National Archives catalogue number WO 177/775.
Assistant Director Medical Services
British North Africa Force
Casualty Collection Point
Casualty Clearing Station
Main Dressing Station
Royal Army Medical Corps
Regimental Aid Post
Royal Army Service Corps
Regimental Medical Officer
Senior Medical Officer
Month and year: July 1943
Commanding Officer : Lt-Col. G.M. Warrack
1st July 1943
1130 - Major General G.F. HOPKINSON, Commander 1 Airborne Division visited the unit, inspected the lines and talked with the men.
1630 - Major General E.M. Cowell, Director of Medical Services North Africa visited the unit and saw some of the surgical equipment.
1730 - Section personnel from Number 2 Section provided a demonstration for Commander U.S. Airborne Forces and Major General Browning - Major Swan sent to 71 General Hosp with [epider? ply?osis].
1745 - Bde Exercise, bathing [?].
2nd July 1943
1700 - Conference of R.M.O.s for briefing for Exercise 'BIGOT'.
3rd July 1943
C.O. visited 18 C.C.S. & 71 General Hospital.
4th July 1943
0800 - Unit attended Brigade Church Parade.
1800 - Conference at ADMS office to discuss BIGOT.
5th July 1943
1 & 2 sections and surgical team packing stores.
6th July 1943
Divisional amn dump "went off". Ambulance stood by.
7th July 1943
Section personnel briefed for exercise HUSKY.
8th July 1943
a.m. - Section personnel packing for exercise BIGOT. General Sir Bernard Montgomery spoke to personnel taking part in 'exercise'.
9th July 1943
1755 - Personnel as attached appendix left by gliders on Exercise BIGOT. All crossed coast safely. Lt Martin rejoined unit.
10th July 1943
Major Swan rejoined unit from Hospital. Major Swan, 16 N.O's. 12 R.A.S.C. formed detachments for C.C.P's at airfields E & F.
11th July 1943
Lt Brownscombe rejoined unit with Pte Dukes & Pte Bryant from exercise 'Bigot'. A report was forwarded though. Captain Taylor rejoined unit. Detachment remained detached.
12th July 1943
Routine camp duties.
13th July 1943
a.m. - Major Swan with 8 N.Cs 6 R.A.S.C. rejoined unit.
p.m. - Unit bathing parade.
14th July 1943
a.m. - Routine duties.
p.m. - Lt Colonel Warrack, Captain Rigby Jones, and 12 O.Rs returned from exercise "BIGOT".
15th July 1943
Resting and cleaning.
1700 - 12 O.Rs returned from Exercise - having been attached to Battalions as extra orderlies.
16th July 1943
1200 - Station of Exercise party human Casualties. K NIL and 2. W NIL and 6. Missing Capt Greaves and 34 [men?]. Returned 3 & 27. Still in Sicily Capt Jones & 2.
1430 - C.O. left for Tunis to see if he could trace any casualties.
17th July 1943
3 O.Rs reported back from Exercise.
18th July 1943
Church parade attended by Brigadier.
1200 - State of exercise casualties Missing 1 & 31.
19th July 1943
1200 - 2 O.Rs reported back from Hospital in Malta. Total missing 1 & 30. [?] preliminary medical report on BIGOT.
20th July 1943
Capt J.G. Jones R.A.M.C. reported back from Duty with A.D.M.S. Airborne Div in Sicily. 1 OR reported back with him.
21st July 1943
1100 - Major W.R.H. Mackay RAMC reported to Strip E to fly to England and report on airborne equipment.
22nd July 1943
Reorganisation of unit, into 3 Companies for simplification of training and equipment.
23rd July 1943
24th July 1943
Information received that 1 S/Sjt 1 L/Cpl and 1 Pte on the missing list were at SUEZ.
25th July 1943
Commanding officer and Captain Graham Jones flew to Tripoli to trace wounded from exercise BIGOT.
26th July 1943
Water rationed to 1 Gallon a man - pipe line broken.
27th July 1943
28th July 1943
29th July 1943
Commanding officer reported back from Tripoli.
30th July 1943
31st July 1943
Training. Detailed report on Exercise BIGOT prepared and submitted to ADMS 1 Airborne Division.
Nominal Roll of Personnel Proceeding on Exercise
57723 Lt.Col. G.M. Warrack
216228 Capt. G. Rigby-Jones
7259229 R.S.M. Bryson, L.H.
7400360 Cpl. Buscaglis, A.
7387115 L/Cpl. Ginsberg, M.
7364537, Pte. Budd, F.J.
14275991 Pte. Jackson, A.P.
2613049 Pte. Martin, F.
7370806 Pte. Winter, V.N.
211739 Capt. J.G. Jones
Attached 2 S/Staffords
7372761 Cpl. Davis, F.A.
7400121 L/Cpl. Nuttall, R.
7521189 Pte. Ashurst, G.F.
7392926 Pte. Back, F.J.
7371719 Pte. Chirnside, J.
7394195 Pte. Clegg, T.
7393609 Pte. Curnock, I.
7400339 Pte. Eagles, L.J.
7364542 Pte. Eden, H.J.
7522737 Pte. Fernie, D.
7382362 Pte. Gardner, E.S.
7372035 Pte. Hope, H.A.B.
7265175 Pte. Richards, H.N.
7376510 Pte. Tollervey, E.O.
Attached 1 Borders
7348718 S/Sjt. Sanders, S.J.F.
7399598 L/Cpl. Kemp, B.F.
7364538 L/Cpl. Smith, C.A.T.
7406296 Pte. Bannister, T.J.
7381110 Pte. Boyce, A.H.
7382422 Pte. Foulke, H.B.
7522801 Pte. Hotston, A.E.J.
7378163 Pte. Hartley, R.
7406300 Pte. Instance, L.J.
7364541 Pte. Mabbott, E.W.
7407331 Pte. O'Neale, J.
Attached 9 Fd. Coy., RE.
7369272 Pte. Churcher, R.C.
87080 Capt. H.G. Greeves
7376512 S/Sjt. Neil, T.W.
7265252 L/Cpl. Caddick, H.
7349215 L/Cpl. Vincent, H.C.
7399385 Pte. Anderson, J.A.
7361814 Pte. Arnold, W.
7393010 Pte. Cheeseman, R.J.
7519935 Pte. Churm, J.
7364548 Pte. Cook, R.G.E.
7376527 Pte. Cornell, B.E.
7516615 Pte. Hughes, W.L.
7369120 Pte. Kenward, R.W.
7367735 Pte. Kennedy, P.
7399607 Pte. Oldfield, J.
7399699 Pte. Owen G.G.J.
7364572 Pte. Phillips, G.F.
7399936 Pte. Sanders, H.D.
7265675 Pte. Wardle, G.H.
7399495 L/Cpl. Potts, E.
246170 Lt. B. Brownscombe
7369240 S/Sjt. Salvage, R.W.
7376517 Cpl. Davies, J.L.
7376546 L/Cpl. Phillips, L.A.H.
7264880 L/Cpl. Walker, B.C.
7356195 Pte. Baker, C.J.
7361525 Pte. Bryant, G.F.
7265255 Pte. Cousins, F.
7380299 Pte. Dukes, B.W.
7377066 Pte. Grimshaw, G.L.
7374375 Pte. Hutchings, S.S.
7356931 Pte. Kirby, M.
7399601 Pte. Manley, W.T.
7370817 Pte. Neve, G.T.
7366512 Pte. Robbins, J.A.
7363846 Pte. Stafford, H.
7382377 Pte. Smith, G.
7402758 Pte. Thomas, T.D.
14364253 Pte. Toye, D.
7376076 Pte. Williams, E.M.
REPORT ON MEDICAL ASPECTS OF OPERATION "BIGOT"
1. Forces employed -
(a) Bn RAMC personnel were thickened up with Field Ambulance personnel - so that Battalions went in with 24 RAMC and 1 M.O. - in addition 2 orderlies were provided for each L. Area (2 in number).
(b) 1 section complete was attached to each Bn. - 6 WACO gliders were put at the disposal of Med.
(c) A surgical team (with officer anaesthetist) was taken.
(d) A skeleton H.Q. of O.C., R.S.M. & 1 N.C. travelled with Bde.
2. Equipment -
(a) Bn. RAMC personnel (inc. attached) were each equipped with Airborne haversacks or special haversacks, containing shell dressings, sulphaniloxide powder and tubes, scissors, S.B. Field Medical Cords, Morphia (6 tubonies).
(b) Fd. Amb sections - sufficient equipment was carried to open a forward D.S. Each member of the section carried a pack containing essential dressings and morphia in addition to the section equipment necessary for the dressing station.
(c) Surgical team carried sufficient to operate in conjunction with a Section.
3. Transport -
(a) Air - Each section was allotted 3 glider. Into these had to be fitted, in addition to the sections with transport, the surgical team.
(b) Wheeled - 1 blitz-buggy was taken by each section - in addition 1 ambulance trailer was taken by the Section not carrying the surgical team personnel. Each section had a handcart.
4. Distribution of Loads -
The principle adopted was that each glider load should be capable of functioning as a modified Dressing Station or Aid Post. Accordingly, glider loads were made up as follows -
((1) Section Commander + 3 and blitz-buggy
Each Section ((2) S/Sjt. and 10, with handcart
((3) Surgeon or anaesthetist, with surgical team or stretcher trailer and remainder of section.
5. The Medical Plan -
Each section to rv with the Bn. it was attached to and move up in its rear to a pre-selected site in the Bn. area.
The Surgical team was to function in the rear Bn. area and operate on essential cases - then move forward.
Casualties, as they occurred, would be evacuated to Company Collecting Posts, where there were 4 RAMC orderlies. The R.M.O. would arrange collection from there to the R.A.P. situated in the same area as the Section.
Evacuation to the rear was the responsibility of A.D.M.S. 5 Div.
6. Actual Happenings -
(1) Of the six medical gliders which set out, only one landed on the island. This contained the surgical team, under Capt. Rigby Jones, and 4 members of Section 2. This glider load was able to function as a very modified Dressing Station - cum - R.A.P. and did a lot of good work. Later they functioned in an M.D.S. as a surgical team.
(2) The medical orderlies who landed with Companies, or swam ashore, did excellent work in the way of first aid and thoroughly justified their inclusion in the operation.
7. Conclusions -
(1) It was unfortunate that the medical services failed to arrive in any number. Those that did were adequately equipped to function within 1 hour of landing.
(2) The wide dispersal of highly trained medical orderlies throughout the Battalions, who suffered several casualties on landing, was entirely justified.
(3) It is essential to have a staff officer from Airborne Forces with the H.Q. of the relieving seaborne force. He should have at his disposal a small pool of ambulances. When the seaborne forces come up, this officer should meet S.M.O. Brigade or his representative at a pre-selected spot and arrange for the immediate collection of outlying cases or evacuation of casualties in the R.A.P.
(4) Medical services managed to function in spite of the fact that no Company was ever complete - and rarely a platoon. Practically every "Penny packet" was attended to quickly and it is considered that the lives of a definite proportion of the casualties were saved by quick and efficient first aid treatment.
Lt. Col., RAMC.
Commanding 1st Air Landing Field Ambulance
19 Jul 43.
Report on Operation "Bigot" - 9 July 43
The Brigade had a primary task which was the capture of the Bridge PONTE GRANDE over the River NAPO and CHIANE. The second task was the capture of the town of SYRACUSE. Subsidiary tasks were the liquidation of enemy strong points and gun positions. The Brigade was to land on four landing areas - two small ones in the neighbourhood of WATERLOO and two larger ones about 4 miles away.
1. Landing areas - Two medical orderlies were found from the Field Ambulance to act as landing area orderlies on each of the larger landing areas.
2. Company Collecting Posts were to be established in each Company area. These were manned by Battalion RAMC personnel. Two extra RAMC orderlies were attached to each Company four weeks before the Operation and were trained in this duty.
3. The R.A.P. for each Battalion was to open in the same area as the Dressing Station. The R.M.O. was to be responsible for collection of casualties from Company Posts.
4. Each Battalion had 1 Section from the Field Ambulance attached. It was the object of these Sections to open up and receive casualties in their Battalion areas. Provisional sites were selected in advance.
5. Surgical Team - A surgical team with extra equipment was taken to carry out forward essential surgery. It was the intention that this team should operate in the Battalion area near the bridge in the first place and then move on to SYRACUSE to hold the second Dressing Station and carry out any essential surgery there.
6. S.M.O. Brigade, with 2 O.Rs., was with Brigade H.Q. to supervise the medical plan.
7. Evacuation behind the Dressing Stations was the responsibility of A.D.M.S., 5 Div.
RAMC Personnel Employed
1. Each Battalion - R.M.O. and 24 O.Rs. (4 per Company).
2. Each Section - Section Commander and 19 O.Rs.
3. Each Landing Area - 2 O.Rs.
4. Surgical Team - 2 Officers and 5 O.Rs.
5. Brigade H.Q. - S.M.O. and 2 O.Rs.
(a) 6 gliders were allotted to the Field Ambulance for the transport of the 2 Sections and the surgical team.
(b) Distribution of glider loads - It was decided to make each glider as far as possible an independent unit which could, if necessary, function as a modified Dressing Station.
(c) Glider loads were as follows -
Borders' Section and Reserve
1. Section Commander + 3 O.Rs. and blitz-buggy (66)
2. Anaesthetist with 10 O.Rs. and handcart (70)
3. 1 S/Sjt. + 5 O.Rs. and stretcher trailer with reserve medical stores (62)
Staffords Section + Surg. Team
4. Section Commander + 3 O.Rs. and blitz-buggy (22)
5. S/Sjt. with 11 O.Rs. and hand-cart (30)
6. Surgeon + 9 O.Rs. and hand-cart - including surgical team
It was considered necessary to take 2 blitz-buggies, 1 stretcher trailer and 2 hand-carts to carry equipment and to evacuate casualties within the Brigade area.
Each RAMC soldier carried his small kit and a pack of haversack containing essential medical stores for first aid work. In addition his pack was filled with medical and ordnance equipment for use in the Dressing Station. The stretcher trailer was filled with extra plasma, dressings, comforts and plaster. Benzedrine tablets were issued to Battalions for use as directed by M.Os. Mepacrine and mosquito cream were carried by each men in the Brigade. 2nd Line supplies were pre-packed and left with the Q.M. at the base. Each glider in the Bde. carried one blanket and 4 gals. drinking water.
1. 6 gliders became safely airborne by 1900 hours on 9 July and proceeded to SICILY - the journey was very bumpy. All gliders were cast off within a radius of 10 miles from the coast. One was close enough to make a safe landing - the remainder landed in the sea. The glider which landed safely was that containing the surgical team under Captain Rigby-Jones. He proceeded with his party to the pre-selected area and eventually, after a small battle with the enemy, succeeded in establishing a small Dressing Station and dealt with over 30 casualties. This was in the farm at 127295 and was open for about 20 hours until 1400 hours on D + 1. Transport in the shape of an ass-cart was procured and Captain Rigby-Jones collected in a number of patients. These were treated and evacuated to 141 Field Ambulance in transport procured by A.D.M.S. Airborne Division from A.D.M.S. 5 Div. The surgical team opened up and operated in the M.D.S. 141 Field Ambulance in SYRACUSE from D + 1 - D + 2.
2. Battalion R.A.M.C. landed in gliders and did great work clearing casualties and carrying out primary life-saving first aid. They were widely distributed throughout Battalions and, as the whole force became separated off the island and landed in penny packets, it is as well that this was so. R.M.Os. both swam ashore without equipment.
3. S.M.O. Brigade joined the Dressing Station about 1900 hours on D. day. He contacted D.A.D.M.S. 5 Div. at about 2230 hours and asked for transport to clear casualties he had dealt with during the day.
4. A.D.M.S. Airborne Division had linked up with 5 Div. H.Q. about 12 hours earlier and already had this well in hand. Civilian ambulances were procured and used for the collection of casualties on D+1 and D+2 by A.D.M.S. and S.M.O. By the end of D+2 it was reckoned that all casualties had been cleared into the seaborne Medical Service. On D+3 day, the airlanding medical services left the island. 2 officers and 12 O.Rs. of the Field Ambulance embarked.
Casualties sustained by the Field Ambulance
Killed - Nil and 2
Wounded - Nil and 6
Missing - Captain Greeves and 15 O.Rs.
Types of Casualties
It is thought that about 50% of the casualties found were the result of glider crashes - those usually involved wounds of the lower limb.
1. It is not possible to comment on the general medical plan for the Brigade as it was impossible to carry it out with the forces which eventually arrived.
2. The decision to distribute R.A.M.C. as widely as possible throughout the Brigade proved itself.
3. The operation showed that the spirit and morale of the R.A.M.C. is good and all ranks carried out their duties under difficulties in a completely unselfish manner.
4. It is felt that it is essential to have an officer from A.D.M.S. Airborne Division staff with the H.Q. of the seaborne forces. He should have a call on a small pool of ambulances to clear outlying casualties and Dressing Stations. A.D.M.S. Airborne Division achieved this and made the task of S.M.O. Brigade very much simpler by establishing a good liaison early on in the battle.
5. It is considered essential to arm each RAMC glider party with offensive weapons as well as pistols.
[Signed G. Warrack]
Lt. Col., RAMC.
Commanding 181 Air Landing Field Ambulance