187 Field Ambulance - War Diary February 1941
2nd February 1941 Alafoss CAMP.
10:00 hours. The Officers’ training class and also the first Stretcher Bearer Course, and the course for Regimental Stretcher Bearers, closed on 1st February 1941.
As regards the first, I think it proved very valuable, including, as it did:-
1. Sanitary and water duties.
2. Loading, both ambulances and lorries.
3. Field Ambulance equipment.
4. A TEWT on the ground.
5. A very excellent demonstration, by A Company, of how to put up and down, and move, an Advanced Dressing Station using, as I said before, the penthouses attached to the 30cwt lorries.
There were also lectures on RAMC administration, Military Law and a debate on the following subject – “That the present organisation of the Advanced Dressing Station is obsolete and not fitted for mechanised warfare and should be improved and brought up to date”.
Thinking it out a great many points of interest and shorthand notes were taken and forwarded to the Assistant Director of Medical Services.
The Stretcher Bearers were very good ? ? and learnt a great deal.
5th February 1941
10:00 hours. Programme is being carried out better, all NCOs and men and Officers lectured on discipline as Unit has been falling off recently. Saluting bad, cursing, for example.
Lt Greenhill has asked to hand over Officers’ Mess – this Officer feels that an RAMC Officer would be better. Major Brown(e) RAMC has taken over.
Great difficulty with all ranks ? no definite orders given as none can get an excuse of not doing something.
11th February 1941
12:00 hours. Great improvement all round in mens’ saluting and happiness, undoubtedly lectures and talks have done a lot of good and days much longer and lighter improving morale all round.
Inter-Platoon football going very well though often played under appalling conditions – ice on field one day – pools of water next – heavy winds next - but all helps.
HQ Company have been practising for Mobile Column but location has been so windy that putting up and keeping up penthouses impossible.
Orders received from ADMS that Unit is changing over with 160th Field Ambulance and going into tented Camp at Harley Street near Reykjavik, I think.
This will be good for everyone, nearer town new interests, new duties.
14th February 1941
13:00 hours. Myself and Quartermaster have been down to 160 Field Ambulance to talk over move, which we will do in four days.
A Company going first and taking over all medical work which includes Convalescent Camp. This will be very good for the Company which, though very good in the Field, is the weakest medically.
B Company will come into Mobile Reserve when its detachments come in (from the existing Outstations) and will then be able to concentrate on new training.
The Camp at Harley Street is very small and tents much closer together, Mess not so good for Officers or Sergeants, and the transport park not so good but as always the strange seems worse – I honestly think that this change is about 60 – 40 against us.
Defence Scheme is more complicated in the new Camp but more static with few moves.
Another Stretcher Bearer Course for Regimental Stretcher Bearers has been completed – again the men were good.
Weather has been very cold and stormy.
17th February 1941.
10:00 hours. HQ Company has had considerable practice as Mobile Company going out like A Company but unfortunately, weather, as is usual in this country, changed again and most of the time it has been very stormy making the putting up of the Advanced Dressing Station impossible as far as penthouses are concerned, and the great difficulty is that the ground is so hard that no nails or pegs can be put in, but all this has been good practice.
On 14th February 1941 Lt Mashiter proceeded to ADMS‘ Office to act as DADMS in place of Major Button who is going on a tactical course . Major Brown(e) – 187 Field Ambulance – was on the preceding course and got a remarkably good report.
25th February 1941
11:00 hours. At 08:52 hours preliminary warning was received that enemy action against ICELAND imminent. At 09:00 hours the Stand-by Order was received and a further Order to be ready to move if necessary at ten minutes’ notice.
At about 14:20 hours Orders received from Brigade Major to send down a representative to HQ 70th Infantry Brigade conference.
Captain Smith RAMC went but on returning seemed rather vague as to exact position and stated that enemy had landed in the Hvalfjordur area and that a Column under the CO 11th DLI had gone out to meet them and that a detachment of the Field Ambulance was to form a Column following the DLI.
There appeared to be no definite timings or Order of March given, so the Officer Commanding 187 Field Ambulance rang up Brigade and was told to follow 11th DLI and that last lorry would have green flag.
A Company left about 15:30 hours – they were somewhat slow in getting out of Camp as men had not been mustered and loaded properly on the Parade Ground. There was also a block on the Camp Main Road – so transport was too closely packed – a very good aeroplane target.
Captain Smith was ordered to go forward and contact the HQ Column – the Medical Officer of 11th DLI - and report the situation to Major Briscoe – Officer Commanding A Company. Major Briscoe was given orders to follow the Column but not to proceed past Fort CAMERON – i.e. about 4 ½ miles from Alafoss, until the situation had cleared. HQ Company was, by this time, ready to move at ten minutes’ notice. No news was received from A Company till 18:30 hours when Captain Smith returned and stated that the exercise was over.
Several points came out of the exercise:-
That the system of taking the lorries daily from the Unit for the use of the Pool Transport, though apparently necessary, makes it impossible to act as a mobile unit. Some of our lorries from the pool did not arrive back till 14:00 hours – this though warning was sent out at 09:10 hours.
The old mistake of not informing the medicals of what was happening cropped up, eg the Officer Commanding the Column did not inform the Field Ambulance that he was leaving and, as a consequence, he left without the Field Ambulance which was down in the Scheme to report to his HQ and, except for the Brigade, he would have been without A Company.
No definite march timings or start points were given and the Field Ambulance was just given verbal orders. ? saw a unit at about the same time, as a result it barged into the Line of March of another unit.
The ADMS appeared to be dependent for information on the DADMS – this should not be.
28th February 1941
11:00 hours. The Unit is definitely changing over with 160 Field Ambulance and moving to Harley Street Camp about 1 ½ miles from Reykjavik – the move to be completed by March 5th. Arrangements have been made to do this by stages, starting on 2nd March 1941.
Appendices attached to the 187 Field Ambulance War Diary for February 1941.
The Field Returns, or any other documentation, were not filed with the War Diary for this month.
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