Private Diary: 125th Field Ambulance, R.A.M.C., April 1940 incl nominal roll

Discussion in '1940' started by dbf, Dec 9, 2011.

  1. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    "We received instructions to open a C.R. Station today, Thursday April 18th. 'A' Company was detailed for duty for the first week and Sergeant N. RYDER, Corporal T. TAYLOR and six Other Ranks were instructed to assist the Medical Officer Lieutenant D.J. CUSITER. The Station was to be situated at the ST. M. School, ANDOUILLE. This was in use as a school this morning, and other arrangements had to be made for the schoolchildren.

    At 1430 hours the Station staff, including Lieutenant CUSITER and Lieutenant ANNAND under the supervision of Major SISSONS (who also assisted) started to clean out the school, which was completed at 1630 hours and the C.R. Station was open, plc an M.I. Room.

    No patients were received today.

    Friday April 19th
    There was no business until 2030 hours when we admitted Driver S. ARMITAGE, 501st Ammunition Company, ROYAL ARMY SERVICE CORPS, with suspected tonsillitis.

    Saturday April 20th
    There was no business today and arrangements were made to transfer No. 1 Patient to the Civil Hospital SCINIQUE LE HOPITAL COMPLIANCE LAIRE at LAVAL. The transfer was carried out. We received instructions to close the Station at 1500 hours and this was completed at 1700 hours.

    The first C.R. Station was opened and closed."
  2. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Off again, by road this time. First day ANDOUILLE - LAVAL - MAYENNE - PRE ON PAIL - ALENCON - SEES - NONANT LE PAIN - LAIGLE - CONCHE - EVREUX.

    We spent the night at EVREUX, where we were disturbed by an Air Raid alarm, our first since ALNWICK. Later we learnt it was a leaflet raid between LE HAVRE and AMIENS.


    The whole two days, effort was rather unique. Our BRIGADE on the move takes up 36 miles of road.
  3. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    "It was on the morning of Monday 22nd of April 1940, at about the hour of 9 a.m. when in glorious sunshine we left our billets in the grounds of a Chateau about 1 1/2 miles out of the village of ANDOUILLE in the country of MAYENNE, FRANCE. This Chateau is the country residence of Madame le Comptesse de ROCHE COURBON, and is one of three which she owns, the other two being situated in CANNES and PARIS.

    We were issued with "iron rations" and the convoy moved off in the direction of LAVAL. We travelled at an average speed of 25 to 30 m.p.h., stopping on only a few occasions in the open country. These stops never occurred in the villages through which we passed unless it was unavoidable. We made good progress at first and even touched the speed of 45 m.p.h. for a few moments, and at midday the convoy was stopped for lunch of cheese or jam sandwiches according to taste.

    At 1 p.m. we resumed our journey and again made good time. It was interesting to see the way in which the villages and townspeople greeted us as we passed by. They came to their doors and waved and shouted friendly remarks to us in French. One or two even went so far as to throw kisses to the men as they passed by.

    Whenever we halted there was always an attempt to get into conversation with anyone near at hand, especially if that person be one of the fairer sex. The conversation usually started with the weather forecast and ended with the question of one's personal health. On one occasion the vehicle in which I was travelling stopped, and seeing a young woman standing on the roadside I spoke in the best French I could and asked her how she was and what was her name?, and to my astonishment she answered me in perfect English.

    By this time we had left the wooded type of country behind us and were now proceeding over wide, open plains. The hedges being very low and natural vegetation somewhat scarce we were able to see for miles around us. By now we had covered a matter of 100 miles and were nearing the first day's journey's end. At about 8 p.m. we arrived at our destination, which was the township of EVREUX, and we were glad to have a hot meal.

    Tuesday April 23rd 1940
    We made a later start today, being about 11 a.m. before we were able to get moving. The journey like the day before, was in beautiful weather, but the speed of the convoy was not to be compared and there were, in its early stages, a great many stops and starts. Shortly after leaving EVEREUX we passed a large French Aerodrome and were in time to see a number of 'planes taking off, some of which, flying low, passed just over to tops of the vehicles. The first stage of the journey was very short, for only an hour after starting we arrived at the town of VERNON and there we stopped for lunch. The allotted hour was spent just as the previous day, and at 1 p.m. we started off again.

    This time we made better progress and by 5.30 p.m. after passing through similar experiences as on the previous day, we arrived at our final destination, the "out of the way" village of BERGICOURT-par-POIX, SOMME."
  4. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    And that brought us to BERGICOURT. It was not nearly so good a billet as ANDOUILLE, no Chateau and no nice farms here, nevertheless it wasn't too bad and we were able to manage over to POIX (and once even to AMIENS) to do some shopping for the Mess. While the move had been very successful none of us were quite happy about the loading of vehicles.
  5. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    So on 27.4.40 we had a full day practice pace of all our equipment in the appropriate vehicles. What a job it was, but we got it done and all felt that it had been worth while. In the evening we went to the Cafe Trouille in the village and had a little singsong. It was very amusing to do down into the cellar and choose a good vin blanc, then sit upstairs playing dominoes and singing the "Marseillaise" with the landlord, and some of our old favourites such as Ilkley Moor.
  6. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Sunday 28th April 1940

    "In difficult surroundings to the previous week, with mud everywhere, dilapidated buildings with mud walls, backed by the ostentatious house of the local mayor, we once more assembled for our weekly Church Parade in the courtyards of the mayor's house. Much to everybody's regret our Commanding Officer was unable to attend the Parade.

    As is only natural he whole assembly was depressed by the gloomy atmosphere of the place in which we had to attend the service. But even with this feeling to contend with our PADRE soon roused us by the hymns which he had chosen. As before the singing was led by the cornets of Staff Sergeant TIMPERLEY and Private SCAMMEL.

    The PADRE, during his sermon, mentioned MANCHESTER, a place very dear to most of us at the present moment. The sermon itself concerned the interesting face that we all have someone who is witness every action which we do. And I think we were now in a foreign country and were surrounded by people who were judging us by our actions, and as such to remember the country we had left behind us.

    Owing to the absence of our Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Quartermaster BEARDWELL read the lesson, which was one of the Psalms. It was at this Service that a collection was taken for the destitute women and children of FRANCE caused by the war. As is customary we finished with the National Anthem and marched off with our Companies."
  7. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    In the afternoon the PADRE, the Quartermaster and the Dental Officer were sitting having afternoon tea in a cafe in POIX and there saw s further collection being taken for the Poor of the District. The Town Mayor, a Squadron Leader of the ROYAL AIR FORCE, a Baroness and her friend were trying to see how many matches could be balanced on the open mouth of a champagne bottle, every match dislodged costing the player five centimes. The climax was reached when the Town Mayor dislodged the whole pile and had to disburse 47 francs.
  8. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Sketch map

    Aerial photo taken 15 Sept 1947

    Attached Files:

  9. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Please note that the following images have been rotated 180 degrees in order to correspond with the above sketch map.


  10. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Thanks Mike


    Finished; any spelling mistakes, typos etc that jump out, please let me know.

    Just by way of explanation: the entire document is handwritten, presumably by (or for) Lt. Col. R I Poston. I have tried to extract the personal accounts which he placed in quotes and have highlighted them in posts of their own.

    The file title suggests it is his personal diary, but looks like a collation of accounts, joined together by a daily diary - perhaps this latter is the C.O.'s own.
  11. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

  12. kiwi72

    kiwi72 New Member

    hi i am new to this ,just wondering if there was anymore to the diary or any other diarys ,looking at the list of names 7367882 Private A.R Souto was my late grandfather he managed to get back to england on the 30th may 1940

    922897_10151417896583822_1943474684_n.jpg thats alfred on the far left with 2 unknown mates,taken before they left for france
    dbf and Drew5233 like this.
  13. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Hi and thanks for sharing the picture, did your grandfather ever tell the family anything about Dunkirk etc?

    The only other diary I know of is at the National Archives in London. All I can tell you about these diaries is they can be quite thick (500+ pages). I'm not very sure on the content either regarding details as I've not really copied any of them.

    WO 177/702 125 Field Ambulance 1939 Sept.- 1940 Dec.

    Have you tried the RAMC museum? I believe they have a good archive and may be able to help. I don't think they have any of the units war diaries though.

  14. kiwi72

    kiwi72 New Member

    he never did say a lot,unfortunately died when i was young so i never was able to find out a lot,i did get his army papers
  15. Tonst744

    Tonst744 Member

    dbf likes this.

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