The Services 1930 - 1956:
Royal Army Medical Corps
The Royal Army Medical Corps (R.A.M.C.), as its name implies, is responsible for the health of members of the British Army. This includes:
The triage, evacuation, treatment and care of all sick and injured soldiers in all situations;
Advice and application of hygiene and preventative medical measures to reduce the incidence of disease;
Supply and resupply of medical equipment and supplies;
Command and control of medical units and facilities.
When the new Regular British Army was formed in the reign of King Charles II (1660 – 1689), each regiment provided a medical officer, with a warrant officer as his assistant. This system of regimental medical officers was discontinued in 1873. The Duke of Marlborough fought his campaigns with the support of marching hospitals and flying hospitals to support the injured soldiers, however, it was not until the Peninsular campaign led by the Duke of Wellington in Spain and Portugal that a properly organised medical service was provided.
Sadly, the lessons of the Napoleonic Wars were not carried through, so during the Crimean War (October 1853 – February 1856) the provision of medical services to troops on active service was appalling. In response to this, in 1855, the Medical Staff Corps was formed. The corps was to be composed of ‘men able to read and write, of regular habits and food temper and of a kindly disposition’.
The Medical Staff Corps was redesignated as the Army Hospital Corps in 1857, but in 1884 it reverted to its original title. The modern Royal Army Medical Corps was formed by Royal Warrant dated the 23 June 1898, on the authority of Queen Victoria. The new corps came into effect on the 1 July 1898. Since that date, the Royal Army Medical Corps has developed a distinguished record for gallantry in action whilst providing medical support to the British Army.
The basic arrangement for the treatment of casualties started with the battalion or regiment. Each battalion or regiment would have an officer of the Royal Army Medical Corps attached as the battalion or regimental Medical Officer (M.O.). These officers were qualified doctors, with many having surgical skills as well. A M.O. usually held the rank of Captain. Each M.O. was supported by a Medical Orderly and a Medical Sergeant who were non-commissioned soldiers in the R.A.M.C..
The M.O. would establish a Regimental Aid Post (R.A.P.) just behind the front line, to which casualties could be brought. The battalion or regiment provided ninteen soldiers, led by a Corporal, to act as stretcher bearers to carry the wounded from where they fell to the R.A.P.. The R.A.P. served as a triage centre, with only immediate life-saving medical intervention being performed there. From the R.A.P., casualties were evacuated to the Advanced Dressing Station (A.D.S.) or direct to the Main Dressing Station (M.D.S.).
Each of the Territorial Army divisions was provided with one field ambulance, with the intention of increasing this to three field ambulances upon mobilisation. These units were based at:
125 (East Lancashire) Field Ambulance – Upper Chorlton Road, Manchester 16
128 (Wessex) Field Ambulance – 71, Holloway Street, Exeter
131 (Home Counties) Field Ambulance – The Old Palace, Maidstone
137 (North Midland) Field Ambulance – 91, Siddals Road, Derby
140 (County of London) Field Ambulance – Duke of York’s Headquarters, Chelsea, London
143 (South Midland) Field Ambulance – Stockfield Hall, Stockfield Road, Acocks Green, Birmingham
146 (West Riding) Field Ambulance – Harewood Barracks, Leeds, 6.
149 (Northumbrian) Field Ambulance – Hutton Terrace, Newcastle-on-Tyne, 2.
152 (Highland) Field Ambulance – Drill Hall, Bell Street, Dundee
155 (Lowland) Field Ambulance – 33, Gilmore Place, Edinburgh, 8.
158 (Welsh) Field Ambulance – 11, Newport Road, Cardiff
161 (East Anglian) Field Ambulance – Drill Hall, Woodbridge Road, Ipswich
164 (West Lancashire) Field Ambulance – Drill Hall, Rathbone Road, Old Swan, Liverpool
167 (City of London) Field Ambulance – Finsbury Barracks, London E.C.1.
170 (Cavalry) Field Ambulance, Drill Ball, Bebington, The Wirral
11 (2 Scottish) General Hospital – 33, Gilmore Place, Edinburgh, 3.
12 (2 Western) General Hospital – Upper Chorlton Road, Manchester, 16.
13 (4 London) General Hospital – Duke of York’s Headquarters Chelsea, London
5 (Scottish) Hygiene Company – Torkhill Parade, Glasgow
6 (Northern) Hygiene Company – Harewood Barracks, Leeds, 2
7 (Southern) Hygiene Company – Hamilton House, Southampton