Battle Casualties

The organization of medical services, as laid out in Field service Regulations Vol 1 from Corps level down is as follows:

The Deputy Director of Medical Services (D.D.M.S) was responsible for overall command of the Casualty Clearing Stations within the Corps area, ensuring all technical matters are communicated down to Divisional level and also had operation control over the motor ambulance column (an Army Service Corps unit).

The Assistant Director of Medical Services (A.D.M.S) was the representative of the D.D.M.S at divisional level and was responsible for advising Division HQ of all medical matters. In addition he was in overall command of Divisional medical units (e.g. The Regimental Aid Posts (R.A.P) and Field Ambulance units).

Every battalion had a R.A.P. It was recommended to site it as close as possible to battalion HQ and also with all round access to the forward company localities. It should be provided with protection from rifle, grenade and mortar fire. It normally consisted of a reception area, treatment area and evacuation area. It was also the place men would report sick to. Casualties would be removed from the battlefield to the R.A.P by stretcher bearers, usually attached to each company HQ (e.g. 11th HLI Defence Scheme). Company lorries would be used if possible.

The role of the Field Ambulance was to collect the sick and wounded from the R.A.P and evacuate them to the Advanced Dressing Station (A.D.S) or Casualty Clearing Station. The A.D.S was to be prepared to hold patients for 72 hours if necessary. Although a divisional unit, a Field Ambulance was allotted to a Brigade. The Field Ambulance consisted of a HQ and two companies, each company divided into three sections. The HQ would maintain the more elaborate equipment and normally formed the A.D.S. Each section included bearer squads and medical equipment. Each section would form a Casualty Collection Post from which casualties would be brought from the R.A.P and then collected by ambulance cars if possible. Casualties would be removed from the A.D.S to an Evacuation Hospital. In 1940 Evacuation Hospitals in Suffolk were:

  • Lowestoft General Hospital
  • Cottage Hospital, Beccles
  • St. Audreys Hospital, Melton
  • Hartismere Hospital, Eye
  • East Suffolk Hospital, Ipswich
  • Borough Hospital, Ipswich
    • Medical supplies were held by Eastern Command Medical Stores, Bell Works, Herefield, Middlesex. The Officer Commanding Field Ambulance, who usually acted as Senior Medical Officer to Brigade, would then issue supplies to Medical Officers, ADS etc as necessary.

      Below is a diagrammatical representation of the chain of evacuation of the wounded.

      Administration procedures for casualties were as follows:

      As a result of enemy action: to be telegraphed to War Office, Casualties Section and confirmed in writing the same day. Daily reports to be produced and submitted to Brigade HQ detailing the number of all ranks killed, wounded, missing or taken prisoner.

      Not as a result of enemy action: Nominal roles to be submitted as above. A Court of Enquiry to be held to inquire into the cause of the fatality.

      Arrangements were also made for burials. The procedures differed between normal state of affairs and under a state of operational conditions.

      Under normal conditions the following civil cemeteries had special plots reserved for service burials:

      Beccles Cemetery, Framlingham Cemetery, Bungay Cemetery, Debenham New Cemetery, Halesworth New Cemetery, Eye Cemetery, Bury St Edmunds Cemetery, Felixstowe New Cemetery, Hadleigh Cemetery, Ipswich Cemetery, Lowestoft Cemetery, Stowmarket Cemetery, Stowupland Cemetery, Stoke-by-Clare Cemetery, Woodbridge Cemetery, Lowestoft Normanton Drive cemetery, Lowestoft Kirkley Cemetery, Wickham Market Cemetery, Saxmundham Cemetery and East Bergholt Cemetery.

      All units were expected to give the R.A.F any help as required in the burial of enemy dead airmen.

      Under operational conditions, any burial place could be extended if necessary. Isolated graves were to be avoided (e.g. 6th King’s Own Scottish Borderers) and burials were to be concentrated in improvised cemeteries as far as possible. The principal factors governing the choice of cemetery were:

      1) Ground along and existing cemetery or church
      2) The site should not obstruct a right of way
      3) If there is any choice the corner of a field (rather than the center) or poor quality land should be selected.

      Enemy burials were to be dealt with in exactly the same way except that separate plots were to be used as far as was practical.

      References:

      11 HLI papers, TNA
      6th K.O.S.B papers, TNA
      125 Brigade papers, TNA
      R.A.M.C Training Pamphlet No.2, The War Office, 1943

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