Battle of Pilkem Ridge July-September 1917

Battle of Pilkem Ridge July – September 1917.

This page is under construction. As I work through the Unit War Diary and those private diaries that have been kindly send to me, I will add content to this page. I am working through the history of the 130th (St John) Field Ambulance in chronological order and will fill this page with full detail in due course.

130th (St John) Field Ambulance Military Medal winners Pilkem Ridge

With kind permission of Helen Cleaves – Granddaughter of 48542 Pte James Cleaves.

The photograph above depicts the five men of the 130th (St John) Field Ambulance who were awarded the Military Medal in August/September 1917 for acts of gallantry during the 3rd Battle of Ypres (Pilckem Ridge). It had to have been taken before January 1918 as Sgt Maj Stroud was evacuated to a CCS in January 1918 and did not rejoin the Unit. In the front row (left to right) are, 48192 Sgt Ernest Sweeting M.M., Lt Col J.E.H. Davies, 48071 Sgt Maj W. Stroud and the rear row (left to right) are 48196 L/Cpl William George Thomas M.M., 48186 L/Cpl David J Samuel M.M., 48221 Pte Oliver Young M.M. and 48626 Pte J Probert M.M..

48221 Pte Oliver Young’s Military Medal and Certificate

This photograph is by kind permission of Charles Young, Grandson of 48221 Pte Oliver Young M.M. This is the first example of a 38th (Welsh) Division Medal certificate we have ever seen and it is likely that all men in the Division (not just the men of the 130th (St John) Field Ambulance, who were awarded medals in the field, would have been given such a certificate but so few seemed to have survived or come to light.

Divisional Certificate for Gallantry awarded to 48594 Pte James William Ward

The Certificate abouve is with the kind permission of Mrs Jane Beecham, niece of 48594 Pte James William Ward. This is the second such certificate we have come across to men serving in the Unit. Divisional Certificates for Gallantry were the highest award that a Division could award on their own authority. Mentioned in Dispatches were from Army level and Medals by authority of the King. The designs of these certificates varied between Divisions and range from very plain paper forms to extremely ornate certificates. It is likely there were a number of men in the Unit that were awarded these certificates with just the 5 in the photo above going on to be awarded the Military Medal for the action at Pilkem ridge.


  1. I am eager to see what other information becomes available to read once this page is finished. Because I am trying to piece together the final day of one of my relatives. He died on 31/7/1917 during the battle for Pilkem Ridge. Which the 130th St John Field Ambulance was involved in. A record I have found says he was wounded and taken to a Casualty Clearing Station which was hit by shellfire and he was killed. But I thought these were always out of harms way. I have found references to Dunholland Advanced Dressing Station, and a Corps Dressing Station at Elverdinghe in the book, Hertfordshire Soldiers of The Great War. I’m hoping your work might uncover a record of any first aid posts hit by shellfire on this day in this area.

    • Robert – who was your relative and what was his regiment and number? I would have thought it unlikely that a Casualty Clearing Station was hit by shelling – possibly by bombing from a plane. I will try to identify which Casualty Clearing Stations were servicing the Pilckem Ridge wounded. Stephen Lyons (co Admin)

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