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RAMC Diss 1914-1918


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Hello

Can anyone help me please.

In 1914 Diss became the head quarters of the North Midland Mounted Brigade. Various yeomanry units were subsequently stationed there on Coastal defence duties over the succeeding months, including the 1/1st Staffordshire Yeomanry, 1/1st Leicestershire Yeomanry and the Welsh Horse Yeomanry.

Contemporary newspaper reports state that the R.A.M.C. requisitioned, on an informal basis, the newly established local Red Cross V.A.D. Hospital for their own use to treat wounded soldiers units and the V.A.D. activities there were suspended until  1915.

How do I find out which R.A.M.C  unit was running it. The Officer in charge, as given in the local paper, was Major James Charles Gordon Carmichael. 56762

Any help would be much appreciated.

Thanks

Armypal

 

 

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4 hours ago, armypal said:

1/1st Staffordshire Yeomanry, 1/1st Leicestershire Yeomanry

 

According to the Long, Long Trail, (always a good place to start :)), the 1/1st Staffordshire Yeomanry and the 1/1st Leicestershire Battery, Royal Horse Artillery were at Diss as part of the North Midland Mounted Brigade, itself part of the 1st Mounted Division. Medical support to the Brigade was provided by North Midland Mounted Brigade Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps.

https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/order-of-battle-of-divisions/1st-mounted-division/

 

I'm not convinced all the entries on that page are correct, but there is no mention of the 1/1st Leicestershire Yeomanry being present, although the 2/1st and the Brigade it was part of arrived later to replace units that had sailed for Gallipoli. The make up of the Division is incredbly fluid - it might even be a case of going through month by month to work out who was where during the time you were interested in.

 

The LLT page for the Leicestershire Yeomanry only has them in Norfolk for a few months before going to France at the start of November 1914.

https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-yeomanry-regiments-of-1914-1918/leicestershire-yeomanry/

 

The 1/1st Welsh Horse weren't in Norfolk, but I believe the 2/1st was another unit that arrived later. The edition of the Norwich Mercury dated Saturday January 2, 1915 has a picture with the caption "WELSH HORSE AT DISS - The headquarters of A Squadron of the Welsh Horse are the King’s Head Hotel, Diss, and this photo shows them just as they were ready to begin dinner on Christmas Day."

 

Having had a look at a few articles in the Diss Express, the County Red Cross still seem to be in control of the hospital and donations are still being sought to support it's work - it's just that the wounded and sick of the Territorial Force have first call on it's beds. Checking out the British Red Cross site and searching for Diss I came across several nurses, including Mrs Maud Alden https://vad.redcross.org.uk/Card?hosp=Diss&id=1757

and Miss Isabella Donaldson Brown https://vad.redcross.org.uk/Card?hosp=Diss&page=2&id=29324

who continued working there throughout as nurses. They certainly don't appear to have been replaced by R.A.M.C. orderlies.

 

As a V.A.D. \ Red Cross Hospital I would expect there to be either an onsite RAMC Doctor presence or a shared one if it was non surgical \ non-emergency. Day to day administration of such a hospital would usually remain in civilian hands but concessions would be made to the need for military discipline to be maintained.

5 hours ago, armypal said:

Major James Charles Gordon Carmichael.

 

The RAMC did start the war with one Major James Charles Gordon Carmichael but he was providing medical support in Malta, and would remain there until he went to France in 1917.

https://www.maltaramc.com/ramcoff/c/carmichaeljcg.html

This is the only likely candidate for a man who has a MiC - but of course if it was another individual and they remained in the UK throughout, then most likely no MiC.

However, the only London Gazette references I'm getting to commissioning & promotions all seem to relate to the Malta\France man.

I'm not finding reference to any officer papers for even one, let alome two officers with that name.

A check of the index for the December 1914 Monthly Army List shows only one J.C.G. Carmichael. https://digital.nls.uk/british-military-lists/archive/104765713

 

Is there a specific dated for when the other Major James Charles Gordon Carmichael was in charge at Diss - I may simply be looking in the wrong places.

 

Cheers,

Peter

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Hello Peter

Many thanks once again for all your help with solving my questions about the units serving in Diss  and making ne aware that it was the North Midland Mounted Brigade Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps who were in Diss.

 

I have looked through my notes to date and found that both the1/1st Leicestershire Yeomanry and 1/1st Leicestershire Battery Royal Horse Artillery  and the 1/1st Welsh Yeomanry were  in Diss during 1914/1915. Though the Leicestershire's were only there for a a brief period, before the Welsh arrived. Many of the Leicestershire men, who had been there met a very unpleasant end in France and few were left. The casualty list makes unpleasant reading, as is usual.

 

  The use of the hospital by the R.A.M.C. /Red Cross is confusing, but the Red Cross records which you mention have been very useful in working out staffing. It would appear from press reports that the R.A.M.C. were there using it as their own from September 1914 to January 1915.There were definitely members  of the local Red Cross V.A.D.  on the staff there during this time. 

 

I can only assume that the North Midland Mounted Brigade relinquished it in 1915, though there were 1st line mounted troops in Diss until at least August 1915, when they departed for Gallipoli, and 2nd line troops replaced them. With earlier help, last year from Steven John regarding troops in Diss, I found that three of the 1/1st Welsh Horse were sadly killed in 1915.

 

Major Carmichael appears to have been in charge in November 1915, but no initials are given for him. He really is a mystery. It was then being used as a relief hospital for Thorpe War Hospital.

 

Thanks again

Armypal

 

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26 minutes ago, armypal said:

  The use of the hospital by the R.A.M.C. /Red Cross is confusing, but the Red Cross records which you mention have been very useful in working out staffing. It would appear from press reports that the R.A.M.C. were there using it as their own from September 1914 to January 1915.There were definitely members  of the local Red Cross V.A.D.  on the staff there during this time. 

 

I may be mis-reading those reports, but from what the head of the Norfolk Red Cross was saying, the use of the facility at Diss for military casualties and sick coming from the continent was suspended in favour of treating men from the locally quartered Territorial Force units. Effectively it was being taken offline to ensure some facilities remained available to treat the civilian population of Diss rather than push them to third place in the pecking order.

 

Both the Norfolk War Hospital, (the old County Asylum) and the Norwich War Hospital, (the old N&N) farmed out widely those men who were most likely no longer in need of immediate surgical care but not yet ready for convalescence and rest camps. If their condition deteriorated they could be rushed back in. Unfortunately judging from the volume of Coroners Inquests, the number of fatal errors in making those judgement calls as to who could be farmed out was regretably high.

 

So possibly it's just a question of semantics, as I suspect the Diss Red Cross Hospital remained under a Civilian administrator and with a civilian nursing staff. The Territorial Force RAMC didn't commandeer the whole hospital and staff it themselves, they just had first call on the use of the beds and facilities. Any RAMC presence was likely to be the permanent staff - men like Major Carmichael - and irrelevant to the RAMC units stationed in the area. They would have been in addition to the civilian doctors and surgeons.

 

44 minutes ago, armypal said:

Major Carmichael appears to have been in charge in November 1915,

 

Other than J.C.G. Carmichael, the choice from the December 1915 Monthly Army List is

 

Major D.G. Carmichael. M.B. - seniority from the 31st October 1914, (Column 1688) https://digital.nls.uk/british-military-lists/archive/103912544

(Note that is the same date of seniority as J.C.G. Carmichael)

There is a Medal Index Card for a Major, later Lieutenant-Colonel Donald Gordon Carmichael.  The MiC details don't exactly rule him out - he was serving with the 1st Field Ambulance on the North West Frontier of India from December 1914, but as he only did Garrison service overseas, he only qualified for the British War Medal. So nothing there to say he didn't come back to the UK by the end of 1915, but nothing to say he did. I'm not seeing any Officer records in the National Archives, but he could have stayed in the Army post war.

 

The Norfolk Library account on FindMyPast is locked out now until March, so I can only see search results, not actual documents. Looking at this preview snippet from the Diss Express from December 3 1915 he is described as Medical Officer at the Hospital - not Military Adminstrator or Hospital Commandant.

 

799714307_ScreenshotMajorCarmichaelDissExpressDecember31915sourcedFMP.png.e569bec2601ea1f3c36aabd13e17ca2c.png

(Image sourced courtesy FindMyPast)

 

Medical Officer is what I'd expect to see for such RAMC men assigned to a Civil facility like the hospital at Diss. Undoubtedly in most hospitals they got the priority facilities and resources but that is not the same as being in charge.

 

Cheers,

Peter

 

 

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Thankyou for all your kind help Peter.

 

I have a better understanding of the role of the R.A.M.C. in Diss now and their involvement with the hospital.

 

From what I have read in the paper there seemed to be a bit of an issue between the Red Cross and the R.A.M.C. over the use of the hospital and it was very interesting to read about what the head of the red Cross said. Did you find this in the Norwich Mercury?

 

There were soldiers from abroad there in 1916, as I have recently acquired a post card with a group of them on it.  Your comment about the larger hospitals discharging patients to smaller hospitals and the consequences of this really shocked me, I had no idea!

 

Once again thanks.

Armypal

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On 18/02/2021 at 13:44, armypal said:

From what I have read in the paper there seemed to be a bit of an issue between the Red Cross and the R.A.M.C. over the use of the hospital and it was very interesting to read about what the head of the red Cross said. Did you find this in the Norwich Mercury?

 

It was in one of the newspapers available via FindMyPast, so probably Diss Express. I'll check it out when I can get back in again in March as there are a number of potential mentions in late 1914 & 1915.

 

Cheers,

Peter

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Hi Peter

Thanks so much, it's very kind of you.

I really appreciate all your help.

Cheers 

Armypal 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi @armypal,

 

I think this was the article I meant - a letter from the County Director of the Red Cross Society which appeared the edition of the Diss Express dated December 11, 1914, and talks about the work of all the V.A.D. hospitals and responds to queries about whether additional ones will be needed by running down what the currently existing facilities were doing.

 

The key bits for me are:-

 

""Despite the spendidly useful work which these V.A.D. temporary hospitals have done for the wounded men from the Expeditionary Forces, it should be borne in mind that this is not the proper function for which the voluntary aid movement was called into being. Our detachments and their hospitals were organised to render aid to the casualties arising from the hostilities in England in the event of a hostile invasion or raid."

 

It goes on to list Red Cross voluntary aid detachment hospitals in use for the treatment of the sick and wounded. After which it states:-

 

"Mention also must be made of the Diss Red Cross Hospital, which has been at work since September 9th with casualties from the Territorial force;"

 

So my take from the letter - written by someone with day to day responsiility for running the system - would be:-

1. The Red Cross Hospitals and associated VAD units were not intended to take military casualties.

2. Having spare capacity and with the main hospital system overwhelmed, they had taken up the slack.

3. Diss Red Cross Hospital was not included in the pool of facilities available to take the sick and wounded from France.

4. All the facilities remained under civil control and in fact the Red Cross were also supporting RAMC run facilities when they were short of supplies.

 

Other interpretations may be equally valid!

 

1681167596_DissExpress11December1914p5WarHospitalsinNorfolksourcedFMPcrop.jpg.16a2758e54bfd630d4e8f2accf41764c.jpg

(Image courtesy FindMyPast)

 

Cheers,

Peter

 

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