Volunteered and enlisted on 1st February 1915 (age 22) in the 3/2 West Lancs Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC).
- The West Lancashire Territorial Division had 3 Field Ambulance units. Two were based in Liverpool (1st at Tramway Road; 2nd at Harper Street); the third (3rd) was at St Helens. On mobilisation all were brought up to strength very quickly and were duplicated, or even, as in the case of the 2nd triplicated. The 1/2 went to Kent to form part of the anti-invasion forces, the 2/2 were sent to France as the 63rd Field Ambulance with 21st Division. The 3/2 formed and went to Blackpool (William Gannicliffe papers – Wellcome Library).
- 2nd West Lancs Division got its number ‘57’ in August 1915. 57th Division concentrated during 1915 in Canterbury, Maidstone, and Ashford. (http://www.1914-1918.net/57div.htm)
- 3/2nd West Lancs Field Ambulance joined 57th (2/W Lancs) Division on 4-5 December 1915. (http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=81314)
- On 5 Dec 1915 the 3/2 left Blackpool for Wye, Kent. The Unit comprised 182 Officers and men divided into 3 sections (A, B, & C). The 3/2 Field Ambulance was part of 57 Division which along with 66th Division were allocated to the defence of the UK, part of the anti-invasion force (William Gannicliffe papers – Wellcome Library).
- In May 1916 the 3/2 Field Ambulance marched from Wye to Bourne Park Camp on the Dover Road where they spent the next 7 weeks. The camp adjoined Lord Kitchener’s estate, Broom Park (William Gannicliffe papers – Wellcome Library).
In June 1916 he was on Ward 26 at Military Hospital Number 2, Herne Bay, Kent. (Postcard sent by grandmother to Cpl G Slater, 3/2 W.L.F.A. R.A.M.C, Ward 26, Military Hospital No2, Herne Bay, Kent). Apparently he broke his arm by tripping over a tent guy rope whilst running to get on parade. A postcard sent to my grandmother, dated 21 Ju* ** shows a picture of him with his arm in a sling (http://www.flickr.com/photos/tim_slater_14-18/10446299395/in/set-72157633473569593).
- In July 1916 57th Division moved to the Aldershot to begin its pre-deployment training prior to going to France. (http://www.1914-1918.net/57div.htm)
- In July 1916 the 3/2 Field Ambulance unit travelled by rail to Fleet in Hampshire and from there marched to Twezeldown Camp. There were 3 T.A. and 5 Kitchener’s Army Companies. The T.A. elements were complete Field Ambulance units (2 Wessex, 1 West Lancs) and were all part of 57th Division. 3/2 West Lancs Field Ambulance unit was part of 170th Bde, each of the 2 Wessex Field Ambulance units were attached to 171st and 172nd Bdes respectively. (William Gannicliffe papers – Wellcome Library)
In August 1916 he was at or near Aldershot. He sent postcards postmarked 18 & 19 August ‘Aldershot’ to his future wife in Blackpool.
- At Christmas 1916 the whole 3/2 FA unit, in 2 batches, got 10 days leave. (William Gannicliffe papers – Wellcome Library)
- Between 7 – 22 February 1917 57th Division crossed to France (http://www.1914-1918.net/57div.htm). The 3/2nd W. Lancs. Fld Ambulance unit should have marched on 7 February 1917 but due to German submarine activity in the English Channel they were delayed 24 hours. The journey from Le Havre to Bailleul took 36 hours (William Gannicliffe papers – Wellcome Library).
- 25/26 Feb 1917 57th Division took over the section of the line held by the New Zealand Division then part of II ANZAC Corps. The 3/2nd W. Lancs. Fld. Ambulance was attached to 170th Brigade Group (57th Div). (57 Div War Diary – Feb-Mar 1917, AWM, http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/records/awm4/1/41/awm4-1-41-1.pdf)
- The 3/2nd W. Lancs. Field Ambulance unit had a main dressing station at a working brewery at Fort Rompu on the Armentieres to Sailly road and three Advanced Dressing Stations at Chapel d’Armentieres, Bois Grenier, and Fleurbaix (William Gannicliffe papers – Wellcome Library).
- The Corpo Expedicionário Português (CEP) - Portuguese Expeditionary Corps was placed under the operational command of the British First Army in the Artois/Flanders front. The first Portuguese unit arrived at the front line 11 May 1917, deployment was complete by 5 Nov 1917. On 17 June 1917 the CEP saw its first action of the war, against the Germans in Flanders, Belgium (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portuguese_Expeditionary_Corps#Deployment_of_the_CEP).
He appears to have had two service numbers. An identity disk (dog tag) retained by my father is labelled ‘Slater G H, Cpl, RAMC, 339410 (his Territorial Number). However on his discharge paperwork his service number is stated as 666594.
- Renumbering of the Territorial Force RAMC in 1917. The link indicates that RAMC territorial’s with service (territorial) numbers between 339001 and 341000 (following renumbering) were part of 2 West Lancs Field Ambulance Unit (http://www.1914-1918.net/TF_renumbering_ramc.htm).
His history of service record sheet (issued on discharge) states the following:
- Enlisted Feb 1915
- Feb 1915 to Aug 1918 2nd West Lanc’s fa.
- Aug 1918 to Mar 1919 553rd Agricultural Company, Labour Corps
- Transferred to Army Reserve 7 Apr 1919
- 1914-18 War Hospitals that treated gas cases: 3/2nd West Lancs Field Ambulance, July 1917. (http://www.veterans-uk.info/pdfs/publications/guides/e_e_guide/app_13.pdf)
He appears to have spent Christmas 1917 at the No 2 Convalescence Depot in Rouen. (Post Card left).
Some if not all of his Labour Corps service was spent in Ireland.