4th Field Ambulance

From Our Contribution

4th Field Amb Gallipoli.jpg
Staff at the 4th Field Ambulance Hospital on the Gallipoli Peninsula. AWM photo 00680

Brief History

The Field Ambulance was a complete medical unit made up of previously separate and independent entities. These were The Bearer Division [previously working as Bearer Companies]; The Tent Division [previously working as Field Hospitals] and The Transport Division. The Field Ambulance at full strength composed of 10 Officers and 224 men. The Bearer Division had 18 stretcher squads each of 6 men. The Tent Division was comprised of doctors: 9 medical officers and 1 dental officer, as well as 1 Quartermaster of stores, batmen, clerks, cooks, dispensers, nursing orderlies, and the Transport Division, which had 60 men attached from the Army Service Corps. All this made up medical support for one infantry brigade. [Three to every Division].

The 4th Field Ambulance was formed in Victoria, initially as part of the ANZAC Division. The unit was transported to Egypt as part of the 1st Convoy, with a change of ship in Colombo. On arrival in Alexandria they were transferred by rail to Heilwan and from there to Heliopolis where they undertook further training until early April 1915. The 4th Filed Ambulance travelled from Alexandria to Gallipoli aboard HMT Californian. Following a three day voyage the Ambulance reached Lemnos, remaining there until the armada sailed for Gallipoli. While some of the bearers landed late on the first day, it wasn't until 28 Apr 1915 that the rest of the Field Ambulance landed. After Gallipoli the Field Ambulance was assigned to the 4th Division along with the rest of the 4th Brigade, comprised of the 13th 14th 15th and 16th Battalions.

When an attack or advance was undertaken, the RAP would follow up the units' forward elements and were thus exposed to enemy direct fire (rifles and machine guns) and indirect fire (artillery mortar fire and even gas). The Field Ambulance would have personnel deployed forward to retrieve casualties from the Regimental Aid Post (RAP) to the Field Ambulance - generally described as a Casualty Clearing Station (CCS). They would have to deploy forward to reach the RAP, and thus come under the same risks as the front line combat troops. They may have had a number of means to assist in casualty evacuation from light rail, horse drawn vehicles and even motor vehicles. Or they could indeed also be stretcher borne. Field ambulance staff moved the wounded from the regimental aid post (just behind the front lines) to an advanced dressing station. The trip was about 1 to 3 miles (1.6 to 4.8km) and took around 6 hours to complete. Stretcher-bearers worked in relays. At least 36 stretcher-bearers handled each patient along the way.

Transport attached to a field ambulance included: three horse-drawn ambulance wagons; seven motorised ambulances; 10 general service wagons; three water carts; one motorcycle; one bicycle and one small two-wheeled Maltese cart.

Travelled from Alexandria to Gallipoli aboard HMT Californian, landing on 28 Apr 1915. This unit also served in France and Belgium. Fifty six personnel died while posted to this unit.

Unit Personnel


1915 Gallipoli





Individual Honours

  • 2 x Distinguished Service Order
  • 6 x Military Cross
  • 2 x Distinguished Conduct Medal
  • 1 x Bar to Military Medal
  • 49 x Military Medal
  • 4 x meritorious Service Medal
  • 9 x Mentioned in Despatches
  • 1 x Belgium Croix de Guerre
  • 1 x French Medaille Des Epidemies


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