harrison Evans* (age 13, no age-limit/ driving test needed).

(10) ‘Sausages‘- Tommy’s slang for ‘rifle grenades’ (see (1) above). (11) Ypres Salient.  (12) Bertie Hibbett’s 19th Birthday Tea with Sunday School pupils at 95, Foden Rd. Walsall, 1914,

NEXT POST: 13th JULY, 1915.  Mother’s Birthday.