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Remembered Today:

Trying to identify a uniform

seb phillips

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Hi folks,


I'm doing to research into a relative who served with the RAMC.  His service record was one of those destroyed in WW2 bombing, so I'm not sure what capacity he served in. 


We do have a photograph, and I was wondering if there's anything to indicate whether he would have been a stretcher bearer or an ambulance driver?



grandpa and two friends.jpg

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The photographs are of RAMC Soldiers, so an orderly not a driver. Ambulances both, horse drawn and motorised were driven by the Army Service Corps attached to the Field Ambulances or the Motor Ambulance Convoys. Note that they are wearing cloth shoulder titles and it looks as if the bottom word might be 'Midland' . I am sure Barbara Janman can tell which units had cloth titles because I do not have my uniform reference files to hand.

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They're Territorials (the badge over the breast pocket is the Imperial Service badge, indicating they had volunteered to serve overseas). They also display a lovely cloth shoulder title, which will have some people drooling! (There's a separate thread on pre-war cloth titles) The title will identify them very nicely - looks like South Midland to me, but I'm no expert.

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Yup, they were with the 2/3 South Midland Field Ambulance. I'm trying to get more details about how one of them won an MM at Wieltje, 17th August 1917. His service record is gone, the medal card is in the National Archives but I can find any more details in the London Gazette. I've looked at the units diary for that period and it's not very detailed. So I'm at the stage of trying to piece together some basic details about what he could have done. Family history said he lied about being able to ride and ended up driving a horse drawn ambulance in 1915, but what Petestarling has said makes me wonder if he was a stretcher bearer instead?

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Seb, your opening post was a bit confusing: I assumed (as did petestarling, I suspect) that you wanted help identifying the uniforms.


THIS is the explanation from the Long, Long Trail about what a Field Ambulance would have done.


Another route to finding detail of how he might have won his gong is to look at local newspapers and see if there's anything there

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Sorry, I didn't make that clear. But your comments have been very helpful, especially Pete's about the fact he wouldn't have been a driver, and yours about the Imperial Service Badge (which I didn't recognise).


Local papers. Of course. Should have thought of that.


many thanks,



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RAMC were not stretcher bearers as such, they were First or Second Class Orderlies, with specialised training. That is not to say that they did not carry a stretcher or two, but the formally recognised stretcher bearers were infantrymen [and other fighting arms] able to carry weapons and wearing an SB armband.

Although RAMC were rifle-trained, the defence of an RAMC unit was in the hands of the Army Service Corps soldiers whose prime duty was driving the unit vehicles.

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How far on have you looked in the war diary? I have found that in some field ambulance war diaries the day the award was announced sometimes gives details of why the award was made.

Hopefully Barbara may have something.

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Muerrisch .  Your comment is not really a fact ?. By early 1915 the RAMC was actively recuiting men to their  "Bearer corps" " They had there own training course . With its own text book "The Stretcher bearer", With the strength training being done at Box hill in surrey and the continuation training being done at the Cambridge in Aldershot. Which is slightly different from  "carried a stretcher or two" . As I understand it the Regimental stretcher bearers carried to the  RAP, then it was the responsiblity of the RAMC to move casualties down the line and as the RAP was generally just at the front line and it could be a goodlly distance to the next place of transfer .There was some hard core stretcher carrying done by the men  of THE RAMC. To that end "A  Field Ambulance at full strength composed of 10 Officers and 224 men. The Bearer Division had 18 stretcher squads each of 6 men" . So almost half the number were designated as Stretcher bearers .

Edited by MaleVAD
Crap spelling
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The work of the RAMC Bearer Parties was, as MaleVAD says, to clear the wounded from the RAP's to the Advanced Dressing Stations and sometimes beyond that. It was also their task, after an advance when the RAP's had moved on, to clear any remaining wounded from the battlefield. A party of 6 bearers carrying one stretcher would take about an hour to cover a mile from RAP to ADS and return (RAMC Training 1911 revised 1914) in dry conditions. When under fire and/or in in inclement weather this time could take much longer as well as being a little more than somewhat hazardous.

Edited by squirrel
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Gentlemen I bow to your superior knowledge but have two questions before taking the discussion further:


did the RAMC gentlemen of the bearer companies wear a Geneva Cross brassard, or an SB stretcher bearer's brassard?


and were said RAMC men able to be armed, as SBs were?

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Trying to establish the service history of a RAMC (TF) man I'm interested in, who doesn't have a surviving service file, but seems/may have served both with a London General Hospital and overseas in some capacity - I'm interested in the stats. Am I right in assuming that, at full compliment, a bearer division had (18 squads at 6 men per squad =) 108 men, and that a division had 3 FAs ( at 224 ORs per FA =) 672 men? If so, that would seem to make it about a 1 in 5/ 20% ratio. Irrespective of an individuals role, I think that RAMC men should be lauded for their efforts in attending to the wounded, and caring for those in their final moments.




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Muerrisch , They wore the RAMC Red cross badge on each arm and then a Red cross arm band as and when required. and not armed , There is a great poem which i cant find as this moment. and also one whose title is the "Red Cross Bloke" which always brings a tear to

my eye.

CLK . The chap could easily have been an orderly in a Uk base hospital . The RAMC had a massive growth in numbers from around 9000 at the beginning of the war and having to give over hospitals whole sale to the St Johns Ambulance to around 110,000 by the end .

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The 5 out of every 6 bearers of the bearer sub-divisions of a Field Ambulance were allowed to be "specially enlisted". Does this imply that they were less well trained than the other privates of a Fd Amb? The other job descriptions of RAMC privates in a unit include wagon orderlies, nursing duties, clerk, cook, washerman, bicycle orderly, orderly for CO, supernumeraries, bugler.


RAMC privates received basic regimental daily pay of 1/2- [2d more than an infantryman] but could earn Corps Pay in addition. A First-class orderly received an extra 8d , and a second-class 6d. Both the above were entitled to distinguishing badges which appear not to have been worn in SD uniform.


One wonders if the specially enlisted bearers were among the less well trained and less well paid.


My library is not very helpful: the excellent "The Long Carry" by Frank Dunham is the story of an infantry SB of course. I have RAMC Training 19111/14 but the index gives little hope that detailed training anht be found.d collateral for RAMC bearers mig

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RAMC Training 1911 revised 1914 - page 190 para 361: The Geneva Convention July 6th 1906 takes the place of the Geneva Convention of August 22nd 1864...


para 362 ... As regimental stretcher bearers are not exclusively engaged in the care of the wounded, they are not entitled, as such, to protection under the Convention or to wear the Red Cross brassard.


para 363 The protection afforded to the personnel of medical units is not forfeited by the fact that they carry weapons for self defence, or hold the arms and ammunition of the wounded who are under their care.

In the convention of 1864, these points were not clearly expressed, and the protection was only given when sick or wounded were actually found with the medical unit. In the new Convention the protection is granted in all circumstances.


Geneva Convention of July 6th 1906 (translation)

Chapter II - Medical Units and Establishments

Article 6

Mobile Medical Units (that is to say, those which are intended to accompany armies in to the field) and the fixed establishments of the medical service shall be respected and protected by the beligerents.

Article 7

The protection to which medical units and establishments are entitled ceases if they are made use of to commit acts harmful to the enemy.

Article 8 

The following facts are not considered to be of a nature to deprive a medical unit or establishment of the protection guaranteed by Article 6:-

1. That the personnel of the unit or of the establishment is armed, and that it uses its arms for its own defence or for the sick and wounded under its charge.

2. That in default of armed orderlies the unit or establishment is guarded by a picquet or sentinels furnished with an authority in due form.

3.That weapons and cartridges taken from the wounded and not yet handed over to the proper department are found in the unit or establishment.


Article 9

The personnel engaged exclusively in the collection, transport, and treatment of the wounded and the sick, as well as in the administration of medical units and establishments, and the Chaplains attached to armies shall be regarded and protected under all circumstances. If they fall into the hands of the enemy they shall not be treated as prisoners of war. These provisions apply to the guard of medical units and establishments under the circumstances indicated in Article 8 (2).


Chapter VI - The Distinctive Emblem

Article 18

As a compliment to Switzerland, the heraldic emblem of the red cross on a white ground, formed by reversing the Federal colours, is retained as the emblem and distinctive sign of the medical services of armies.


Article 19

With the permission of the competent military authority this emblem shall be shown on the flags and armlets (brassards) as well as on all material belonging to the medical services.


Article 20

The personnel protected in pursuance of Article 9 (paragraph 1), 10, and 11, shall wear, fixed to the left arm, an armlet (brassard) with a red cross on a white ground, delivered and stamped by the competent military authority, and accompanied by a certificate of identity in the case of persons who are attached to the medical service of armies, but who have not a military uniform.



Edited by squirrel
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Just had another look through the RAMC Training Manual 1911 (revised 1914) - the Training Syllabus starting on page 10 is so detailed and covers so many facets of the work of the RAMC that I somehow doubt that all NCO's and Private soldiers undertook the whole of it. Long serving Senior NCO's perhaps... 

I should think that training was selective depending on the particular role that the individual was assigned to.

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On 8/18/2017 at 23:16, MaleVAD said:

 , There is a great poem which i cant find as this moment. 



This ?


The stretcher bearer (1916)

Tommy Crawford


My stretcher is one scarlet stain,
And as I tries to scrape it clean,
I tell you what – I’m sick of pain,
For all I’ve heard, for all I’ve seen;
Around me is the hellish night,
And as the war’s red rim I trace,
I wonder if in Heaven’s height
Our God don’t turn away his face.

I don’t care whose the crime may be,
I hold no brief for kin or clan;
I feel no hate, I only see
As man destroys his brother man;
I wave no flag, I only know
As here beside the dead I wait,
A million hearts are weighed with woe,
A million homes are desolate.

In dripping darkness far and near,
All night I’ve sought those woeful ones.
Dawn suddens up and still I hear
The crimson chorus of the guns.
Look, like a ball of blood the sun
Hangs o’er the scene of wrath and wrong,
“Quick! Stretcher-bearers on the run!”,
Oh Prince of Peace! How long, how long?”


Or this, "To Stretcher Bearers"


by Woodbine Willie, (Padre Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy)


Easy does it — bit o' trench 'ere,
Mind that blinkin' bit o' wire,
There's a shell 'ole on your left there,
Lift 'im up a little 'igher.
Stick it, lad, ye'll soon be there now,
Want to rest 'ere for a while?
Let 'im dahn then — gently — gently,
There ye are, lad. That's the style.
Want a drink, mate? 'Ere's my bottle,
Lift 'is 'ead up for 'im, Jack,
Put my tunic underneath 'im,
'Ow's that, chummy? That's the tack!
Guess we'd better make a start now,
Ready for another spell?
Best be goin', we won't 'urt ye,
But 'e might just start to shell.
Are ye right, mate? Off we goes then.
That's well over on the right,
Gawd Almighty, that's a near 'un!
'Old your end up good and tight,
Never mind, lad, you're for Blighty,
Mind this rotten bit o' board.

We'll soon 'ave ye tucked in bed, lad,
'Opes ye gets to my old ward.
No more war for you, my 'earty,
This'll get ye well away,
Twelve good months in dear old Blighty,
Twelve good months if you're a day,
M.O.'s got a bit o' something
What'll stop that blarsted pain.
'Ere's a rotten bit o' ground, mate,
Lift up 'igher — up again,
Wish 'e'd stop 'is blarsted shellin'
Makes it rotten for the lad.
When a feller's been and got it,
It affec's 'im twice as bad.
'Ow's it goin' now then, sonny?
'Ere's that narrow bit o' trench,
Careful, mate, there's some dead Jerries,
Lawd Almighty, what a stench!
'Ere we are now, stretcher-case, boys,
Bring him aht a cup o' tea!

Inasmuch as ye have done it
Ye have done it unto Me. 






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