187 Field Ambulance - War Diary November 1940

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1st November 1940 ALAFOSS CAMP.

At 15:00 hours all men paraded for washing clothes in hot springs. Found laundry for Officers after great hunt in Reykjavik, not yet found laundry for men.

4th November 1940

15:00 hours. Started leave in Reykjavik on 3rd November by Companies. Mass of Routine Orders sent to all Companies. Started men bathing in Alafoss – very good arrangement but have to go in very small parties, the various arrangements regarding leave, bathing etc lead to many complicated timings.

Started Ascorbic Acid tablet parades. This was given on alternate days.

To sum up – Camp much too small, feels very crowded. Bathing good but difficult from point of view of hours. Leave into Reykjavik complicated. Laundry very complicated. In large unit there are only small numbers ?taken by each concern. Water very far away.

Weather – light from 07:30 hours to 17:00 hours. Weather fine after slight frost at night.

Heating huts by stoves of two patterns. 1. Large Canadian best. 2. Small stoves with L-shaped pipes are not good as pipes are liable to get blocked.

Staff arrangements poor – no orders are issued or handed to me – this necessitates continually asking from one place to another and most places telling me exactly the opposite to what has been heard in the previous office.

A detail of how to obtain supplies etc. if handed to CO would save endless confusion.

9th November 1940

Movement Order No 10 was issued – for details see below.

10th November 1940.

14:00 hours. Blizzard all yesterday, with sleet and snow, roads very bad. Convoy to Reykjavik cancelled.

Sergeant Poole and Driver in the car skidded and nearly went into river. Arrived back 21:00 hours just as thinking of sending out a search party.

The Office really must have a larger stove.

11th November 1940

At 09:00 hours the following detachments left to take over the 160th Field Ambulance positions:-

Lt Needham, Sergeant Hudson and ten men for Akranes.

One Corporal and three men for Brautarholt.

Corporal Pickering and seven men for Borganes.

One man for Saurbaer.

See details of the Operation Order below.

19th November 1940

Field Ambulance Operation Order No 10 issued – for details see below.

26th November 1940

Camp improving. Covered latrines and ablution benches up, brick Cookhouses going up.

As a result of visit of AAGMQ unit is getting three more huts, one store and one Office, this will really improve situation.

Engineers still in Camp and owing to weather conditions holding up work it is difficult to see when this will be met.

Weather has been very bad – continual rain, snow, sleet and wind.

The Detention Hospital has been opened in two Nissen Huts, one Hut as Medical Inspection Room and Dispensary, one as Hospital – seven beds on stretchers raised on kerosene tins.

30th November 1940

Lt Bain admitted to hospital with osteomyelitis.

Appendices attached to the 187 Field Ambulance War Diary – November 1940.

Field Return of Other Ranks – 2nd November 1940.

This return shows an RAMC strength of one WO Class I, one WO Class II, two Staff Sergeants, ten Sergeants, thirteen Corporals and 156 men – a total of 183 at full establishment with no shortages or surpluses.

Attached Ranks consisted of the Transport Section – RASC personnel – one WO Class II, one Sergeant, five Corporals and 48 Drivers – a total of 55 men. In addition there was an Army Dental Corps Clerk Orderly – a Private.

Field Return of Officers – 3rd November 1940.

The Officer strength was listed (dates of joining not shown) as:-

Lt Col J.P.Macnamara RAMC

Major A.D. Briscoe RAMC

Lt W.D.L. Smith RAMC

Lt P.M. Kelly RAMC

Lt W.E. Mashiter RAMC

Lt W. Bain RAMC

Lt R.N. Cates RAMC

Lt E.J.A. Needham RAMC

Lt (QM) N. Heatherington RAMC

Attached Officers were:-

2/Lt P.A.N. Greenhill RASC (Joined 2/10/1940 – Transport Officer).

Lt E.N. Hanlan ADC (Joined 13/9/1940 – Dental Officer).

No changes to the Officer strength had been made during the week leading up to the Return.

Field Return of Other Ranks – 9th November 1940.

Exactly the same as the 2nd November Return.

Field Return of Officers – 9th November 1940.

The only change from the previous week was the presence, on an "attached for accommodation" basis, of Lt L. Bilton of the Yorks and Lancaster Regiment, from 30th October, as Officer commanding No 10 Mobile Bath Unit.

Movement Order No 10 – issued 9th November 1940.

Following the 187 Field Ambulance Part 1 Orders No 11, Sub-Order No 8, the arrangements for the moves of personnel to support Infantry positions in the West were set out.

The Borganes detachment would leave with the Akranes detachment – parade times would be the same.

Corporal Pickering was to take Medical Stores, drawn from the Quartermaster, for the Medical Officer of 11th DLI and hand these over on arrival at Borganes.

Driver Cass RASC would proceed with the detachment and take over the ambulance at Borganes from his opposite number of 160th Field Ambulance.

Orders for the detachments at Brautarholt and Saurbaer would be issued early on 11th November (see below).

Operation Order No 10 – issued 10th November 1940.

This brief Order set out that the Brautarholt detachment would be collected by a vehicle from 160th Field Ambulance at 10:00 hours on 11th November. Private Trewick would travel with this detachment and then be taken on by the same lorry to Saurbaer.

Field Return of Other Ranks – 16th November 1940.

In addition to the men listed on 2nd and 9th November, this Return shows the presence, with 187 Field Ambulance, of No 9 Mobile Bath Unit. This unit was staffed by one Staff Sergeant, one Corporal and 9 Privates of the Border Regiment, with four RASC Drivers, two Privates from the Royal Scots Fusiliers, one Royal Engineers Sapper and a Lance Corporal from the RAMC.

Field Return of Officers – 17th November 1940.

There were only three changes to the Officer strength.

Lt E.J.A. Needham had been attached to 10th DLI from 11th November 1940 as a relief to cover the period while 160th Field Ambulance was moving.

2/Lt Bilton of No 10 Mobile Bath Unit had ceased to be attached for accommodation purposes.

Lt S.V.L. Gedge from the General List was shown as being with the unit, from 30th October 1940, in his capacity as Officer Commanding No 9 Mobile Bath Unit.

Field Ambulance Operation Order No 10 –issued 19th November 1940.

This Order concerned the arrangements for the participation of a detachment from 187 Field Ambulance in a Field Firing Exercise to take place on 21st November.

The detachment would be led by Lt W.D.L. Smith and Lt W. Bain and would be detailed by the RSM.

A Collecting Post would be established in the vicinity of CANADA PASS and, at the conclusion of Phase 1, 187 Field Ambulance would have an Advance Post, with a Medical Officer, at ISLAND – to which any casualties would be evacuated by Unit Stretcher Bearers.

HQ Alabaster Force was providing a Wireless Truck to maintain communication with the HQ of 70th Infantry Brigade at Alafoss.

The detachment was expected to leave from Brigade HQ at 07:30 hours – the other units taking part being 386 Field Battery, 1st Tyneside Scottish and the Brigade Light Aid Detachment. Route policing would be provided by the detachment of the Divisional Provost Company from SALMON BRIDGE onwards.

The detachment was to parade at 07:00 and transport was to be ready at that time. Dress was Full Battle Order, with greatcoats and jerkins, and haversack on back. Water bottles were to be filled (with water or tea).

Field Return of Other Ranks – 23rd November 1940.

This return shows that the strength had reverted to that shown on 2nd and 9th November – implying that the Mobile Bath Unit had only been located alongside the Field Ambulance for a few days – a week at most.

Field Return of Officers – 24th November 1940.

Lt Needham was still attached to 10th DLI and Lt Gedge remained attached to the unit.

Field Return of Other Ranks – 30th November 1940.

Exactly the same as the 2nd November Return.

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