National Archives catalogue reference WO 177/701

 

Abbreviations

2 I/C

A/C

ADMS

Amb

Bde

Bn

CB

DADH

Div

Fd

NO

OC

O Group

OR

RAMC

RMO

Sit Rep

Second-in-Command

Aircraft

Assistant Director Medical Services

Ambulance

Brigade

Battalion

Confined to Barracks

Deputy Assistant Director Hygiene

Division

Field

Nursing Orderly

Officer Commanding

Orders Group

Other Ranks

Royal Army Medical Corps

Regimental Medical Officer

Situation Report

 

Note: The 16 Parachute Field Ambulance war diary for the period 17th - 25th September 1944 was lost during the fighting at Arnhem. As such this diary contains very little reference to the role of the Ambulance at Arnhem but follows the elements of the unit which remained behind in Britain.

 

Month and year: September 1944

Commanding Officer : Lieutenant-Colonel E. Townsend

 

1st September 1944

Place: Culverthorpe, Lincolnshire

 

Preparation for operation proceeds.  O.C. visited A.D.M.S.  News received that all RAMC personnel (5) in first sea party have been returned to U.K.  Four of them are now included in the Glider Party.

 

1130 - Officers briefed by O.C. and provisional time table arranged.

 

1400 - Bombing up on airfields.  Section 3 + 4 (Capt Keesey and Tobin) left unit via airfields to join 3 & 2 Bn respectively.  Glider loading proceeding at Keevil.  Message received at 2230 hrs that Glider loading complete but O.C. Glider Party (Sgt. Price) admitted to Hospital ? fractured wrist. Sgt [?] detailed as relief + arrangements to transport him to airfield laid on.

 

2nd September 1944

Place: Culverthorpe, Lincolnshire

 

0830 - O.C's briefing of unit - officers + men.  Chute fitting, first equipment check and section briefing during the morning.

 

1330 - Container chutes fitted on containers at airfield.  Weather bad - storm conditions.

 

1630 - R.M.O's conference to tie up details of medical plan.

 

1730 - O.C's final talk to all taking part in operation.

 

2000 - O.C. called to Bde Commander O Group.  Change of plan likely.

 

2300 - OPERATION CANCELLED - reason "no longer required".  Unit + formation remains at 36 hrs notice - further operation likely.

 

3rd September 1944

Place: Culverthorpe, Lincolnshire

 

Necessary steps "laying off" taken.  Aircraft remained tanked up + gliders loaded but chute collected.  Belgian money + special tablets etc collected in.  Men allowed out.  Officers' activity on a high level - O.C. called to "O" Group at 1730, but postponed to 21.30 hrs.

 

2130 - Bde Commanders "O" Group - operation laid on, D.Z. West of Maastricht - D.Day 4 Sept.  Take off 1200 hrs.

 

2300 - Just before leaving Bde HQ on completion of "O" Group - message arrived cancelling operation - reason Americans already reached the area.

 

4th September 1944

Place: Culverthorpe, Lincolnshire

 

Unit mostly engaged in Harvesting.  Visit to MARCO, oerliken work arranged for men in afternoon.

 

5th September 1944

Place: Culverthorpe, Lincolnshire

 

Harvesting.

 

6th September 1944

Place: Culverthorpe, Lincolnshire

 

1730 - Bde. Commanders "O" Group.  OPERATION COMET.

 

7th September 1944

Place: Culverthorpe, Lincolnshire

 

0830 - Fitting chutes, overhauling equipment, checking Aircraft + containers.

 

0930 - Visit by A.D.M.S. - this operation though a Divisional Op is three independent brigade operations.

 

1100 - O.C's briefing.

 

1800 - O.C's final word.  All preparations complete.

 

2330 - Operation postponed 24 hrs for bad weather.

 

8th September 1944

Place: Culverthorpe, Lincolnshire

 

Revision of medical plan as result of later intelligence after O.C's visit to Brigade Commander.

 

1430 - All R.M.O's + Fd. Amb. officers conference to tie up medical arrangements, which are now much more satisfactory.  They are simple + elastic & should cover this difficult operation (from the medical point of view).

 

1930 - Postponed 24 hrs owing to weather + slow advance of relieving force.

 

9th September 1944

Place: Culverthorpe, Lincolnshire

 

1930 - Postponed 48 hrs, reason not stated.  Men still C.B. but sent in an organised party to arrive Grantham.

 

10th September 1944

Place: Culverthorpe, Lincolnshire

 

1800 - Op COMET cancelled - due to slow progress of ground forces & thickening of enemy defences. (Op order attached)

 

11th September 1944

Place: Culverthorpe, Lincolnshire

 

Men de-briefed and allowed out.  Harvesting.  O.C. visited Glider Party at Keevil - Conditions in Transit Camp unsatisfactory - feeding not very good, no facilities for recreation or entertainment, no baths.

 

12th September 1944

Place: Culverthorpe, Lincolnshire

 

Bde Commander O Group at 1130  - preliminary briefing for Operation "Market".  Dates to be confirmed later.

 

13th September 1944

Place: Culverthorpe, Lincolnshire

 

24 hour passes issued to all possible operational personnel.

 

14th September 1944

Place: Culverthorpe, Lincolnshire

 

Information regarding "Market" has so far been passed only to 2 i/c - remainder of men & officers have not been informed.

 

15th September 1944

Place: Culverthorpe, Lincolnshire

 

Arrangements made for operation "Market".

 

16th September 1944

Place: Culverthorpe, Lincolnshire

 

Men confined to barracks - loading up.

 

1800 - Briefing for Market by O.C.

 

17th September 1944

Place: Culverthorpe, Lincolnshire

 

1157 - Bde emplaned and took off for op "Market".

 

18th September 1944

Place: Culverthorpe, Lincolnshire

 

Unit residue clean up billets.  All personnel relegated to quarters on 1st floor.  Two top floors cleared.

 

19th September 1944

Place: Culverthorpe, Lincolnshire

 

Unit fatigues continued.  It is heard that none of the planes was lost on the drop.

 

20th September 1944

Place: Culverthorpe, Lincolnshire

 

Available personnel help [?] the harvest.

 

21st September 1944

Place: Culverthorpe, Lincolnshire

 

As yet no Sit. Rep. of 1st Airborne Div is available.

 

22nd September 1944

Place: Culverthorpe, Lincolnshire

 

Sit. Reps now available at Bde HQ residue.

 

23rd / 24th September 1944

Place: Culverthorpe, Lincolnshire

 

Nil to upset concerning residue.  Considerable concern on 1st Div situation.

 

25th September 1944

Place: Culverthorpe, Lincolnshire

 

Re-supply falling into enemy hands to considerable extent.

 

26th September 1944

Place: Culverthorpe, Lincolnshire

 

1st Airborne Div evacuated over Lower Rhine.

 

27th September 1944

Place: Culverthorpe, Lincolnshire

 

No information available as to fate of 16th.  Radio transmissions from B.B.C. state "all RAMC units stayed with wounded in Arnhem".

 

28th September 1944

Place: Culverthorpe, Lincolnshire

 

Remnants of Division expected with wounded to arrive by air today or tomorrow.

 

29th September 1944

Place: Culverthorpe, Lincolnshire

 

Unit representatives warned to attend Barkston Heath and Saltby Airfields at 1300 hrs to receive remnants of Division.  2 [N.O.s?] despatched to each airfield for attention to wounded before their evacuation to Grantham Civil and Nottingham City Hospitals.

 

1930 - 46 C47 a/c arrived at Barkston among which was one a/c carrying minor wounded who were despatched (19 in all) to Grantham Hospital.  No members of this unit have returned on these a/c or those at Saltby or Woodhall Spa.  No news of them from survivors, almost certainly stayed with wounded at Arnhem.  14 a/c arrived at Saltby with no wounded.

 

30th September 1944

Place: Culverthorpe, Lincolnshire

 

No information available as to fate of 16th or any of its members.

 

 

Month and year: October 1944

Commanding Officer : Lieutenant J.G. Brown R.A.M.C.

 

1st October 1944

Place: Culverthorpe, Lincolnshire

 

Little news of R.A.M.C. personnel.  Only known to have returned Capt. Swinscow Reconnaissance.  Major Richards DADH.

 

2nd October 1944

Place: Culverthorpe, Lincolnshire

 

Conference Bde HQ by General Urquhart at which he stated that 4th Bde and 1st would amalgamate and be known as 1st Bde.  Future of Fd. Amb. not known.

 

3rd October 1944

Place: Culverthorpe, Lincolnshire

 

1700 - 2nd Seaborne Tail returns in good order not having set foot in France.

 

4th October 1944

Place: Culverthorpe, Lincolnshire

 

2nd Seaborne Elements sent on 14 days leave.

 

5th October 1944

Place: Culverthorpe, Lincolnshire

 

1500 - 1st Seaborne Party arrive - contact with the enemy at Nijmegen and assisted in Evacuation of 1st Airborne Div.  Report enemy mostly consisting of poor quality troops - own troops had had enough.  Partisans only in evidence after battles - Dutch reception is no way comparable to that of Belgian which was at times almost embarrassing.

 

6th October 1944

Place: Culverthorpe, Lincolnshire

 

1st Seaborne Party  commence leave (14 days).  Residue = 1 officer 5 ORs.

 

7th to 13th October 1944

Place: Culverthorpe, Lincolnshire

 

Still no news official or by hearsay of any members of 16th.  Fate of remnants of Division still not officially known.