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Remembered Today:

So how dangerous was being an ambulance driver?


Felix C
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I read Hemingway's book and recently saw the film Razor's Edge. Was it glamorized as a result of this and other, unknown to me writings?

 

Was there a high casualty rate among ambulance drivers?

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Not up there with the infantry and it depends if you are talking about light ambulances (like the model T with the AFS etc) or the heavier transport ambulances (on metaled roads well behind the lines) - but in writing my book I read pretty much every published account of AFS drivers in addition to all of "my chap's" letters and french divisional accounts etc and they were certainly under artillery fire/gas a lot of the time. Occasionally under direct small arms fire but not commonly. It wasn't "going over the top", but certainly close enough to suffer some casualties . Casualty rate not high by comparison to other arms of service like infantry though.  All impressionistic of course -I don't have comparative data.

Chris

 

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Title of your book please?

 

Thanks for the info. When I originally read Hemingway's book long ago I thought ambulance driver, how dangerous can that be? 

 

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Not sure if I am allowed to tout it here:ph34r:....but it's "Three Lying or Four Sitting: From the Front in a Ford" - annotated collection of letters so all the best bits aren't by me anyway! (and all funds go to student scholarship!)

Chris

Edited by 4thGordons
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Ambulance drivers faced artillery fire, air attacks & dangerous roads in their duties. I'm surprised there were not more casualties overall. No idea of statistics but it was surely no joyride for them or their patients.

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3 hours ago, Loader said:

Ambulance drivers faced artillery fire, air attacks & dangerous roads in their duties. I'm surprised there were not more casualties overall. No idea of statistics 

 

That's very true. One of my grandfathers was a driver (not ambulance, but ASC) and I well remember how candid he was about his fear, bearing in mind that the roads were mapped and thus easily found by the enemy artillery

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The thread seems to have neglected the many horse drawn ambulances, which were often those closest to the fighting. They had drivers too.

 

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To my mind, driving front line ambulances could be very dangerous! Deliberately travelling over shell swept roads required a special type of courage. That is why many of the MMs to ASC drivers were to ambulance drivers.

 

All the best,

 

Gary

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The war diary for 73rd Field Ambulance, 24th Division, records for 21.3.1918, -that Driver Griffiths ASC' showed great devotion to duty and courage in driving his car whose body was mostly blown away leaving a skeleton frame and the radiator was penetrated, in spite of which he brought back 8 sitting wounded 4 of whom were unable to walk.' (13 men were missing this day from this RAMC unit, which was caught up in the opening of the German offensive near St.Quentin. (TNA WO95/2202)

Michael

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I certainly wasn't trying to minimize the notion that it was dangerous!

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Citation: Kent Hagler: "An extremely courageous driver. During the fighting which raged between the 7th of July and 16 of August 1918 he transported numerous casualties for who he went to search in the front line, this mission was accomplishedon roads being violently shelled, by his absolute dedication and the speed of his intervention he saved the lives of numerous wounded men" (my translation)

 

 

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