Jerseys China Intro


The official War Diary of the 130th (St John) Field Ambulance is available to download from the National Archives ( reference number WO 95/2549/2 and is titled '130 Field Ambulance'. This document is hand written and it is often difficult to decipher both the handwriting as well and the military shorthand. The Diary only starts on 3rd December 1915 when the Unit marched from Winchester to embark for France and largely concerns the location of the Unit, the activities of the Officer Commanding and the Military activities of the Unit. While Officers are often mentioned by name, other ranks are much less frequently named (although much more frequently than in other war diaries I have read). There are many examples of the War Diary recording 'nothing of note to report' while other sources of information such as the private diaries of the men who served in the Unit, letters and photographs clearly demonstrate that while there may have been nothing of military note to report, from the point of view of the men in the Unit, much of note did occur on the day. A good example is Saturday 30th September 1916. The Unit War Diary records 'Nothing of note to report' while the photograph below tells a different story.

Sports Day, Saturday 30th September 1916

 Image by kind permission of Philip Groves - Grandson of 48119 Pte George Groves (arrowed)

Over the course of the Centenary of the Great War, I intend to write a detailed history of the Unit by using the War Diary as the skeleton and flesh it out with detail from private letters, diaries, photographs etc of men who served in the Unit that have so kindly and generously been sent to me. This, I hope will provide a much fuller and more colourful history of the Unit and I trust it will be of interest to any relatives of men who served in the Unit and many others as well.

If anyone has any information about the Unit that they would be willing to share, I would be most grateful if they would be in contact as every little bit of additional information helps build a better picture of the Unit and the Officers and men who served in it.