Tag Archives: R.A.M.C. 1916.

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’.

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19th July 1916: ‘YOUR BROTHER: I FEAR THE WORST HAS HAPPENED’. ‘ONE SHALL BE TAKEN THE OTHER LEFT’.

South Staffordshire BadgeeH.E. BIRD, C. QMS 1/5th South Staffords Bn Head Quarters, Berles au Bois (1): LETTER to Pte BERTIE HIBBETT, The Cenacle, Red Cross Hospital, New Brighton, Cheshire.

                                                         19/ 7/ 16

Dear Bert,

I was pleased to hear you have got to Blighty and hope your wound will soon be healed (2). 

SYDNEY HIBBETT 20 in 1914.
SYDNEY HIBBETT
20 in 1914.

With regard to your brother Sid, I am extremely sorry to say I fear the worst has happened.  The last thing I can get to know of him was that he was severely wounded, lying in No Man’s Land.   He was unable to speak but wrote on a piece of paper that he required a drink of water, which one of our chaps gave him, but could not stay with him. That is the last we have heard of him.

I hope we may hear of him again, for he was a brave man and one who did his duty without fear or favour.  If, as I fear, the worst has happened, I hope you will try and soften the blow to your parents as much as possible. 

All papers, letters etc I found in a pack belonging to you or your brother I have handed over to L.Cpl. Jones A.O*, as Sid told him if anything happened he was to forward them.

Venables
Arthur Venables. Thiepval Memorial to the Missing. Visit 2006.

Your chum Venables* is also missing, we can get no news of him at all (3).

Kind regards,  Yours sincerely,

H.E.Bird  C. Q.M.S.  Censor J. N. Wilkinson.

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

Revd. Arthur H. Hibbett 1965‘MY MEMORIES of the FIRST WORLD WAR’. 

It took us one and a half days to reach Le Treport where I was put on a bed in a tentThe next morning I awoke to see, in my bed, a basin of blood from my wounded wrist.  I was transferred from the tent to a Hotel-turned-Hospital on the cliffs of Le Treport.

lE tREPORT.
Treport-Coteaux et Trianon-Hotel, aux Terrasses. A nurse has written Pte Bertie’s address ‘Red Cross Hospital, New Brighton’ twice on the front. Posted 7.7.1916.

I was in the bed next to another wounded soldier being treated by a doctor; he was trying to get a bullet out of his patient with forceps, but the forceps kept slipping.  The sound of it got on my nerves.  I went out of the room, but it was likegoing from frying pan into the fire’, for on the landing four orderlies were trying to keep a  soldier down on his bed; he was raving with pain (4). I was glad to get back into my room again.

It was not long before I was labelled ‘Serious’, for I was wounded not only in my right wrist but had an extra ‘Blighty’: wounds to my neck and my left wrist as well.  The wound in my neck came when I was running out of the trench at Foncquevillers.  I was ordered home.

The voyage across the Channel was memorable indeed for, while I was eating a late dinner on board, I heard that my brother, Sydney, had been seen dead in No Man’s Land.  On his breast there had been a small piece of paper on which he had written,Pour a drop of water between my lips, thank you.  Now every Good Friday I am reminded of how the dying do thirst, when we sing His are the thousand sparkling rills … and yet he saith ‘ I thirst’ (5).

On hearing the news of my brother I could eat no more, but went straight to my cabin bunk. Two shall be in the field of Battle, one shall be taken and the other left’ (6).

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

The details of my uncle’s death, given by Chaplain H.E Bird’s in his Letter of 19th July, 1916, tie up closely with my father’s ‘Memories’ 1967. These in turn no doubt rely on a note in my father’s 21st Birthday Album, 12th July, 1916, but probably added some years later which reads: ‘Soldier Jones gave a piece of paper to my Mother on which was written by my brother Sydney, as he lay dying on the battlefield: Pour a drop of water between my lips. Thank you’. 

 (1) The Revd H.E. BIRD C QMS: Chaplain to the Forces, serving with the 1/5th Staffordshire Regt. (As Chaplain to Queen Mary’s School, Walsall, he probably went straight to the Front without any specific training). 1/5th S Staffords were now at Berles au Bois, a commune, 5 miles (8Km) approx. from Foncquevillers. His letter is presumably in answer to one from Pte Bertie Hibbett enquiring about his brother. 

(2) A ‘Blighty’: a serious wound that sent a soldier back Home. My father’s Blighty was a gun-shot wound to his right wrist & a wound to his neck (both of which we were aware of as children); he also had a minor wound to his left wrist. The German heavy 77mm guns had fired from 3 miles away behind Essarts. [See 1st July Operations. Appendix 1.]

(3) Arthur Venables* dressed Pte Bertie’s wound on the battlefield. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing. His family lived near 95, Foden Rd. See previous Hibbett Posts.

(4) Anaesthetic in WW1: chloroform, ether, ethyl chloride and nitrous oxide (oxygen mixture).  The RAMC had pitifully few resources to cope with the grossly under-estimated number of casualties for the first day of the Somme. Pte Bertie’s fellow patients at Le Treport either did not have any anaesthetic or were re-acting badly to it’s effects. See <https://www.asaabstracts.com&gt;: no development in anaesthesia since mid-19th Cent. /no new anaesthetics until 1940, but experience of WW1 put Britain at forefront of 20th Cent. development in anaesthetics. It is amost  unfortunate irony how modern medicine owes some of its existence to the existence of war‘. Anthony L. Kovac MD. University Kansas. 2006.

(5Hymn based on Christ’s words from the Cross, ‘I thirst’, John 19.29. Mrs Cecil Alexander, 1875. (6One shall be taken the other left’Matthew 24. 40-44. Apocalyptic/ poetic language to describe the Last Days, a future End Time (Eschaton). 

NEXT POST: 20th July 1916: ‘Back in the Homeland bearing the Marks of Unthinkable Experiences’.