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RAMC: researching Wilfred Lawton


Guest Andrew Lawton
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Just fired an copy of my transcription of Aug 1914 War Diary for No 1 Field Ambulance off. If anyone else is interested please PM an email to me. The file is pdf, but a little large to post here I think.

I would like to work a timeline summary into the overview of each month I transcribe. This is to place the context in which the unit is operating. The mobilization and retreat from Mons are the obvious events of August. Although Maj Hinge describes how he is operating No 1 FA with each section operating as a seperate ambulance, he is not so clear about when this overload slacks. I think one or both of the other 1st Div FAs had arrived by the end of Aug 14.

I would be interested in suggestions of where to look for background on RAMC during the Great War. Being on the western end of the Canadian colonies does not make it easy to get to locations that carry specialized press publications ;-) I would be particularly interested in suggestions for publications I can order or possibly locate locally (in Vancouver).

Some of the acronyms and terms are still catching me - I don't know what the "SR" stands for after some officer names. I would like to find out more of the operational details of a FA. I presume they stayed fairly closely attached to "their" Brigade and would have moved through advanced, support and reserve positions? If so how did this affect their duties in each role? How did they handle leave back to England, Paris, etc? I know my grandfather came back on leave, but I have no idea how often that occured. Was leave always coordinated with time in reserve positions? How much could a FA drop in strength (through leave or casualities) and still function sufficiently effectively? I see quite a lot of movement on TD, and some times when substantial numbers of bearers of drawn from regiments being supported. Was this being done to handle shortages in FAs or anticipated volume in casualties? Some days the throughput in casualities is staggering! Using basic arithmetic to see how 3 or more times the strength of a FA can pass through easily shows the magnitude of the task.

Thanks for comments and help.

John

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Hywyn,

I have certainly seen the web pages you mention. I've been watching them for quite a few years and am impressed with the work behind them - and how well they provide access to the story with minimal drill down.

The level of timeline I'm thinking of would include what Chris Baker has done but I would like to relate that to the unit level. That means working out where the 1st Div was within an action, and if possible down to the brigade level. I think, correct me if I'm wrong here, that a Field Ambulance was fairly closely attached to a specific Bridage and moved with that formation. Maj Hinge does make notes on how individual Brigades are deployed and that helps to follow their role.

I have not notices mention on the web site of books by Osprey Press. They cover much more than the Great War and I've found them excellent and readable introductions to various corners of military history.

Cheers,

John

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I found out this week that my uncle has had a war diary that my grandad, Hubert John Clarke, kept. Nobody knew that he had it until my mother mentioned to him about trying to find information about him and amazingly he admitted that he not only has his medals but a pencil written diary of his time in France!

So Barbara, many thanks for your help - such a shame that my uncle had kept this information for nearly 40yrs before telling us but at least we know now.

As my uncle lives in South Africa it could be a while before we are able to see the diary itself (apparently there were two but one is sadly missing) but my uncle has promised to copy some entries. When I get some info I will gladly share it with anyone who wants to know as it may give some valuable info on his and others movements.

Regards Gamakly

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Hi Gamakly, that is really great news for you, 40 years on but at least your uncle has kept it safe. I am sure that other's like me would be interested if you are happy to share it's contents when you receive it.

Strange really, I spend a lot of my time now trying to help others trace where their relatives served but I have no idea where either of my grandfather's served. I did trace my great uncle and have visited his grave in France but then he did serve with the RAMC.

Barbara

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Barbara (and everyone else),

Do you know what became of Lt Col Hinge after he left No 1 FA? I gather you have build some cross-reference resources and wondered if you know anything more about him.

The brigade that a field ambulance is attached to takes a rotation of medical officers who are noted in the FA's War Diary. Were there medical officers permanently attached to each battalion and FA officers covered them for leave? Or were the medical officers posted to the ambulance and attached to battalions temporarily? If so then I'm not sure how to fit them in to a FA establishment based on the example given in The Long Long Trail.

Thanks for the help.

John Harrop

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Hi John

I was just about to post a message to you, you beat me to it.

I've been looking at the war diary you sent me. The names listed in the box on 6th August 1914 are in the August 1914 Army list under Special Reserve, hence SR but their Ranks are different. I've noticed from the Nominal Roll that many of the men that arrived with the 1st Fld Ambulance left to serve with other Fld Ambulances and also other regiments, like the RE.

I quess we will have to follow the officers through the Army list?? I'll check Lt Col Hinge and come back to you.

Barbara

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Barbara,

Wow that was fast!!! Just went to get a coffee and there is the reply.

Scanned (to pdf) a few more months of the No 1 FA diary. Sep and Oct 1915 have signed copies of the Ops Orders for those months as appendices. I transcribed a short month and am working on Sep 1914. But the Ops Orders look quite interesting so I may make a detour.

The box you mention on 6th Aug is what was in the right hand column of the diary for that entry. Since it is almost always empty (except for the initals of the OPI) I've put them in a box at the bottom of the associated entry.

John Harrop

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John

Sorry about the delay in replying, I have been doing some digging for you.

Your question about Lt Col Hinge - The information I have found states that the 1st Fld Amb was formed in Aldershot under Major H A Hinge on 12th Aug 1914. From the 3rd Jan 1918 - 28th Jan 1918 and from 27th Feb 1918 - 9th Aug 1918 he was Col H A Hinge, DDMS, VI Corps. Then from 10th Aug 1918 he was Col H A Hinge, DMS, General Head Quarters, Home Forces.

Your question about Medical Officers - Field Ambulance Divisional Troops had 10 Officers and 231 O/Rs, which includes the ASC O/R's etc. The Regimental Officer [RMO] was RAMC but had his own establishment of a Sergent or Corporal and 1 or 2 RAMC O/Rs. In action this would be augmented by Regimental Stretcher-Bearers and maybe bearer teams from a Field Ambulance if needed.

Quoting from the book 'Diary of A Yeomany M.O. by Military History Book, A navel & Military Press (so you have a point of reference), 'Each Medical Officer and bearer party followed his own Brigade'. Capt O Teichman, D.D.O., M.C. talks about times when several M.O.'s worked together but had their own piece of land to cover. He also mentions a point when he has no Field Ambulance behind him to pass casualties back to, so contacts other M.O's to set up an evacuation chain to the Field Ambulances they were evacuating to.

I hope this helps and I haven't waffled, thought it would provide you with a slightly bigger picture.

Barbara

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Barbara

Do you happen to have any details on Lt. (later Capt. and Lt-Col.) Edward Alfred Gates RAMC?

He was the Medical Officer attached to the 25th Battalion Royal Fusiliers (Frontiersmen) when they went out to East Africa in 1915.

I have been told he was awarded an OBE (not sure if military or civil award though) but have so far been unable to substantiate this.

Any help would be very much appreciated.

Regards

Steve

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Steve

I have found him in the 1921 Medical Directory

GATES, Edwd. Alfred, O.B.E., 5 Burwood-Pl. Hyde-pk. W. 2 (Tel. Padd. 3073) - M.D. Lond. (qual. for Gold Medal) 1902, M.B. (1st Class Hunrs. Med.) 1900; L.R.C.P. Lon.1898; M.R.C.S.Eng,1898; M.D.Florence 1908; (St. Thos.); Med. Specialist Appeal Bd. Min. of Pensions: late Res.Asst Phys., Ho. Phys., & Ho Surg. St. Thos. Hosp.: Cons. Phys. B.E.F. Italy ; Lt-Col. R.A.M.C. (ret.); Civil Surg. Egypt. Army 1900-02. Author. "Medical Report," St Thos,Hosp.Reps. 1902-03; "Some Italian Health Resorts," Jl. Balneol. & Climat. 1906 ; &c.

It does not look as if he has been listed in the The British Medical Journal Honours list 1919 for South Africa. OBE, but I'll keep an eye out for any further info on him and will come back to you if I find anything.

I need a cup of tea after typing that lot.

Hope it helps

Barbara

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Barbara,

No worries on the delay. I'm working on this fairly slowly too.

About the date No 1 FA was formed:

I'm not sure where the 12th Aug comes from. Looking through the Aug Diary I don't see anything special about that date. Of course there is no reason why a document stating their official date of formation would need to correspond to a significant date in the real world. The Diary refers to the 5 Aug as the date when mobilization orders were received and by 8 Aug the Ambulance is close to complete in terms of establishment. By 12 Aug the unit is on route march.

I'm having some difficulty with the 10 officers in the FA. Thats why I asked about how they related to the Battalions withing their Brigade. Using the breakdown of positions given on The Long, Long Trail there were:

1 Officer Commanding

1 Officer Bearer Subsection A

1 Officer Tent Subsection A

1 Officer Bearer Subsection B

1 Officer Tent Subsection B

1 Officer Bearer Subsection C

1 Officer Tent Subsection C

That gets up to 7. I get the impression from reading the Diary and how officers took over as acting OC while the OC was on leave that there was no 2IC position as such. The fact that there are three more officers suggests there was one more per section - possibly a 2Lt with the Bearers, or otherwise available for duties as needed in the section.

Does that make sense?

Almost have Sep 14 for No 1 FA transcribed. Interesting month. In Oct 15 there is also an unusual entry for a Private who confesses to deserting Cameron Highlanders and joining RAMC three days later. This must have taken place in England. No information on what became of his case.

Cheers,

John

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Barbara

Thanks for the details on Edward Alfred Gates, it's much appreciated and confirms that he was indeed awarded the OBE, all I have to do now is find it in the London Gazette <_<

Thanks again.

Steve

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John

I have the date 12th Aug on the database my father put together. I do not know where he got the information but it would of been from an official record. I will see if I can locate it for you.

I remember when studing the Medical Official History with my father that the medical administration & organisation changed, becaming bigger, I believe in 1917. The breakdown on the Long, Long Trail clearly states 1914 so maybe the stucture I'm quoting from is later. It would make sense but I'll confirm that with you. In fact, tomorrow I'll email you a couple of printouts I've got then it may make more sense to you.

Barbara

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Found it

Gates EA Capt 8/1919 XXXIII 51 OBE 3/6/19

:) Amazing what a cup of tea can do.

More power to the Cuppa :D

Thanks for the details, managed to find the entry in the London Gazette based on the details supplied. Turns out the OBE was awarded for services rendered in connection with military operations in Italy, little wonder I couldn't find it under East Africa.

Thanks again.

Steve

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What was the typical time for enlisted to spent training (in UK) before posting to Europe?

Does anyone watching this thread know or can they suggest where to track down info on this? My grandfather joined in June 1915, but it seems he was not over in Europe until after 1915. (I'm basing this on his medals, not his record - which I don't have, or the medal index.) He joined already with a couple of years experience in St John. Is it reasonable to expect enlisted RAMC to train that long?

Thanks for the help.

Cheers,

John

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Can't say if it was normal certainly but my Grandfather enlisted RAMC prior to his fathers death (Feb 1915) and did end up in France until first week in January,1916. However it could be different for other though.

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According to the Official History, training, at the beginning of the war consisted of military duties, drill and stretcher-bearer work but it was soon recognised that this was inadequate so drafts of men were sent to various commands for a course of instruction in hospital work. This allowed those who already had medical experience to be released to start military training for the new medical units. Some men only received general training at the beginning of the war because recruits had to be allotted rapidly into the field medical units of the first four armies. In the later part of 1915 men were held up and remained at their training depot because the new army field ambulances could only assembled as units shortly before their embarkment.

Territorial force medical units were trained seperately at their depots. Second line field ambulances were raised as complete units to replace the ones which had gone overseas but the best men were taken to replace wastage in their front line units, they were replaced by those in the third line units.

The whole system of recruiting and training was changed towards the end of 1916 and beginning of 1917.

It would appear then that at the beginning of the war, the amount of training any RAMC personnel received would have depended on the medical knowledge he already had and the unit he was recruited into.

The RAMC stopped recruiting men on 4th Nov 1914, due to 26,336 volunteers enlisting, although it resumed again between 8th Jan - 10th March 1915, a few days at the end of April - beginning May and between 24th Oct - 4th Nov 1915. with the exception of men with special qualifications, that is medical qualifications, laboratory or sanitary knowledge, or first aid and nursing certificates. By 31st Dec 1915 the RAMC had recruited 1915,66,139 men. (How many!!! and I'm doing a database)

By the way, due to an order issued on the 23rd March 1915. many of these were transferred into infantry battalions to meet the demands for reinforcement to the expeditionary force, which caused a short fall, but they were eventually replaced by members of the RAMC (T.F.) who were between the ages of 17 - 19 or 40 - 50 and placed in home service. This answers a query I read on another thread.

Barbara

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Dear BJay

Lt Col Edward Alfred Gates OBE, MD, MRCP, Officers Badge, The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (first type Military Division) 1914-15 Star, BWM, Vict Medal w/MID emblem, Lt Col E A Gates also awarded a silver commemorative medal by the Italian Army for British Army Officers whom served as members of the "Plateau Army".

London Gaz:

Lt RAMC (#28911) 23 Sep 14

Capt RAMC (#29311) 18 Oct 15

Lt Col RAMC (#30728) 05 Jun 18

Relinquished Commission 25 apr 19 (Retained rank)

MID 8 Feb 1917

Do you have a list of the other members of the RAMC in the 25th Bn, RF in East Africa?

Regards

LF Historian

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I have Pte 28072 Hugh John Jones RAMC. Died 20th Nov 1918 Aged 28.

Is buried at Beira Christian Cemetery, Mozambique, East Africa. His home address was Bryntirion, Llanberis.

Of the 6 WW1 burials there two are RAMC. The other being Major Harold W Sykes 11/11/18.

I've not yet begun researching Pte Jones so if he appears in this East Africa discussion I would appreciate any info.

Hywyn

PS

Barbara, if you have the SDGW entry could i possibly have it?

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Dear Hywyn

The only 25th member that I know of buried in Mozambique is 12981 L/Cpl H Elliott dec. 13 Dec 1918. Do you know who Pte Jones was attached to? BJay may no more on this one.

Regards

LF Historian

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LFH

Unfortunately I know nothing much more yet about Pte Jones. I will possibly come across him as I am slowly (very) going through the newpapers.

I've not yet begun to research what our Forces were doing in Mozambique.

He is the only one on my list not in the 'main' theatres and when I saw your post I threw him in as I am aware the Barbara is collating all thing RAMC (plus the SDGW request)

Hywyn

I've just noticed the date on Major Sykes in my post #71 :(

Hywyn

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I don't know whether anyone can help, my Grandad Albert James Bailey Private 2252 served with the R.A.M.C. The medal rolls don't say anything other than R.A.M.C. and his service record did not survive,although he did. He was born and living in Lewisham at the time of enlistment.

Is there anyone who could hazard a guess from his service no and area of residence as to which part of the R.A.M.C he may have served in.

Regards Doug.

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LF Historian

Thank you for the added information about Lt Col E A Gates. I do not have a specific list for RAMC members in the 25th Battalion, RF. I do have many various references that list RAMC personnel and am slowly adding men to a database, hopefully this sort of information will come to light as the database fills. It should be accessable on the internet within the next couple of weeks. I did think that I was doing well adding 4,000 names so far but with just over 66, 000 men joining in 1915 (not including TF), I think I've got a way to go.

I have found references to Regimental Medical Officers in connection with the Royal Fusiliers but I do not know if they are the 25th Bn. I do not have much knowledge about the individual regiments. I did however, come across the name Capt MacMillian, he is mentioned in the Official History as holding a commission with the 25th Bn RF. He opened a small hospital in East Africa. There are other officers names but it does not state that they are members of the 25th Bn.

Sorry I cannot be more helpful at the moment. If I come across any further information I am happy to send you a PM.

Barbara

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