History

Introduction

I am attempting to upload the history of the Unit over the next few days so that as much of the information that was on the previous site is online again before the 11th of November.

The official War Diary of the 130th (St John) Field Ambulance is available to download from the National Archives (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk) reference number WO95/2549/2 and is entitled '130 Field Ambulance'. This document is hand written and it is often difficult to decipher both the handwriting as well as the military shorthand. The Diary starts on the 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 in the Diary of this Unit than in the War Diaries of other units that I have read). There are many examples of the War Diary recording 'nothing of note to report'  for the activities of a particular day 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 boon nothing of military note to report, from the point of view of the men of the Unit, much of note did occur. 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 in Flanders 1916
Sports Day in Flanders 30th September 1916

 This photograph is reproduced here by kind permission of Philip Groves - Grandson of 48119 Pte George Groves.

I was planning over the course of the Centenary of the Great War to write a detailed history of the Unit by using the War Diary as the skeleton and flesh it out with detail from the private letters, diaries, photographs etc of men who served in the Unit that have so generously been sent to me. This, I hope will provide a much fuller and more colourful history of the Unit and I trust will be of interest to any relatives of the men who served in the Unit as well as many others. Unfortunately, work and family commitments, a move of house and the malicious hacking of the original website have delayed me but I fully intend to continue this work to the very end so that it can survive as a lasting tribute to the officers and men who served in this unique medical unit. If any any time in the future, anyone has any information regarding this Unit or the men who served in it that they would be willing to share, I would be most grateful if the would be in contact as every little bit of additional information helps build a better picture of the Unit and of the officers and men who served in it.