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A Field Ambulance (FA) is the name used by the British Army and the armies of other Commonwealth nations to describe a mobile medical unit that treats wounded soldiers very close to the combat zone. In the British military medical system that developed during the First World War, the FAs formed an intermediate level in the casualty evacuation chain that stretched from the Regimental Aid Posts near the front line and the Casualty Clearing Stations located outside the range of the enemy's artillery. FAs were often assigned to the brigades of a division.
During physical training such as "TAB'S" or booted runs, a field ambulance or "Jack Wagon" as it is known in this scenario will follow large groups of soldiers to pick up those who are injured or frankly cannot keep up, often it is a weakness of the mind rather than the body that results in soldiers taking a seat in the field ambulance/jack wagon. There is plaque on a seat in 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery jack wagon that says "Rob Fatback Phillips' seat" on account of the frequency he was sat in it.
The term is no longer used in the British Royal Army Medical Corps. They were replaced by medical regiments (which are assigned to brigades) and field hospitals.
World War I
Sinai and Palestine Campaign
During the October and November 1917 offensive by the Egyptian Expeditionary Force there were no advanced medical base east of Kantara on the Suez Canal. The operations was supported by the British general and stationary hospitals in Egypt, with casualty clearing stations at Deir el Belah.
On 28 October the 4th Light Horse Field Ambulance "stood to" all day doing dressings in the open, before riding out from Tel el Fara at 16:00 towards Beersheba. Medical orderlies rode donkeys, mules pulled the supply wagons, stretcher bearers rode horses and more horses pulled the ambulances while camels carried the Tent Division, "a complete Light Horse Field Ambulance, for the first time on record." Ten days of concentration and approach marches across the difficult and waterless country in "extreme secrecy" successfully culminated on 31 October 1917 with the capture of Beersheba. On that day, Nos. 35, 65, and 75 Casualty Clearing Stations were in position at Imara, while the Motor Ambulance Convoy cars attached to the Desert Mounted Corps drove between them and the Anzac Mounted Division receiving station at Rashid Bek. The Australian Mounted Division receiving station and the operating car were at Asluj, with some of the light motor ambulance waggons. Mobile sections of field ambulances followed their brigades while cacolet camels followed the divisions, and the remaining light motor ambulance waggons drove along the steep and winding eastern road from Asluj.
- 4th Light Horse Brigade#4th Light Horse Field Ambulance
- Field hospital
- Royal Army Medical Corps
- 16th (Parachute) Field Ambulance
- Field Ambulances of the Canadian Forces
Second World War units
- R. M. Downes (1938). "Chapter XIII – The Base from 1917 onwards". In A. G. Butler. Volume I – Gallipoli, Palestine and New Guinea. Official History of the Australian Army Medical Services, 1914–1918. PART II – The Campaign in Sinai and Palestine (2nd ed.). Canberra: Australian War Memorial. pp. 752–3.
- Hamilton, Patrick M. (1996). Riders of Destiny The 4th Australian Light Horse Field Ambulance 1917–18: An Autobiography and History. Gardenvale, Melbourne: Mostly Unsung Military History. ISBN 978-1-876179-01-4.pp. 63–4
- R. M. Downes (1938). "Chapter VIII – The Second Palestine Offensive". In A. G. Butler. Volume I – Gallipoli, Palestine and New Guinea. Official History of the Australian Army Medical Services, 1914–1918. PART II – The Campaign in Sinai and Palestine (2nd ed.). Canberra: Australian War Memorial. pp. 663–4.