9 June 2010

1st Home Counties Field Ambulance, RAMC


According to The Long, Long Trail, in 1914 each infantry Division had three Field Ambulances, each of which was divided into three Sections. Section A comprised 65 men and section B and C comprised 128 men in total. You can read more about Field Ambulances and the breakdown of the Sections, by clicking on the link above.

This post is concerned with numbering in the 1st Home Counties Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps, between 1908 and August 1914. All of the numbering information in this post has been gleaned from service records in WO 363 and WO364 at the National Archives. These same records can also be accessed on-line via Ancestry which is currently offering a FREE 14-DAY TRIAL.

There were three Home Counties Field Ambulances in all. The 1st was headquartered at Maidstone in Kent, the 2nd at Ashford in Kent and the 3rd at Surbiton in Surrey. All three HCFAs used separate number series and all three maintained separate number series when the Territorial Force was re-numbered in 1917.

I don't know for certain, but I suspect that none of the HCFAs started numbering from 1 in 1908. A lot of those early Territorial Force attestations are by men who had previously been serving as Volunteers, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to discover that serving Volunteers retained their old numbers whilst new recruits were given the next number along from the old Volunteer series.

There was obviously some thought given to numbering however, because in January 1912 we see the old series abandoned and a new series beginning at 2000 for the 1st HCFA. The same thing happened with the 2nd and 3rd HCFAs. The second started a new series from 2500 (around March 1912) and the 3rd HCFA started a new series from 3000 (around February 1913).

Here then, are sample numbers and joining dates - one per year - for the 1st Home Counties Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps:

354 joined on 15th April 1908
510 joined on 10th February 1909
650 joined on 14th June 1910
706 joined on 17th March 1911
755 joined on 5th January 1912
2013 joined on 31st January 1912
2112 joined on 19th February 1913
2236 joined on 8th May 1914
2301 joined on 8th August 1914, later 493215

When the Territorial Force renumbered in 1917, the 1st HCFA was allocated numbers within the block 493001 to 495000.

The photograph on this page shows men of the 2nd Welsh Field Ambulance (headquarted at Cardiff) and was taken at Aberystwyth in 1915. I've borrowed the image from the Parry family history at Rootsweb.

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