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UK Ambulance trains


Guest Robpoole
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Hi all: I am researching the UK ambulance trains, particularly those in the North Kent area. There were I believe 20 such trains in the UK, taking wounded from Dover and Southampton to 196 reception centres nationally, from where they were taken by motor ambulance to VAD, military or general hospitals. Does anyone have any information on where these reception centres were, and if possible any timetables/details etc for the trains themselves?

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Not quite what you are asking, but I hope you find this useful.

At Dover the South East & Chatham Railway ran ambulance trains from the new Marina Station which had been opened to military use on 2nd February 1915 (now Dover Cruise Liner Terminal). During the entire war the number of wounded arriving at Dover requiring hospital treatment was a staggering 1,215,866, conveyed on 3,166 ambulance ships. The total number of ambulance trains run was 7,515, often twenty a day. On many occasions the SE&CR transported men straight to their destination hospitals often running on other company's lines.

Stretcher cases were often treated on the platforms themselves, immediately after disembarkation. During the Somme offensive there were often hundreds of men at a time lying on the platforms. Many of the trains made two or three journeys a day and during the offensive up to nine ambulance boats a day arrived. Cigarettes and comforts were supplied by the Red Cross Depot at the docks, the work of which was organised by a Mrs. C.M. Davies, with distribution organised by Mrs Bird and Mrs. Ellery who had an office at the Admiralty Pier.

The more critically wounded who could not be transported straight away were taken to the Napoleonic-era Military Hospital at the Western Heights in Dover where extra huts were built. A great many men died at the Heights. The pressure put on the services during Dover through the war was tremendous.

Sources "Dover and the Great War", J.B. Firth (1919) and "Dover and the European War", Dover Express (1919).

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am interested in your comment that there were 196 reception centres and would be grateful if you could say where this information came from.

We are carrying out research into the casualty clearing station at Eastleigh. (It was initially designated as a Clearing Hospital, then as a Military Hospital, and then as a CCS.) This had 1280 beds and lasted from April 1915 to April 1919. Lightly wounded and sick soldiers (ORs only) who arrived at Southampton docks were sent by railway a few miles to this CCS. Here they would be given a bath, a hospital uniform, a chat with the padre, some entertainment and a medical assessment. They would then be sent on to an appropriate hospital. A typical stay in Eastleigh would be 4 or 5 days.

I understand that another CCS was set up to handle wounded arriving at Dover but that, for some reason, this was fairly soon abandoned.

We would be interested if anyone has any more information about the Eastleigh CCS.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I am interested in your comment that there were 196 reception centres and would be grateful if you could say where this information came from.

We are carrying out research into the casualty clearing station at Eastleigh. (It was initially designated as a Clearing Hospital, then as a Military Hospital, and then as a CCS.) This had 1280 beds and lasted from April 1915 to April 1919. Lightly wounded and sick soldiers (ORs only) who arrived at Southampton docks were sent by railway a few miles to this CCS. Here they would be given a bath, a hospital uniform, a chat with the padre, some entertainment and a medical assessment. They would then be sent on to an appropriate hospital. A typical stay in Eastleigh would be 4 or 5 days.

I understand that another CCS was set up to handle wounded arriving at Dover but that, for some reason, this was fairly soon abandoned.

We would be interested if anyone has any more information about the Eastleigh CCS.

Hi I'd be interested to know how you're getting on with your research into the Eastleigh CCS. I have been trying to contact some of the people who were in Eastleigh Town Park over the summer but never had any replies and now the email has become defunct. I have some info and pictures on the hospital but despite being a local not had a chance to really do much digging ... mainly been focused on the Winchester Camps and Hursley in particular, but interested to hear how you're getting on and happy to help if i can .. feel free to PM me or post here.

Cheers

Dave

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