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Gustywinds

Friends' Ambulance Unit

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Gustywinds

I have been researching my great uncle, originally for his work in the RNAS where he died in December 1917, but soon found he had a much longer career in the Friend's Ambulance Unit, a Quaker-run volunteer force. I have got a huge amount of information from both the Quaker Library in London and the collections of Laurence Cadbury who was the 'chef' of the specific unit (SSA13) my great uncle was in. If anybody is researching people in the unit, please get in touch. 

001.jpg

The most interesting one recently is this photo from the book 'Talking Across the World" by Olaf Stapledon who later went on to be a philosopher and science fiction writer. He is sitting second to left and is, not surprisingly , the only one without a name next to him. Through the record cards at the Friend's library, I have managed to identify all the rest:

Surname First names Born From Background Notes
Smeal John (Jack) 97 Hertford Student Brother of Routh
Newby Bill 93 Norwich Grocer  
Geale Alan 91 Surrey Student  
Brooks Basil 94 Goldsmiths Gentleman Brother of Douglas
Marshall Charles 73 Keswick Orange Grower  
Brooks Douglas 97 Goldsmiths Student Brother of Basil, was SSA14
Greeves Thom 95 Belfast Flax Spinner My great uncle
Locke  Harry 89 Hanwell MSX Mechanic  
Brown Henry 'Daddy' 91 Chester Dental Technician  
Wetherall Francis 77 Worcester Engineer  
Wilson Edward 95 Kiddieminster Student  
Pimm Laurence 89 Guildford Estate Agent  
Smeal Routh 95 Hertford Student  
Cadbury Laurence 89 Birmingham Chocolate manufacturer  
Burtt Henry (Harry) 94 Kettering Farmer  
Goodall Percy 88 Ealing Teacher  
Davies Michael 93 Beaconsfield Student  
Burtt Theodore 96 Kettering School  
Sokell Leonard 90 Driffield, Yo Bookseller  
Stabledon Olaf 86 West Kirby Lecturer  
Carter Roger (Bonham) 90 Poole Tile Manufacturer  
Fox Julian (Reynard) 94 Somerset Student  
Quarterman George 90 Northampton Motor Mechanic  
Bevington Gordon 92 Canterbury Commercial Traveller  
Southall Colin 98 Birmingham

School

 
Edited by Gustywinds

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seaJane

That's fascinating! I had no idea Stapledon was a Quaker or that he had served during the war. His most famous book is probably Last and First Men and after that Starmaker.

 

sJ

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Gustywinds
8 hours ago, seaJane said:

That's fascinating! I had no idea Stapledon was a Quaker or that he had served during the war. His most famous book is probably Last and First Men and after that Starmaker.

 

sJ

 

Hi Jane,

He wasn't actually a Quaker himself, he joined because he was rejected for the army and had many Quaker friends. The book is a catalog of his letters to and from his finance in Australia. Well,worth looking out for.

The famous mathematician Lewis Fray Richardson https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_Fry_Richardson was also in the unit later as were numerous members of the Fry, Cadbury and Rowntree Families. The notable exception was Egbert Cadbury, Laurence's brother who went against family wishes and joined the RFC, shooting down 2 Zeppelins in his career.

The man standing next to my great uncle is Douglas Brooks who left the unit the same day. They seem to have ben close friends, He was the son of the founder of the Portland Cement company and went on the be a decorated RFC pilot. His son, in turn, was in the SOE in WW2

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dink_and_pip

Great picture!

Do you have any information on the badges of the unit? 

I know of a lapel badge but believe that to be from WW2 

Andy 

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barkalotloudly

Does anybody else have a copy of "Two years with the french army" the history of Section Sanitaire Anglaise 19 I have a copy with a rather important page missing!!

 

many thanks 

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Bernard_Lewis

Re SSA 19 which page is missing? I have some pages as JPGs but the book is in the West Glamorgan Archive Service holdings. Let me know the page number, if I don't have a JPG of it I can get one for you on the 29 July when I next visit the archive.

 

Bernard 

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barkalotloudly

Very many thanks for your swift reply the pages missing are the last two? listing the names/addresses of all those who served  { i have the first page which lists up to  "G" but alas no more!!

 

very best regards John 

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Gustywinds
4 hours ago, barkalotloudly said:

Very many thanks for your swift reply the pages missing are the last two? listing the names/addresses of all those who served  { i have the first page which lists up to  "G" but alas no more!!

 

very best regards John 

 

If you are looking for a specific person, their record cards are online at http://fau.quaker.org.uk

 

my great uncle, sister and two cousins

http://fau.quaker.org.uk/search-view?forename=&surname=Greeves

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Gustywinds
5 hours ago, barkalotloudly said:

Does anybody else have a copy of "Two years with the french army" the history of Section Sanitaire Anglaise 19 I have a copy with a rather important page missing!!

 

many thanks 

They have two copies at the Friends library in London if that is any help

 

http://quaker.adlibhosting.com/Details/fullCatalogue/11527

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Bernard_Lewis

P1060746ASIDE1.jpg

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Bernard_Lewis

P1060746ASIDE1.jpgP1060746ASIDE1.jpgP1060746ASIDE1.jpgP1060746SIDE2.jpgP1060746SIDE2.jpgP1060746ASIDE1.jpg

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Bernard_Lewis

Ooops! Made a pigs ear out of that. I've got the last image but it won't load due to size problems despite resizing it. I'll try again!

 

Bernard

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Bernard_Lewis

Hmmm. I've got the file size down to 71kb but I still get a 'file to big message'. I'll see if I can PM it to you. It's the final page.

 

Bernard

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Gustywinds
6 hours ago, dink_and_pip said:

Great picture!

Do you have any information on the badges of the unit? 

I know of a lapel badge but believe that to be from WW2 

Andy 

 

The only one I've seem is this from the Friends' site

PNV_252_FAU.jpg

 

in pictures they seem to just have Red Crosses on hat and armband

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barkalotloudly
34 minutes ago, Bernard_Lewis said:

Hmmm. I've got the file size down to 71kb but I still get a 'file to big message'. I'll see if I can PM it to you. It's the final page.

 

Bernard

Bernard please ignore my last message just found all the pages very many thanks indeed for all your help! i can now complete the book

 

very best regards John 

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Bernard_Lewis

No problem, John.

 

Bernard

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Magnumbellum
On 11/07/2016 at 22:33, seaJane said:

That's fascinating! I had no idea Stapledon was a Quaker or that he had served during the war. His most famous book is probably Last and First Men and after that Starmaker.

 

 

Olaf Stapledon's service with the Friends' Ambulance Unit has been mentioned in two previous threads on GWF, as a search of the site for "Olaf Stapledon" will show, including one to which seaJane usefully contributed.

 

Incidentally, the name of the organisation was Friends' Ambulance Unit, being formed by a group of Friends, rather than the Religious Society of Friends itself; the title of the present thread, "Friend's Ambulance Unit", unfortunately implies that it was a personal venture of a single unnamed individual Friend.

 

"SSA 13" refers to "Section Sanitaire Anglaise No 13", reflecting the fact that the British Army was wary of accepting the voluntary services of the FAU, resulting in the Unit working principally with the French Army.. Founded in 1914 by men who foresaw an urgent humanitarian need in a conflict in which they could not morally play a military role, it was not initially concerned with the formal issue of conscientious objection, there being no military conscription to which to object. In 1916 arrangements were made for members to be formally recognised as conscientious objectors, although a significant number resigned from the FAU, seeing their role as indirectly contributing to the fighting by freeing for the front line who might otherwise have to be directed to medical services.

 

 

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Bernard_Lewis

John Oliver Watkins of Swansea features in my 2014 book. A Quaker, he gained exemption on condition that he joined a FAU. He ended up in SSA 19 and gained a Croix de Guerre in 1917 for bringing in French wounded while under fire.

 

Bernard

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seaJane

Magnumbellum,

 

Which just goes to show that .my memory is not what it was :rolleyes:

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Gustywinds
3 hours ago, Magnumbellum said:

 

Olaf Stapledon's service with the Friends' Ambulance Unit has been mentioned in two previous threads on GWF, as a search of the site for "Olaf Stapledon" will show, including one to which seaJane usefully contributed.

 

Incidentally, the name of the organisation was Friends' Ambulance Unit, being formed by a group of Friends, rather than the Religious Society of Friends itself; the title of the present thread, "Friend's Ambulance Unit", unfortunately implies that it was a personal venture of a single unnamed individual Friend.

 

"SSA 13" refers to "Section Sanitaire Anglaise No 13", reflecting the fact that the British Army was wary of accepting the voluntary services of the FAU, resulting in the Unit working principally with the French Army.. Founded in 1914 by men who foresaw an urgent humanitarian need in a conflict in which they could not morally play a military role, it was not initially concerned with the formal issue of conscientious objection, there being no military conscription to which to object. In 1916 arrangements were made for members to be formally recognised as conscientious objectors, although a significant number resigned from the FAU, seeing their role as indirectly contributing to the fighting by freeing for the front line who might otherwise have to be directed to medical services.

 

 

 

Thanks, the title was a typo, I am well aware it is the Friends rather than an individual. Now corrected.

 

I am currently reading Corder Catchpool's book "On Two Fronts". Catchpool was an early FAU member but was one of the ones you mention who resigned when conscription was introduced. My great uncle's cousin John Greeves left at the same time and I though originally though it was in support of Catchpool but it is listed as being through ill health and he later joined the RNVR.

As you say, the SSAs mostly worked with the French, particularly later in the war and 100 year ago my great uncle was with the unit based at Compiegne supporting the French section of the Somme offensive. I have been unable to find out every much detail on operations in this area unfortunately.

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Magnumbellum
On 12/07/2016 at 07:32, Gustywinds said:


[Olaf Stapledon]  wasn't actually a Quaker himself, he joined [the Friends' Ambulance Unit] because he was rejected for the army and had many Quaker friends.

 

Stapledon's own account of how he came to join the FAU was published in Julian Bell (ed), We Did Not Fight, 1937. He wrote that he wrestled between the popular urge to do something and instinctive rejection of war. Eventually, he wrote to the War Office requesting a commission, but never received a reply. It may well be that his reluctance was evident in his letter, and he never followed up the lack of reply with a chaser, but it appears that although he obviously was never accepted by the Army, he was never formally rejected, either.

 

That was the context in which he compromised by joining the FAU, and his account is an honest reflection of the ambivalent position of the WW1 FAU, neither wholly in the military, nor wholly out of it.

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barkalotloudly

Just purchased a small booklet regarding a proposed reunion of the F A U in 1938 it has 26 pages and consists entirely of a list of names and addresses of the members of this unit as of 1934 a wonderful resource of information. 

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Magnumbellum
On 25/07/2016 at 14:06, barkalotloudly said:

Just purchased a small booklet regarding a proposed reunion of the F A U in 1938 it has 26 pages and consists entirely of a list of names and addresses of the members of this unit as of 1934 a wonderful resource of information. 

 

Certainly a useful find. Its accuracy would, of course, depend upon the extent to which former members had kept in touch.

 

From that point of view, I would be interested to know whether it lists Corder Catchpool and Olaf Stapledon, both mentioned earlier in this thread

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barkalotloudly

yes both are listed 

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barkalotloudly

Corder Catchpole

49 Parliament Hill

London NW3

 

Olaf W Stapledon

7 Grosvenor Avenue

West Kirby

Wirral

Cheshire

 

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