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Help required to determine RAMC Unit


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Hi - I've been desperately trying to identify which unit my great grandfather William Phipps served in; but at each stage I've drawn a blank. I believe his service number is 27905 (Medal Index Cards); He is from Aberbeeg, Abertillery in Monmouth. He volunteered and was a corporal in the RAMC by early to mid 1915 (another source image) and according to someone else's research (based on the absent voters list) he was serving in a Casualty Clearing Station in 1918. As far as the physical evidence I have suggests, he was in Palestine and possibly Egypt. His nearest recruitment station was for the 1st Welsh Field Ambulance in Ebbw Vale, but he does have ties to Swansea, so maybe there with the 3rd? From what I've read, the service numbers changed to 6 digits beginning with a '3' before the end of the war - his is 5 on the MIC and rolls. I can tell from his MIC that he must have served abroad after 1916 as he doesn't have the either the 14 star or the 14-15 star medals. The pictorial evidence I have is sketchy, but I have included the picture below to see whether it's possible to identify any of the other men in his unit. My great grandfather is front row, 4th from the right. If you need any other information and I can provide it, please let me know. Thanks in advance

RAMC Unit.jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...

Photo's at Bulford on Salisbury Plain, maybe a part of a Section of a new Field Ambulance in training and prior to Division shipping out in 1916 ?

1 Sergeant/2 Corporals/1 Lance Corporal/20 Privates.

No service papers seen to help you out ! See that he was resident (age 33) with wife Edna in Glencoe Terrace Aberbeeg in 1911 Census and working as a Stationary Engine Driver, possibly a colliery worker as I notice in the 1939 Register that he was a Colliery Winding Engineer. So he turns to being a Medical Corporal in the war, so wonder if he was a TA medic pre-war with maybe some training within his civilian occupation too, particularly as a first aider (?) if in a colliery.

You may have to delve into news archives for the Abertillery area for the 1916 period to see if he is mentioned as going off to war.

Edited by sotonmate
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The re-numbering of the RAMC had its own idiosyncrasies, best explained here:  https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/soldiers/a-soldiers-life-1914-1918/renumbering-of-the-territorial-force-in-1917/renumbering-the-tf-royal-army-medical-corps-in-1917/


From this you can see that a number of units, including the 3 Welsh FAs did not renumber.  However, none of these were in Egypt/Palestine, all in 38 Div on the Western Front throughout. Which CCS was it he was in in 1918, that might help?.



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Thank you both for your guidance and insight into my predicament. I wondered whether there may have been a requirement for First Aid knowledge as the colliery winder; it could perhaps explain how he was a corporal by mid 1915 after enlisting at some point after November 1914. He was also relatively old, so perhaps his age/experience gave him the people skills to progress through the ranks quickly. The information on the RAMC is very interesting - thank you for providing the link. Looking at his number, it wasn't changed into the format of the others listed which had saved in Egypt/Palestine. I know he was in that location as I have photos of him in the desert and postcard/photos from the region he sent back home. It's so confusing though. Unfortunately I don't know which CCS he served in either.


Thanks Iain 

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Can’t help with unit overseas but 27895 Hatton was also a miner from Monmouth and enlisted as a Special Reservist for Home Service in the RAMC on the 4th November 1914 at Bulford.  He was aged 46 and had previously served in the Army.  In common with many other miners he held a St John’s Ambulance first aid qualification. Although enlisted for Home Service he was posted to France in 1915 and transferred to the MMP which is where his service diverges from your g-gfather.

27914 Tingley also attested on the 4th November at Bulford, he was younger, from Brighton  and an ironmonger’s assistant  but he did hold a St John’s Ambulance qualification.  His attestation was also for Home Service, and for six months.  His records show he was posted to 20 Company at Bulford.  I think this must have been a Training unit, in any event Tingley was discharged as medically unfit in February 1915.

27915 Williams Pontypridd Glamorganshire a miner, attested  4/11/1914 six month’s home service as above. 20 Company again.  He also held a St John’s Ambulance qualification.

In November 1915 posted to 28 General Hospital Salonika.


It may be Hatton was enlisted on a Special Reserve form as they were running out of attestation forms, each one was amended in one way or another.


So I guess your g-gfather enlisted 4 November at Bulford and held a St John’s Ambulance qualification and the photograph as identified above at Bulford was of 20 Company, though that’s not a designation I’m familiar with and needs further research. It's possible it was a unit formed from members of the St John's Ambulance Brigade who provided nearly 6000 men in the first two months of the war.  This does seem to be the one common denominator.

It also seems likely he initially enlisted for Home Service for a period of six months.  One newspaper report in September 1914 noted that 'special qualifications are needed for enlistment in the RAMC, a superficial knowledge of V.A.D. work is not sufficient.'


 If he had gone to Salonika with Williams he would have qualified for the 14-15 Star so once again there is divergence.


Although enlisted for Home Service none of these men enlisted as TF soldiers and where previous military experience is mentioned it was as a time served regular soldier.  This is why his number did not change throughout his service as it was effectively a regular enlistment, albeit a rather odd one.  Having said that one man who enlisted under the sam terms a week or so later was discharged in 1917 for refusing General Service.








Edited by kenf48
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  • 3 months later...

Off piste a little, but here's some further info on Hatton you may find interesting. He originally served with the 9th Lancers (No 3332) - enlisted 11th August 1891 - awarded QSA with clasps Cape Colony, Johannesburg, Wittebergen, Diamond Hill. He transferred to MMP on 18th January 1915. Tried by FGCM at Rouen on 1st May 1918 for using insubordinate language to a superior Officer - almost certainly as a result of this, he was transferred to the Labour Corps No 422990 on 5th June 1918.  





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