Resume of History
5 FIELD AMBULANCE
RESUME’ OF HISTORY 1915-to present
- C.W.Bean-Official history of Australia in World War 1.
- Lloyd Tann 1987. 2/5th Field Ambulance.A.I.F. 1940-1945.
- Major John de Witt ED (RL) – Post 2nd World War. (Dec.)
- Alan Curry OAM (Hon Sect-1990-current)
1. At the outbreak of war on August 14,1914 the Australian Army had only one Medical Officer,the Surgeon General W.D.C. Williams (later Sir W.D.C. Williams, KCMG CB) who died of illness in 1919. Medical Officers for the Army were drawn from Officers of the Citizen Army and such civilians who volunteered.
2. 5th Field Ambulance was raised on the 16th March 1915 when A and B Sections were formed at Liverpool NSW. The Unit was brought up to strength by the addition of C Section and the Field Ambulance was moved to Queens Park, Waverely NSW.
3. The main body of the Unit embarked for EGYPT on the 25th of June 1915. The Unit served with distinction in EGYPT,GALLIPOLI and FRANCE. On the nights 19/20/21 August 1915, 5 Brigade landed, as reinforcements, on Gallipoli—5th Field Ambulance landed with them as medical support for the 17th, 18th, 19th & 20th Battalions of the Brigade.
Following the withdrawal from GALLIPOLI, the Brigade re-grouped in EGYPT before departing for the Western Front in early 1916.
The following battle areas were attended; (In alphabetical order, for reference purposes); ALBERT (1918), AMIENS (8th August 1918), BAPAUME (1917), BEAUREVOIR, BROODSEINDE, BULLECOURT (3-4 May 1917), DERNANCOURT, FRANCE & FLANDERS (1916-1918), HAMEL, HINDENBERG LINE, MENIN ROAD (20-22 September 1917), MONTBREHAIN (3rd October 1918), MONT ST QUENTIN (31st August 1918), POELOAPPELE (Belgium-9th-19th October 1917), PASSCHENDAELE, POLYGON WOOD, POZIERS (25th July 1916-5th August 1916), SOMME (1916-1918), VILLIERS-BRETONNEAUX and YPRES (1917).
4. The Unit won the following Honours and Decorations:- 1 DSO, 2 DCM, 1 MM and Bar, 37 MM’s.
5. The Unit was disbanded in England in 1919.
6. 5th Field Ambulance was re-raised as a Militia Unit in 1921 with 14 Field Ambulance at the Addison Rd., Marrickville Training Depot. Each Unit had a large percentage of men from the NSW Tramway and Omnibus First Aid. They mainly came from the Newtown and Waverley Depots.
7. At the outbreak of war in 1939 the Unit formed a Camp Dressing Station, which was disbanded and became 2 Camp Hospital (and later 2 Military Hospital—at Ingleburn)
8. The 2/5th Australian Field Ambulance was raised in Victoria in 1940 and embarked for TOBRUK in January 1941.
9. This Unit served in EGYPT, SYRIA, NEW GUINEA and BORNEO. It won 1 DCM, 1 MBE, 1 MM and 4 MID’s
10. 5th Field Ambulance was again raised as a C.M.F. Unit in April 1948, at “P” Block Victoria Barracks.
11. Lt.Col. Reg Wherrett was appointed C.O. (he was one of the few Medical Officers during the war who qualified at a Staff College).
12. 2 IC was Major Tom Ritchie (of Middle East fame).
13. QM was Capt.Ron Henschell.
14. Adjt. was Capt.Syl Timbs. Some of the original MO’s were Capt. David Madison, (later to become Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Newcastle Uni and consultant Psychiatrist at AHQ, attended 2 District Court Marshall’s in VIETNAM to give evidence.
15. Capt. Terry Horne (don’t call me “stiffy”) later FRCS and FRACS, ADMS Tasmania Command and did a Tour of Duty with the Field Hospital SVN. There was no ARA Adjutant in those days.
16. The first ARA Cadre was WO 2 Frank Garnham, AMC PMF pre war and Cpl. L.O’Brien, who actually served with 5th Field Ambulance in FRANCE in WW 1 and who had also served with the AMC somewhere in WW 2, I cannot recall where, and, who stayed on in the Interim Army about 1953.
17. In 1950, because of the increased administration of CMF Units, an ARA Adjt. was added to the establishment and Major Harold Farthing (ex 2/1 AGH GAZA) was posted but did not stay long, Capt. John de Witt took up the Adjutant’s appointment in Sept. 1951 on completion of the first NS Intake from 19 NS Trg Bn and within 6 months the strength of the Unit was over 250 with a full compliment of officers with some supernumerary.
18. In Nov 1951 the ARA Cadre raised 1st Field Dressing Station with Major Ritchie appointed OC, Capt. Timbs was Adjutant (CMF) with a few of 5 Field Ambulance NCO’s with a NS Intake and they went off to Annual Camp in Feb 1952 as Medical support to Cadet Brigade. At this camp a number of Cadets were killed and injured after “bouncing” an UXB (a 37 mm round) on a tent floor. One of the original Medical Officers of 1 FDS was Fred Grace who has recently retired as Hon. Colonel.
19. Major (now Lt.Col.) David Rothfield later commanded 1 FDS and this Unit featured in the great flood of Singleton in 1955 and the Carrowbrook disaster of 1956. It was at this camp that John de Witt had the AAF A22’s signed for Ross Brown and Warwick Wilkinson who were driving jeeps for the SUR although they were qualified Pharmacists. (Privates one day and Lieutenants the next. Both of them have stayed on in the Reserves in various postings and have reached the rank of Lt.Col. and Colonel respectively.)
20. In the middle of June 1952 the ARA Cadre raised 1 General Hospital which initially was to be a Supplementary Reserve unit within Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and commanded by Colonel Edgar Thompson, the Superintendent of RPA ex 2/6 AGH.
21. Because of the large intakes of NS personnel posted to the RAAMC this unit was changed to be a full CMF Unit on the ORBAT.
The Cadre of 5 Field Ambulance was the only Cadre I know of that administered 3 CMF Units with strengths of some 250 plus for 5 Field Ambulance, 180 or so for 1 FDS and 110 for 1 Gen. Hosp. Later, in 1954, Cadres were allotted to 1 FDS and 1 Gen.Hosp.
22. It could be said that 5 Field Ambulance and 1 FDS have really been the nursery of the RAAMC A Reserve since the war. Although 1 Field Ambulance and 8 Field Ambulance had produced some fine Officers it was because of their country affiliation which did not allow for some of the senior postings to be filled in the City—this can easily be seen when you look at the long serving and senior people of the Corps, nearly all had their beginnings in 5 Field Ambulance or 1 FDS.
23. The changes of location of 5 Field Ambulance – raised in “P” Block Victoria Barracks 1948 then moved to the Sig.Trg.Depot in Moore Park in Nov. 1951. Moved again to the old training Depot at the back of Vic. Barracks in 1958 or 1959 (and 1 FDS went to Addison Rd, Marrickville.)
After the PENTROPIC re-organisation in 1959 or 1960 it moved to Carrington Rd, Randwick (1 FDS was disbanded, 1 Field Ambulance left 1 Armoured Bde and moved from Homebush to Chatswood and 8 Field Ambulance (Newcastle) was disbanded. 1 Field Ambulance took over the 8 Field Ambulance Depots at Newcastle and West Maitland becoming an integrated City/Country Unit. Prior to this the RAAMC load was spread well in the CMF formation: i.e. 1 Field Ambulance with 1 Armd Bde, 5 Field Ambulance with 5 Inf Bde, 8 Field Ambulance with 14 Inf Bde, 1 FDS with 8 Inf Bde and 1 Gen Hosp with Cadet Bde.
24. In March 1965, the Unit, under the command of Lt.Col. R.K.Reid celebrated its 50th Anniversary with a Parade and Service. It was held on the site of the first camp at Queens Park, Waverley, NSW. Many of the original 5 Field Ambulance personnel attended this Parade.
25. I consider this re-org. down to and including when the Pentropic Division was “axed”, the RAAMC were holding a “short straw” on establishments especially with the VIETNAM WAR looming.
26. After this war concluded we had another re-org. “chaired” by Col. Dunstan and Brig. Bennett (later General CDFS) which made 5 Field Ambulance a “R” Unit and they were struck off the ORBAT.
27. The last Parade was held on the 9th March 1976 and commanded by Lt.Col. P.J. (Jim) McGrath. Capt.D.Cannon, who was 2 IC of 2 Prev.Med.Coy., was present at this Parade—the Unit “folded” in April 1976.
28. The list of C.O’s from 1948 to 1976 were:- R.WHERRETT 1948-1954, T.J.RITCHIE 1954-1957, R.D.ROTHFIELD 1957-1960, G.CLIFTON-SMITH 1960-1963, J.LAING 1963-1964, R.K.REID 1964-1966, I.H.E.DAWSON 1966-1969, B.N.PURSER 1969-1972, R.K.ATKINSON 1972-1974, P.J.McGRATH 1974-1976.
29. The Unit was re-raised on the 6th February 1989 by the “re-rolling” of 1 Gen.Hosp.—it was based at Carlow St., Crows Nest and the CO was Lt.Col. Derek Cannon. Other key personnel were Capt. Nick Read (Adjt), WO Bob Perry (RSM), Major Phil Yantsch (OC Med. Coy.), Major Stuart Jones (OC Admin), WO 2 Ray Borg (RQMS), WO 2 Fran Hamblin (Trg. WO), Major Trevor Barnes (Senior Nursing Officer).
30. The unit celebrated its return to ORBAT with a Dinner at North Sydney in July 1989, attended by the Commander of 2 Div., Maj.Gen. Keldie and many old Unit Members.
31. During Annual Camp in 1990 in the Hunter Valley, the unit celebrated its 75th Birthday on the 16th March (with cake and scant regard to “TURN-TO”).
32. Lt.Col. Suresh Badami OAM took over command on the 6 August 1992 following the retirement of Lt.Col. Derek Cannon.
33. Major (now Lt.Col.) Marie Doyle (Dec.)was appointed OC of the Medical Company on 1st July 1995. The Unit moved from Carlow St. in Sept. 1995 to Hills St., Banksmeadow and it was at this time that Base Administrative Support Battalions came into the picture and 5 Field Ambulance became part of 5 BASB and known as 5 BASB Med.Coy. (5 Field Ambulance RAAMC). Maj. Marie Doyle finished her appointment in December 1999.
34. Major Andrew Ellis was appointed OC in January 2000. 5 BASB has undergone a further NAME CHANGE to be now 5 CSSB (Combat Service Support Battalion). The Med.Coy. is now known as Health Company, 5 CSSB.
35. Capt.Michael Tyquin was appointed O.C. 5 CSSB, Health Company, on 1 July 2002.
36. A Centenary Parade was held on the 15th March 2015 at Queens Park, Waverley, Sydney. After the Parade a Centenary Luncheon was held at 5 CSSB Depot at 1 Hills Street, Baknsmeadow, Sydney. The entire proceedings are on DVD and the synopsis of the day is recorded in our Association's Newsletter- ANZAC Day Newsletter-AUTUMN Issue 2015.
37. In April 2015, 5 CSSB (including Health Company) moved from 1 Hills St, Banksmeadow to their new location at Mont St Quentin Lines, Holsworthy.
Compiled by Major John de Witt ED (Passed Away 12/8/2012) February 2002 & updated by Alan Curry OAM (Hon Sect) from 2012.
The O.C’s of the Health Company that followed CAP (now MAJ) Michael Tyquin (2002-2003) have been Major (now Lt.Col.) Darren Waterson (2004-2006 , Major Brian Malouf (2007-2009),Major Kym Henderson (2009-2011), MAJ David Czerkies (2012-2015), MAJ Jane Currie (2016-2018) Currently, the OC (2019-) is MAJ Glenn Sisson.
The current Commanding Officer of 5 CSSB is LTCOL Stephen Mncshelyl
Alan Curry OAM (0427.82.4646)
Hon Sect 5 Fd. Amb. RAAMC Assn. (web site: raamc.org.au/associations)