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Commander of last British Ambulance train speaks at NRM Railways and Warfare conference

Discussion in 'National Railway Museum' started by Dan Clarkson, Sep 6, 2016.

  1. Dan Clarkson

    Dan Clarkson Guest

    Posted by Alison Kay, NRM Archivist

    This Saturday (10 September) we will be holding our Railways and Warfare conference where Colonel (Rtd) Brian Robertson will be presenting his fascinating paper Ambulance Trains Past, Present and Future. Members of his ambulance train crew will also be visiting our exhibition Ambulance Trains and the conference as part of their staff reunion.

    Click here for more information about the event and to book tickets.

    331 and 337 Ambulance Trains on Exercise FOLDING BED 90 – Photograph Brian Robertson

    Brian Robertson was Commander of The Ambulance Train Squadron Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC (V)) (subsequently the Ambulance Train Group) from September 1985 to March 1994. His talk will describe the little known British ambulance train capability that existed throughout the Cold War and includes video footage of British Army Ambulance Trains operating in the British Army on the Rhine from the 1990s. He will also draw on his personal archive of ambulance train material to describe the development of ambulance trains from as far back as the Crimean War.

    The last British ambulance trains were based in Germany and based at Munchenglabach and exercised every year on the Deutsche Bahn (DB) network. The crew was made up of a total staff of 242 and included doctors, nurses, combat medical technicians, chefs, railwaymen and an electrician, some of whom will be with us on Saturday.

    The trains were never called upon operationally but could have delivered an important link in the casualty evacuation chain across Europe should hostilities have ever broken out.

    Brian says:

    Staff who served in the Ambulance Train Squadron and subsequently the Ambulance Train Group were the custodians of a very long heritage and tradition of service on Hospital and Ambulance Trains that go back to the South African War. We then kept that flame alive through the Cold War until the disbandment of British Army Ambulance Trains by the Ministry of Defence in 1995.

    The NRM exhibition Ambulance Trains focuses on the First World War but ambulance train history is much broader than this period. Early ambulance train design was so effective that it was carried on until the 1990s. Medical staff, although in different uniforms carried out exercises in spaces similar to those that used in the First World War and before.

    Ex-DB Byg rolling stock. Photograph – Brian Robertson

    Home ambulance train number 16. Photograph reproduced in Ambulance Trains and courtesy of the Willis Family

    Second World War Ambulance train. Image National Railway Museum

    Ex-DB Bcyl rolling stock interior, Photograph Brian Robertson

    The livery of the NRM train is based on a First World War overseas ambulance train, very similar to this more recent train. Ex-DB Bcyl rolling stock, image Brian Robertson

    After the end of the Second World War British Army ambulance trains were comprised of German stock. The most recent part of the ambulance train fleet were a number of ex-DB coaches. As you can see, their design does not differ very much from this British Second World War ambulance train.

    The post Commander of last British Ambulance train speaks at NRM Railways and Warfare conference appeared first on National Railway Museum blog.
  2. 7143

    7143 New Member

    Feb 16, 2015
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    There's a carriage from an ambulance train on display in the Army Medical Services Museum, Mytchett, near Aldershot. I understand it was build in Munich in 1957, in service until 1989 and brought to UK in 1992. When I last saw in a couple of years ago it wasn't in very good condition. 1957 ambulance train carriage 50 80 02-11 002-3.jpg

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