187 Field Ambulance - War Diary September 1941

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1st September 1941 Harley Street Camp.

12:00 hours - A Company have now changed over duties with HQ and it is hoped to get them training but unfortunately Major Brown is on SS Lochnagar going round the island. When he returns it is hoped to get on with training in the new organisation which the ADMS brought out.

3rd September 1941

Marked shortening of days and getting colder – also much more rain. Have decided to run a Course for NCOs consisting of lectures in:-

ADMS organisation.

Map reading.


Military Law.

Duties of NCOs.

British Military Imperial Geography.

The question of ? occupation is being thought out and on return of two NCOs from Education Course one hopes will do some education.

6th September 1941

Route March stared again. A Company and some HQ taken ? ? ? GEITHALS to HAPAVATN and then to Alafoss; the importance of these Route Marches, apart from physical training, was brought out in the last manoeuvres when it was pointed out that the considerable delay which occurred in one Brigade in making use of the road was possibly due to ? ? as it was not on the map it was not known.

7th September 1941

14:00 hours – Major Brown returned but Captain Cates took his place on the next trip on SS Lochnagar. This makes us very short of Officers as the position is as follows;

One Officer deficient, one (Lt McGowan) with 1/5th West Yorkshire Regiment, one on leave. I’ll be going on leave very shortly. One Officer going to the VESTMAN ISLANDS for ? In addition, extra work by sick parades being put on the unit as 30th General Hospital is moving to Helgafell, this unit is looking after an enormous number of troops and medically is playing a very big part in Iceland.

8th September 1941

Conference of Officers. New organisation printed out and Majors Brown and Briscoe, and Captain Cates asked to get on with it. This hoped to be able to practice it out.

11th September 1941

12:00 hours - Seventy-six survivors landed. No 30 General Hospital has started moving to Helgafell. This has caused some difficulty as no outpatients (clinics?) are functioning at the moment.

16th September 1941

12:00 hours – Another American convoy in the bay. Orders received in regard to Force Exercise No 10. The unit will practice working in the new organisation and Major Briscoe will be OC as Lt Col Mcnamara is standing by to go on leave.

15:00 hours – Weather definitely setting in for winter – wet and cold.

22nd September 1941

09:00 hours - Lt Col J.P. Mcnamara proceeded on leave.

12:30 hours – Conference of Officers and Senior NCOs taking part in Force Exercise 10. There will be 48 men from HQ Company and 53 from A Company taking part.

14:15 hours – Message received that exercise has been postponed for 24 hours.

18:30 hours – Some more survivors arrived. One stretcher case taken to No 50 General Hospital. Four minor cases treated in the Medical Inspection Room at Harley Street Camp.

21:30 hours – Rum ration issued. Weather bad.

23rd September 1941

09:30 hours – Air Raid Warning YELLOW.

10:08 hours – Air Raid Warning WHITE.

18:30 hours – Captain Davis No 50 General Hospital, Captain Grainger and Lieut Pringle No 30 General Hospital arrived to relieve Officers of this unit for the Force Exercise.

24th September 1941

04:45 hours – HQ Company and A Company left Harley Street Camp to take part in the Exercise. A copy of the Exercise Orders are attached to the War Diary (see below).

Weather still very bad – rain, wind and much mist. After arrival at the assembly area some vehicles became bogged.

09:30 hours – Exercise postponed. There had been heavy rain during the hours since the start and the hills were enveloped in low-lying cloud. Our convoy commenced the return journey at 10:30 hours. One of our vehicles was still bogged and had to be left behind. It was later recovered by the Light Aid Detachment.

20:30 hours – Rum ration issued.

21:45 hours – Major Briscoe attended a Conference at the ADMS’s Office – subject – “Equipment of a Field Ambulance for an Alpine Division”.

25th September 1941

Weather still bad – rain and mist. About 22:45 hours a thunderstorm occurred, the first since our arrival on the island eleven months ago.

26th September 1941

12::00 hours - Order of the Day from the G.o.C. to Major-General Bonesteel US Army read out to the men.

13:00 hours – Working Party of one NCO and 20 men provided for the Royal Engineers.

27th September 1941

10:30 hours – Some more survivors arrived – taken to No 50 General Hospital. Two NCOs and five men returned from their Course at No 30 General Hospital.

14:00 hours – Five men went for a month’s Course to No 30 General Hospital.

28th September 1941

Force Exercise No 10 postponed again – until October 1st. The weather is still very unfavourable – wind, rain and mist.

On two nights now the bell tents in Casement Camp Skin Hospital, at present administered by B Company, have collapsed with some scabies patients inside. On ADMS instructions, one of the hospital’s impetigo wards has been evacuated to No 30 General Hospital and this hut used for scabies (patients). We now have therefore two huts for scabies cases and one for impetigo instead of vice versa.

30th September 1941

23:30 hours – Force Exercise No 10 cancelled. Weather still very stormy.

Appendices attached to the September 1941 War Diary for 187 Field Ambulance.

Operation Order No 1 - Force Exercise No 10.

The basis of the exercise was a simulated invasion with an initial objective of capturing coastal guns at SAUERBAER and UTSKALAHAMUR, supported by an enemy strength of around one Company, with reserves at GEITHALS.

The invading force – Blue Force - was 70th Infantry Brigade supported by attached units, including 187 Field Ambulance, less one Company.

The task of the Field Ambulance was to deal with casualties from Blue Force – including collection and treatment.

An Advanced Dressing Station was to be established by A Company 600 yards East of Bridge - map reference 388293. One Ambulance Car with the right-hand column was to be located on the road to the South side of LAXARVOGUR.

Instructions were given about the ration scale to be carried – including the special additional Blue Force Emergency Ration (three packets of biscuits, one pack of chocolate, one tin each of meat and vegetable stew and bully beef, all carried on the man). Two days’ extra rations were to be carried in unit transport.

Troops were to wear Field Service Caps with a blue band and carry their leather jerkins, rolled, below their small packs.

Brigade HQ was to be situated 400 yards West of Bridge reference 388293. A Liaison Officer was to report to Brigade HQ from the unit on arrival at the assembly area.

Appendix A – Movement Order for Force Exercise No 10.

This document gave the Order of March and the allocation of vehicles within the unit . In total this amounted to:

Two motorcycles

Four cars.

Three 3-tonners.

Eight 30 cwt trucks.

One watertanker.

Four Ambulance Cars.

Instructions were given about lights, timing and convoy procedure.

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