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Buffnut453

Red Cross Volunteer Became RASC MT Driver - Help Needed

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Buffnut453

I believe one of my (many) distant cousins, William James Gamble, was a Red Cross volunteer ambulance driver but I'm confused over some of the conflicting info available in the (few) surviving records.

 

His Red Cross record indicates an engagement from January 1915 thru January 1917:

William James Gamble - Red Cross Volunteer Record.jpg

 

 

I also found some interesting detail on one of his 2 medal rolls.  This one, titled "British Red Cross Society and Order of St.John Qualifying on Subsequent Service", appears to give more specific dates for his Red Cross service and also gives the date of his transfer to the RASC as an MT driver:

Medal Roll Segment, William James Gamble (Red Cross Volunteer and RASC Pte M-298051).jpg

 

I also have another Medal Roll as well as his MIC for his subsequent RASC service.

 

I have a number of questions about his time as a Red Cross volunteer:

  1. Why the discrepancy between his engagement and the details on his Medal Roll?  Would his time between January 1915 and 28 January 1916 have been spent in the UK?
  2. Am I correct in assuming that the dates on his Medal Roll specifically identify the time he spent in France (presumably at St.Omer, as per his Red Cross card)?
  3. Is there any way to identify what organization he may have been affiliated with while in St.Omer?
  4. What may have prompted the change from Red Cross Volunteer to RASC MT Driver?  Was it simply a case that his conscription number came up and the Army (unusually) put him back into the exact same role he'd been working as a volunteer?
  5. Is there any way to identify which RASC Company he served in? 

 

Any and all help with the above questions would be gratefully received.

 

Many thanks,
Mark

Edited by Buffnut453

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Buffnut453

In the absence of any responses, I'm going to nudge this back to the top of the queue in hopes of getting something.

 

Anyone out there know anything about British Red Cross ambulance drivers?  Google returns bucketloads of info about American ambulance drivers but precious little about British Red Cross volunteers.

 

Any and all insights, even tangential ones, would be most welcome.

 

Cheers,
Mark

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Dai Bach y Sowldiwr
On 26/10/2018 at 14:09, Buffnut453 said:

Is there any way to identify which RASC Company he served in?

Unless you can find a service record, I'm afraid the chances of doing that are slim.

If there's a surviving Absent Voters List, then that could list his ASC company at mid 1918.

Edited by Dai Bach y Sowldiwr

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Buffnut453
54 minutes ago, Dai Bach y Sowldiwr said:

Unless you can find a service record, I'm afraid the chances of doing that are slim.

If there's a surviving Absent Voters List, then that could list his ASC company at mid 1918.

 

Yeah...that's what I expected.  It would be interesting to see if his ASC number matches the dates on his Red Cross card (assuming, of course, that there's any logical correlation between ASC service numbers and enlistment dates).

 

Since his ASC number indicates MT driver, I'm guessing he carried on doing pretty much the same job that he'd done in the Red Cross...driving ambulances around.  However, with the ASC I suppose he would be more likely to get closer to the front.  

 

I've not found anything about Red Cross ambulance drivers, except the great amount of coverage given to American drivers.  Did British Red Cross ambulance drivers wear a khaki uniform?  Would they be solely focused on shuttling the seriously injured around the rear areas?  To be honest, I'm looking for ANY info about Red Cross ambulance drivers 'cos my Google-fu just wasn't finding much.

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Dai Bach y Sowldiwr

Gardenerbill has done a lot of research into the relationship between  ASC numbers & dates of attestation.

Unfortunately, I can't find his posts relating to this at the moment.

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Buffnut453

I'll have a dig around myself to see if anything comes up.

 

In the meantime, anyone out there know of any books or other research resources about the British Red Cross in France, particularly regarding ambulance drivers?  Surely there has to be SOMETHING out there?

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JulianR

https://vad.redcross.org.uk/

 

https://www.redcross.org.uk/about-us/our-history/museum-and-archives

 

If you have not seen these two sites, then here is a start.  I am not aware of any books specifically about Red Cross Drivers, although you might want to read the Medical History of the war and he what Macpherson says.

 

The only book I know of about civilian volunteers is Train Errant   

Anon. A Train Errant: Being the Experiences of a Voluntary Unit in France & an Anthology from Their Magazine. 1st Ed., viii+330pp., 4to, col. frontis., approx. 60 drawings & sketches (some col.)., fldg. map. Printed by Simson & Co., Hertford. 1919. (History & souvenir of Ambulance Train No. 16, operated by the Friends Ambulance Unit in France from Aug. 1915-Nov. 1918 & after, with much on the Battle of the Somme &c.)

Julian

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Gardenerbill

I must have missed this first time around. A date of allocation of 15-02-1917 (see medal roll) for the number M/298051 is consistent with dates for other near numbers, it is not possible to determine which unit he served with from this number, the ASC numbers were not allocated to companies in blocks, but to individuals at the start of their engagement.

 

In 'Army Service Corps 1902 1918' by Michael Young page 54, 419 Company (No2 Motor Ambulance Convoy) was formed October 1914 by the joint war committee of the British Red Cross and the Order of St John of Jerusalem using converted private cars and volunteer drivers. There were 4 of these Motor Ambulance convoys 418 Company (No1 Motor Ambulance Convoy) was created from cars and volunteer drivers of the Wolseley Motor Company. The other two being 420 Company (No3 Motor Ambulance Convoy) and 421 Company (No4 Motor Ambulance Convoy) unfortunately ti doesn't say whether these two were also manned by volunteer drivers.

 

His Red Cross card with its reference to St Omer suggests he served as a volunteer in France before joining the ASC, as he was a volunteer paid by the Red Cross this period probably doesn't count for medal entitlement. On the medal roll there is a reference to 2 cards, I can only find the ASC card, so it could refer to the Red Cross one. The ASC card has a theatre reference number 1a for France.

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Dai Bach y Sowldiwr

Thanks GB,

Are your old posts showing the link between dates and numbers still active?

If they are, would you  be kind enough to post  a link? I just can't find them.

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Buffnut453
3 hours ago, Gardenerbill said:

I must have missed this first time around. A date of allocation of 15-02-1917 (see medal roll) for the number M/298051 is consistent with dates for other near numbers, it is not possible to determine which unit he served with from this number, the ASC numbers were not allocated to companies in blocks, but to individuals at the start of their engagement.

 

In 'Army Service Corps 1902 1918' by Michael Young page 54, 419 Company (No2 Motor Ambulance Convoy) was formed October 1914 by the joint war committee of the British Red Cross and the Order of St John of Jerusalem using converted private cars and volunteer drivers. There were 4 of these Motor Ambulance convoys 418 Company (No1 Motor Ambulance Convoy) was created from cars and volunteer drivers of the Wolseley Motor Company. The other two being 420 Company (No3 Motor Ambulance Convoy) and 421 Company (No4 Motor Ambulance Convoy) unfortunately ti doesn't say whether these two were also manned by volunteer drivers.

 

His Red Cross card with its reference to St Omer suggests he served as a volunteer in France before joining the ASC, as he was a volunteer paid by the Red Cross this period probably doesn't count for medal entitlement. On the medal roll there is a reference to 2 cards, I can only find the ASC card, so it could refer to the Red Cross one. The ASC card has a theatre reference number 1a for France.

 

Many thanks GB.  That post provided a lot of useful info to start me off on the right direction.  The simple definition of the term "Motor Ambulance Convoy" resulted in a number of search results I hadn't seen previously, including one reference to a book about the British Red Cross in France circa 1916 which, while unlikely to mention my relative, may well provide some useful background context.

 

I'm not surprised that regimental numbers don't align with unit allocations...but it was still worth the ask.  Sometimes, unusual patterns do emerge, such as when units are disbanded and the soldiers transferred en masse to other regiments.  That's why I wondered whether my relative's transfer to the ASC from the British Red Cross was part of a wider movement at that time or was it just a case of his number coming up on the conscription lottery.

 

Thanks again for responding.  I do appreciate the expertise so many on this forum have amassed, and which they're willing to share with neophytes like me.

 

Kind regards,
Mark

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Gardenerbill
17 hours ago, Dai Bach y Sowldiwr said:

Thanks GB,

Are your old posts showing the link between dates and numbers still active?

If they are, would you  be kind enough to post  a link? I just can't find them.

Dai,
The topic with my ASC number posts is here:

 

I only got as far as the Derby scheme, when it all got very messy.

 

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Gardenerbill

As I said in the post above I haven't done much work on the numbers after the Derby scheme, however when I looked at the OPs number (M/298051) I noticed something odd.
The number was allocated in February 1917 as were other near numbers, but my Grandfather was allocated number M/280525, a lower number, in April 1917. All the numbers near my Grandfathers were also allocated in April 1917 but crucially they were all transfers from Infantry battalions. Something for me to look at next time there is an Ancestry free weekend.

 

If there was a mass transfer of volunteer ambulance drivers to the ASC you would expect this to be reflected in the medal roll page in post #1 but that is not the case, evidence perhaps that the man was conscripted.

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Dai Bach y Sowldiwr

Thanks GB,

No wonder I couldn't find it, I was mislead, cos I thought you'd started the thread!

 

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