Field Ambulances in India 1942 - 1945

Discussion in 'RAMC' started by Jennifer65, Nov 13, 2013.

  1. Jennifer65

    Jennifer65 Member

    My father was in the RAMC from 1923 - 1930 and again for WW2, I have his service records for WW2 and am trying to track his units movements especially in India, he was with 56 Field Ambulance (56 Indian Field Ambulance) from January 1942 to August 1945 and try as I might I cannot find any reference through searching the web to that particular field ambulance. Can anyone point me in the right direction to find where the field ambulances were at any particular time. Also where 47 Reception Camp might have been in India

    He was attached to 8th Field Ambulance whilst in the UK and also from October 1939 - end of May 1940 with British Expeditionary Forces and until October 1941 when he went to Leeds awaiting embarkation to India.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated
  2. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member


    I cannot give you any information myself, but there is a War Diary for 56 Indian Field Ambulance at the National Archives, here is a link to the reference. Always difficult to know what might be included in these diaries, they can be hit and miss in terms of names etc.

    Hope this will help.

  3. Jennifer65

    Jennifer65 Member

    Many thanks Steve, that is a huge help, I intend to visit the archives and knowing where to look is an advantage. I would just like to know where the field ambulance was at given times (or round about) My father was awarded the Burma Star so he was either in Burma itself or Bengal or Assam. The only actual places mentioned on his records are Poona, Deolali, and Rawalpindi.

    So grateful for your speedy reply to my post

  4. Charpoy Chindit

    Charpoy Chindit Junior Member

    56 Ind Fd Amb was with 25 Indian Division between 1942 and 1946, in the Arakan 1944-45 and in Malaya 1945-46. You should be able to find plenty of information on the division's campaigns. Check the War Diary for more unit detail, just don't expect your father to be mentioned by name.
    47 Indian Reception Camp was at Chittagong.
    bamboo43 likes this.
  5. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Well done Charpoy Chindit, great info there, and a lot of potential work for a Field Ambulance unit, especially in the Arakan.
  6. Jennifer65

    Jennifer65 Member

    Sincere thanks Charpoy Chindit super info, I don't expect to find his name, just where his unit was at various times so I can map it out.

    Wow, now I am getting somewhere

  7. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Cheers CC - I couldn't work out what Division they were with - does your source indicate they were with a specific brigade within 25Div or more probably that they were divisional troops. (By the way, what is your source? - I struggled to find them)

    Jennifer - knowing which Division his unit was with can make it easier to try to map out where he was during certain parts of the war. The London Gazette in 1951 contained the report of his (much) higher commander for operations in Burma 1944 - 1945.

    By searching for the division (search for 25 Indian) in the report (the word document has been attached to this post - hopefully) you can trace where he would have been - basically wherever the division went there would have been medics.

    From what I can see in the report (and probably confirmed by CC) 25Div was comprised of at least two brigades (74 Brigade & 53 Brigade) whereas the Division itself came under 15 Corps.

    You should be able to find snippets like this:

    171. There followed a week of severe fighting
    against the strongest enemy concentration
    that the troops of 25 Indian Division had yet
    encountered. Kantha was occupied on the
    17th January, and the enemy driven from an
    important hill feature to the north of it. By
    the 21st, 74 Brigade had reached a line
    running east and west two miles north of
    Kantha. This effectively sealed off the Myebon
    Peninsula and the mouth of the Myebon River.


    Attached Files:

  8. Charpoy Chindit

    Charpoy Chindit Junior Member

    25 Ind Div consisted of three Indian Infantry Brigades; 51, 53 and 74. Other brigades were temporarily attached from time to time.
    The Division's three Indian Field Ambulances were; 56, 58 and 61. They are usually listed as divisional troops.
    My sources are various location statements, skeleton orders of battle, lists of units, etc., that I’ve looked at over the years, although not in any truly methodical manner. Gaps and errors do occur.
    There is a nice little booklet called 'The Twenty Fifth Indian Division' published by the Indian War Department, which gives a brief history of the division with loads of photos and some maps. See if you can find a copy. The official histories, British and Indian, should put everything in perspective for you, although the unit’s War Diary will still be the best source for the sort of detail that you are seeking.
  9. Jennifer65

    Jennifer65 Member

    I'm so grateful to you guys for all the information that you have, its tremendously helpful, my Dad apparently never spoke of things when he got back (understandably)
    I have downloaded the report successfully but the booklet seems to be unavailable at the moment which is a pity, but I live in hope, so I will keep trying on that one, but knowing which division (and Brigades) his unit was attached to is a tremendous help and a visit to the National Archives is planned for the War Diaries.
    I found a newspaper report a few years back about Dad and his four brothers, one was with 1st Airborne and was at Arnhem, another was at Dunkirk (as was Dad) his two other brothers were reinforcements sent a few days after D Day, sadly one was killed in July 1944 and is buried at Le Mans.
    I've found which convoy he was on and narrowed it down to 2 troop carriers, they had just left Freetown when the Japanese invaded Malaya and bombed Pearl Harbour.

    Once again thank you so much

  10. Skoyen89

    Skoyen89 Senior Member

    If you haven't got the war Diary yet the answer could be found in 'The Official Medical history of The Second World war; The Army Medical Services' Vol V by FAE Crew. It describes the movement of the Field Ambulances and the units they were supporting. You can get it through your library.
  11. Bob636

    Bob636 Member

    Hi There

    re my father Harry Douglas Brown 7349789

    My situation is very similar to yours. My father was in the RAMC in 143FA from 1939 until he departed for INDIA IN December 1943. The problem for me is that after he arrived in India in his war record they do not seem to refer to his FA unit anymore. What they do mention is that he was originally in Belgaum, Kamataka, from January 1944, and then in April 1944 he moved to Gaya, Bihar until February 1946..
    He appears to have to have been with two units called RFD 29 and later RFD 33 which I think are field dressing stations and finally HQ452.

    My question is that in his record although he has the Burma Star for having been involved in the Burma campaign, there is nothing to indicate in his record that he ever left India or entered Burma. I wonder how likely that was and whether that was common? I would dearly like to know whether he spent the whole period in India. It occurs to me that Gaya was a great distance from Burma, perhaps nearly 1000 miles. Would they routinely have brought casualties this distance to a field hospital? Or were all the field hospitals actually in Burma itself and I am just not seeing this detail in his record , which I have to say is extremely difficult to read due to the handwriting and abbreviations.

    Can anybody help me please?

    many thanks

    Bob Brown
  12. zahonado

    zahonado Well-Known Member

    Bob, many of the Burma injured were flown out to various places and generally huge distances were covered..Each Chindit unit for example had their own medical detachments which were expected to operate on and provide medical care in sometimes extreme conditions. When planes could fly ,ie if the conditions were not to bad, the most seriously injured left by light plane. Not sure how far they flew but the hospitals etc may well have been over the border in India.
  13. Charpoy Chindit

    Charpoy Chindit Junior Member

    143 Fd Amb did not go to India.

    I have no idea what RFD 29 and RFD 33 might be, but HQ 452 might refer to HQ 452 Line of Communication Sub-Area. This was at Chittagong 1944-45 (at least), and, although this was in India, a posting there would have earned a Burma Star. However, you say that he was in Bihar until 1946 and this would not have got him a Burma Star.

    The only FDS’s that I can find in India were East and West African, but they would have had RAMC personnel.

    Of the hundreds of hospitals in India I can only find three Field Hospitals. The term seems to have gained currency since the war; probably due to our Americanisation.

    It might help if you were to post a scan of the records that you have.
  14. Thomo1972

    Thomo1972 Member

    Sorry Bob I can't find any reference to the 143 Fld Amb being in the far east either.

    Unfortunately I can't find out what the RFD stands for either but I'll keep looking.

    I would be good if you could scan in a copy of his service records as there are many of us on here who have also gone through the pain of trying to decipher hand written records and can possible see a word at a glance that you have been staring at for hours without a clue!

    I'm always happy to receive private emails

    Good luck - don't give up!

    Rich Payne likes this.
  15. Bob636

    Bob636 Member

    That is a great suggestion for which I am very grateful. I will certainly scan the relevant page covering his time in India and post it. On a technicality I cannot see an attach file button -unless it is Image, or maybe My Media?

  16. lionboxer

    lionboxer Member

    I believe that Gaya was a large transit and supply area as it was at the junction of several railway lines. All manner of troops were there being held until their eventual posting to the front. Of course admin units were there too for the maintenance and movements of reinforcements and supplies.
  17. Bob636

    Bob636 Member

    Dear Zahonado, Charpoy Chindit, Thomo 1972 etal

    Re Harry Douglas Brown RAMC FA143 Service number 7349789

    I can now attach a scan of my father's service record covering the period from the end of 1943 through to the end of the war in 1946, I have not included the pages up until his departure to India because they will not help apart from saying that up until his departure he was in 143 FA .After he arrived in India I do not think he was still part of FA143 as they are not mentioned again. As I say what I am looking for is more info on where he was in India, what he was doing, and whether he ever went into Burma . I can confirm he definitely was awarded the Burma Star. He departed for India in December 1943. If you are able to decipher any more detail from this record that would be wonderful. It seems very difficult to read!

    With huge appreciation for your help.

    Bob Brown
  18. Bob636

    Bob636 Member

    Further to my last post above

    re Harry Douglas Brown 7349789 here are the scans of the relevant part of his war record. I wanted to attach them to the previous email but I had to figure out how to add an attachment!

    Please see these scans in association with the previous post and my other earlier one about his service in India in the RAMC 1944-1946

    Many thanks

    Bob Brown

    Attached Files:

  19. Charpoy Chindit

    Charpoy Chindit Junior Member

    It looks like;

    Disembarked India
    Combined Indian Military Hospital Belgaum
    33 Reinforcement Camp
    29 Reinforcement Camp
    32 Indian Staging Section
    HQ 452 Line of Communication Sub-Area
    Homeward Bound Trooping Depot Deolali
    Embarked for UK
  20. lionboxer

    lionboxer Member

    33 Rft Camp was at Gaya in 1943 and was part of Eastern Command. 29 Rft Camp was also there December 43 before moving to Mynamati near Comilla in modern day Bangladesh. It served 404 Lines of Communication Area and 257 LoC Sub Area.

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