My eldest son collects military medals and periodically hands me copies of medal auctions lists. While glancing through one earlier in 2013, I came across the medals pictured above awarded to 48192 Sgt Ernest Sweeting M. M. They aroused my interest for three reasons. Firstly, he was in the Royal Army Medical Corps as I had been, secondly, that his unit, the 130th (St John) Field Ambulance was formed from men of the St John Ambulance Association and I had served in my younger days in St John Ambulance and finally, his medals included the French Croix de Guerre. The final unit I served in before retiring my commission from the Army was 243 Field Hospital which during the First World War was the 43rd Field Ambulance, one of only nine British units to be awarded a unit Croix de Guerre. These three points of contact encouraged me to bid for the medals and having successfully acquired them, I set out to research both Sgt Sweeting's history as well as that of his unit, the 130th (St John) Field Ambulance and their activities during WW1. Sgt Ernest Sweeting was a teacher at Crindau Boys School in Newport when he joined up, married with one child.
Shorty after launching this website, Stephen Lyons joined me as a co-researcher and established the Wales/Cymru branch of our research group. As well as setting up and running the Facebook page, he has and continues to spend many hours each week scouring archives in Wales and on the internet for information about the Unit and the men who served in it and his assistance is invaluable. This site is the product of our research and is dedicated to the memory of the Officers and men who served in the 130th (St John) Field Ambulance. I hope it will be of interest and value to anyone who wishes to research their relatives who may have served in it.
I am most grateful for the help and assistance provided to me during my research that has enabled me to get thus far and I hope that as time goes by, others may contact me with further information that could be added to this site to better illustrate the men and their activities during WW1.
- The granddaughter of 48542 Pte James Cleaves and her husband, my co-researcher Stephen Lyons, have been of great assistance, generously and kindly providing me with copies of numerous photographs of members of the Unit and a transcript of his daily diary covering 1917 to 1918.
- I am especially grateful to Pamela Willis of the Museum of the Order of St John in London who not only provided me with copies of photographs of the Unit while in training in North Wales in the spring of 1915 but also kindly pointed me in the direction of the book by C J Parry (The Story of the Order of St John in the Principality of Wales) which contains nearly 30 pages of text and photographs relating the history of the Unit from its formation in December 1914 to its final days in 1919. This book is a "Must Read" for anyone interested in the 130th (St John) Field Ambulance.
- My thanks also go to C J Parry's grandson and the Hospitallers' Club of Wales for allowing me to reproduce some of the photographs from the book in this website.
- Mr Rob McIntosh (Curator) and his staff at the Army Medical Services Museum have been of great assistance and I am most grateful for the copy of the transcript of the diary of 48563 Pte. I Phillips M.M. which they supplied to me that has helped add a great deal of detail to the Official War Diary of the unit.
- The grandson of 48119 Pte George Groves has been of great assistance, generously and kindly providing me with a transcript of his grandfather's diary, photographs and other information relating to the unit.
- I would like to especially thank Eleanor, granddaughter of 48192 Sgt Ernest Sweeting M.M. for being in contact and providing me with numerous photographs of her Grandfather whose medals were the start of this research. Thank you.
- I extend most grateful thanks to Adrian Jickells, Grandson of 48554 Pte George Henry Jickells, and to the Jickells family for giving me access to a transcript of his diary.
- I am most grateful to Ray Maunder, son of 48160 L/Cpl William H F Maunder for providing me with copies of photographs of his father and also, extracts from his father's memoirs of his time serving in the 130th (St John) Field Ambulance.
- I am most humbly indebted to Mrs Marjorie Davies, daughter of 48098 Pte William E Coleman M.M. for providing photographs of her Father and his medals.
- The family of 48128 Sgt Francis B Sumption have been most generous in giving access to his diary and letter which provide invaluable detail to the history of the Unit.
- I can highly recommend the services of Jacqui Kenton (independent researcher at the National Library of Wales) who quickly and very efficiently carried out a very effective search of the Welsh local newspapers for articles relating to the 130th (St John) Field Ambulance, thus avoiding me having to make a costly visit to the other side of the UK. I can highly recommend her services.
Finally, I must thank my good friend Paul Constable for his website building expertise for creating this site. Such skill is way beyond my limited capabilities and I can recommend him to anyone who wishes a professional website construction. Paul is your man.