Stretcher bearers / medics

Discussion in 'General' started by levien, Sep 24, 2009.

  1. Capt Bill

    Capt Bill wanderin off at a tangent

    I see. So stretcher bearers do no apply "first aid".


    even today - musicians have music as their peace time role, but their war role is as stretcher bearers. They do undertake basic first aid training

    Each of todays TA Field Hospitals notionally have a regular army band attached to them
  2. Bernhart

    Bernhart Member

    Frederick George Topham was born in Toronto, Ontario, on the 10th of August 1917. He was educated at King George Public School and Runnymede High School. Prior to his enlistment he was employed in the mines at Kirkland Lake. In November 1945 he laid the cornerstone for Sunnybrook Memorial Hospital in Toronto. After demobilization he worked at Toronto Hydro. He died on the 31st of May 1974 and is buried in Toronto.

    "On 24th March 1945, Corporal Topham, a medical orderly, parachuted with his battalion on to a strongly defended area east of the Rhine. At about 1100 hours, whilst treating casualties sustained in the drop, a cry for help came from a wounded man in the open. Two medical orderlies from a field ambulance went out to this man in succession, but both were killed as they knelt beside the casualty.
    Without hesitation and on his own initiative, Corporal Topham went forward through intense fire to replace the orderlies who had been killed before his eyes. As he worked on the wounded man he was himself shot through the nose. In spite of severe bleeding and intense pain, he never faltered in his task. Having completed immediate first aid, he carried the wounded man steadily and slowly back through continuous fire to the shelter of a wood.
    During the next two hours Corporal Topham refused all offers of medical help for his own wound. He worked most devotedly throughout this period to bring in the wounded, showing complete disregard for the heavy and accurate enemy fire. It was only when all casualties had been cleared that he consented to his own wound being treated.
    His immediate evacuation was ordered, but he interceded so earnestly on his own behalf that he was eventually allowed to return to duty.
    On his way back to his company he came across a carrier, which had received a direct hit. Enemy mortar bombs were still dropping around, the carrier itself was burning fiercely and its own mortar ammunition was exploding. An experienced officer on the spot had warned all not to approach the carrier.
    Corporal Topham, however, immediately went out alone in spite of the blasting ammunition and enemy fire, and rescued the three occupants of the carrier. He brought these men back across the open, and although one died almost immediately afterward, he arranged for the evacuation of the other two, who undoubtedly owe their lives to him.
    This NCO showed sustained gallantry of the highest order. For six hours, most of the time in great pain, he performed a series of acts of outstanding bravery, and his magnificent and selfless courage inspired all those who witnessed it."
  3. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive


    His wife Mary loaned his medals to the Canadian War Museum until she later found out they were not on display but in storage. She took the medals back and instructed they were to be sold after her death. The Canadian Parachute Battalion Association had an agreement that they could purchase them for $250,000 but an overseas offer of over $300,000 (I suspect this was Ashcroft) was submitted and the CPBA had to go 'cap in hand' to raise the extra cash. The folk of Canada answered the call and donations were received from military associations, school children and local towns that all helped raise money to keep the medals in Canada.

    In 2005 a cheque for $300,000 was handed over to Mary Tophams Estate and then CPBA handed the medals over to the CWA on the understanding they would be put on display for all to see.

    Sanctuary Park Cemetery, Etobicoke, Ontario.
  4. Drayton

    Drayton Senior Member

    During the Great War men who refused to carry arms, because of their religion or whatever, became often stretcher bearers / medics.

    Was this in WW2 also the case?

    This question arises from a double misunderstanding:

    1. There has never been in the British armed forces a rank, posting or full-time occupation as "stretcher-bearer". The carrying of stretchers was, and is, an incidental job to which any member of the lower ranks might be detailed at any time on a relevance occasion. The common use of the term "stretcher-bearer" on random occasions is generally unhelpful.

    2. Although in the Great War a number of men were recognised as conscientious objectors within the Army, there is no recorded case of a such a man being posted to the RAMC, the corps most closely associated with stretcher-bearing, although its functions go far wider. COs within the Army were virtually exclusively posted to the Non-Combatant Corps (NCC), whose WW2 counterpart, with similar functions, is discussed elesewhere on WW2Talk.

    In WW2 a few COs were admitted to the RAMC, carrying their personal; non-combatanta status with them, but the Army soon ceased to admit them, claiiming that they had a sufficiency of personnel. In 1945 a few volunteers were transferred from the NCC to the RAMC's Parachute Field Ambulance Units, and some of them actually parachuted into Normandy on D-Day.

    The great majority of COs within the WW2 Army served in the NCC. A few served in the Royal Army Pay Corps, and possibly one or two other corps.
  5. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Staffordshire's National Memorial Arboretum is now home to the first monument in Europe remembering Quaker service during World War II.

    At the outbreak of WWII the Quaker community was faced with a dilemma: should they accept or refuse to fight? Was there a way to honour their country while safeguarding a fundamental part of their faith?

    Pacifism is intrinsic to the Quaker philosophy: the members of the Society of Friends, also known as Quakers or Friends, believe that God is in everyone and each person has a 'divine spark' in them - hence their opposition to all forms of violence.

    In 1939, when conscription was introduced in Britain, individual Quakers took personal decisions whether to join up or take alternative routes.

    Many found a compromise in the Friends Relief Service (FRS) which provided support on the home front for civilians in distress as a result of the war.

    Others joined the Friends Ambulance Unit (FAU) which allowed them to serve close to the front line without engaging in fighting.

    'Chocolate soldiers'
    Leslie Steed was one of them. Born and raised in Stafford in a Quaker family, he was encouraged by his father to look for a job with a pension - so he started to work with the Birmingham Gas Board. But as the war broke, his early career was interrupted.

    The FAU had been originally set up in WWI. At the outbreak of WWII, a committee, chaired by FAU veteran Paul Cadbury, was created to re-establish the Unit. Mr Steed recalls: "I went and called Paul Cadbury and asked if I could join, and I was in the next camp - it was as simple as that."

    Mr Steed joined the FAU in 1939 at the age of 20. After working in a hospital in London, he supported first the Eighth Army in North Africa as an ambulance driver and mechanic, and then the Allied Troops in a blood-transfusion unit in Italy.

    Mr Steed did not see being part of the FAU as a compromise with his pacifist beliefs: visiting his cousin, an FAU member in Birmingham, he realised that what they were doing was "really up [his] street."

    Under the terms of the National Service (Armed Forces) Act of 1939 conscientious objectors, including Quakers, had to face a tribunal to claim exemption from fighting.

    When Mr Steed's turn came, the judge told him and two colleagues that they would be exempt from military service as long as they stayed in the FAU. "We called ourselves the chocolate soldiers of Paul Cadbury," he says.

    Unlike many other conscientious objectors, Mr Steed did not encounter any hostility from the population or the army: "There was a rather mock incredulity, people saying: 'Look, we couldn't have any choice, we were forced to, but you lot volunteered - you must be mad!'"

    Pioneer woman
    Born in 1921, Angela Sinclair was one of the first women to join the FAU, serving from late 1940 to 1948.

    She took part in the support service during the London Blitz and, after working as a secretary for two years in London's FAU office working for Brandon Cadbury, she undertook social work in a Yugoslav refugee camp in Egypt, and then worked with the FAU in Yugoslavia.

    When she decided to join the FAU her father did not object, although he and his ancestors were soldiers: "I think this was because he felt it was courageous of me to choose to work in an area specially threatened by bombing," says Ms Sinclair. "Also, probably, because I was a girl; he might have objected if I had been a male of military age.

    "I think being a pacifist was undoubtedly less criticised as being unpatriotic for a female, provided that it was clear one was not trying to evade dangerous situations," she adds.

    If working in the FAU could be seen as an involvement in the war effort, Ms Sinclair did not see it as such, as it only aimed to help relieve suffering caused by the war.

    "Only in one activity did there seem to be any contradiction," she explains, "when I willingly took part in extinguishing incendiary bombs; some FAU members refused to do this on the grounds that they would be replacing military personnel who would otherwise have to do this."

    Ms Sinclair later became a social worker and has been involved in the peace movement.

    Making a statement
    The new memorial takes the form of four benches in a circle, resembling a Quaker meeting for worship - that was also how the FAU and FRS teams started their day.

    The carving on each of the benches explains the Society's position on fighting, the FAU and FRS services, and an inscription on the back of the fourth bench explains the awarding of Nobel Peace Prize to Quakers in 1947 for their service in the relief of war suffering.

    Anthony Wilson, clerk to the Quaker Service Memorial Trust who also served in the FAU after WWII, sees the memorial as "a place for Quakers to make a statement alongside the other organisations there - not a statement of defiance or disagreement... there were many ways of serving and witnessing against evil."

    However, he adds, not all Quakers initially agreed with this, as they saw the Arboretum as being, essentially, a place for military memorial and were not comfortable with being there, although those who had already visited the Arboretum appreciated that it in no way celebrates military conflict.

    This would not have been an issue for FAU and FRS members, as they accepted that cooperation with the military was necessary to help relieve the suffering.

    Mr Wilson hopes that visitors will be able to use the memorial as a place for reflection, as he feels that attitudes to war are much more equivocal than they were in WWII, when the vast majority of people accepted that Nazism could only be dealt with through war:

    "People are asking questions, and we want to provide a place where [they] can sit and contemplate."


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  6. RAMC researcher

    RAMC researcher Junior Member

    Levein - my father was a conscientious objector who served with the 11th Field Ambulance which served in North Africa, Italy and Austria during WW2. He was a Christian who was strongly opposed to war and could not undertake to take another life. I have original letters which are testimonials to the fact that his beliefs were genuine and long-standing. It seems from my recent research that the 11th Fd Amb was composed of three companies: HQ Company, A Company and B Company. From just one photograph I have, he is with a group of about 40 men with a handwritten sign saying 11th Fd Amb, HQ Coy, Tunis 1943. So from this I have to conclude he was with the HQ Coy.

    Sorry to go off-topic a bit, but what exactly his duties with HQ Coy would have been I don't know. Would he have been a stretcher bearer, a first aider or just a clerk for example or a combination of all three - anyone know?
  7. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    By sheer coincidence and confirmed by one of my Army Records sheets I was handled by the 11th Feld Ambulance unit on the 11th March 1944 whilst at Cassino, en route to hospital at Naples with a nasty case of Imetigo.

    Dealing with your father's possible role at HQ this is sheer guess work and more likely than not it would have been in an administrive role. i would also be very surprise if he wasn't trained in First Aid during his time with the Field Ambulance unit.

    Whatever he did, you are entitled to be proud of your fathef.


    Pic shows 78 Div Order of Battle from Ken Ford's book on the Div.

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  8. Joe Brown

    Joe Brown WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    TRIBUTE to an Infantry Battalion’s Regimental Aid Post.

    This is based on an article in the 8th Battalion Royal Scots newspaper “First o’ Foot” published on the 15th December 1945 by the Battalion’s Education Department.

    Five German 88mm shells rent asunder a solitary house of the banks of the Escaut on a murky September evening in 1944. Black smoke and tongues of flame shot skywards and then came the revving of engines.

    ‘The R.A.P. has been hit!’ echoed throughout HQ Company of the 8th Royal Scots and volunteers and trucks were soon on the scene to rescue the wounded, the brave soldiers of the Royal Scots who had been unmercifully shelled by the enemy.

    During the hectic and tenacious battle against the German stand at the Gheel Canal in Belgium where the enemy repeatedly counter-attacked in their efforts to halt the Allied advance, the 8th Royal Scots Regimental Aid Post fought against terrific odds to succour and evacuate the wounded. It was not accomplished without cost – many first-class soldiers laid down their lives during the operation.

    Escaut was another example of the supreme heroism which characterised the work of the R.A.P. More often than not they were forced to set up a dressing station right in the line of fire with the knowledge that the enemy was indiscriminate in his choice of targets. But sheer determination and complete disregard for danger always carried them through, and when we recall that the Battalion suffered 1102 casualties from the Normandy bridgehead to the Odon River, it is possible to visualise the immensity of their task.

    Joe Brown
  9. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

  10. chrisgrove

    chrisgrove Senior Member

    While I have no knowledge of procedures to deal with conscientious objectors, it has been standard practise for years that Regimental bands are used in a para medic role while on active service. However, while thirty years ago every infantry battalion in the British Army had a band, times have changed and there are now very few bands left. When I joined my regiment in 1961 there were four regular battalions in the Home Counties Brigade - with four bands. When I finally retired there were two regular battalions (despite having absorbed a further regiment on the way) and, as far as I can make out, one TA band. Certainly, one of those battalions recently on public duties had only the Corps of Drums (aka Battalion HQ defence platoon) to provide music. Bands are more likely to be attached to Field Hospitals as mentioned above, than to be useful to infantry battalions as stretcher bearers.


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