Unit History: 18 Field Ambulance

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18 Field Ambulance
Field Ambulance - 1914:
The Field Ambulance was a mobile front line medical unit (it was not a vehicle). Most came under command of a Division, and had special responsibility for the care of casualties of one of the Brigades in the Division. Each Division had three Field Ambulances. The theoretical capacity of the Field Ambulance was 150 casualties, but in battle many would simply be overwhelmed by numbers. The Ambulance was responsible for establishing and operating a number of points along the casualty evacuation chain, from the Bearer Relay Posts which were up to 600 yards behind the Regimental Aid Posts, through the Advanced Dressing Station (ADS), to the Main Dressing Station (MDS). The Ambulances would usually establish 1 ADS per Brigade, and 1 MDS for the Division.
Order Of Battle of the Field Ambulance
The Field Ambulance was divided into 3 Sections. In turn, those Sections had Stretcher Bearer and Tented subsections. The Field Ambulance was composed of 10 officers and 224 men.
A Section: 65 in total
   * 1 Lieutenant-Colonel, in command of the Ambulance and A Section
   * 1 Captain or Lieutenant in command of Stretcher Bearer subsection
   * 1 Sergeant and 1 Corporal
   * 1 Bugler
   * 3 Privates (wagon orderlies) and 36 Privates (bearers)
   * 1 Captain or Lieutenant in command of Tent subsection
   * 1 Quartermaster, 1 Sergeant-Major, 2 Sergeants, 2 Corporals
   * 15 Privates (including a cook, a washerman and 2 orderlies)
This is "A Section" of 129 Field Ambulance somewhere in Flanders.
B and C Sections: 128 in total
   * 1 Captain or Lieutenant in command of Stretcher Bearer subsection
   * 1 Sergeant and 1 Corporal
   * 1 Bugler
   * 2 Privates (wagon orderlies) and 36 Privates (bearers)
   * 1 Major, Captain or Lieutenant in command of Tent subsection
   * 1 Quartermaster, 1 Sergeant-Major, 4 Sergeants, 2 Corporals
   * 13 Privates (including a cook, a washerman and 2 orderlies)
   * A Section also had a Sergeant, 10 Drivers and 4 officers' batmen attached from the Army Service Corps.
   * B and C Sections each had a Sergeant, 9 Drivers and 3 batmen attached.
   * An ASC driver for the cook's wagon was also attached.
Sanitary Section
A Sanitary Section (consisting of a Lieutenant or Second-Lieutenant, 2 Sergeants, 2 Corporals, 20 Privates and 1 batman) was added to each Division in early 1915. Its job was to maintain as far as possible clean water supplies, cooking facilities and billets, de-lousing stations and similar facilities. The Sanitary Sections were withdrawn from Divisions and came under Corps or Army control from March 1917 onwards.
As with all other units, the Field Ambulances relied heavily on horses for transport, and had an establishment of 14 riding and 52 draught and pack horses. They worked the 23 wagons, 3 water carts, 3 forage carts, 6 GS wagons, 10 ambulance wagons and the cooks wagon. The Ambulance also had a single bicycle. RAMC officers and men did not carry weapons or ammunition. By the end of 1914, each Field Ambulance also included 7 motor ambulance vehicles. A workshop to maintain them was added to the Division, although in 1916 it was absorbed in the Supply Column.
The tasks undertaken by the Field Ambulances
Thanks to the war diary of No 56 Field Ambulance RAMC, we have an insight into the tasks undertaken by the men of the Ambulance. On 12 January 1916, when at Daours, the men were organised into the following parties:
8 wards, in two blocks of 4 each with a Sergeant Wardmaster and Corporal Assistant Wardmaster for each block.
33 men acting as nursing orderlies or general duty orderlies, including 7 men on night shift, in the wards.
5 men on pack store duties.
6 on rifle and kit cleaning.
3 men on hospital fatigues.
3 men on patients bath house duties.
6 men on RAMC mens cookhouse and 3 on mens dining hall.
5 on patients cookhouse, 4 on canteen, 3 on patients dining room.
3 on billet cleaning.
4 in the dispensary.
6 in the wash house.
7 on sanitary squad.
4 at bathing establishment.
9 in drying room.
4 in quartermasters stores.
2 white washers.
1 in the ablution room.
1 fumigator.
1 in the cleaning yard.
2 bootmakers.
1 horsed ambulance driver.
1 tailor.
1 barber.
2 men at the ASC Refilling Point.
3 water cart orderlies.
5 loaders.
1 sick officers cook and 1 orderly, same.
5 permanent police squad.
2 in sergeants mess.
8 in officers mess.
11 men not detailed.

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