Extract from A Surgeon in Khaki


Author : Arthur Anderson Martin


Published 1916


The RAMC Corporal referred to is grandfather Graham STANTON (aka “The OldMan”)


(The following extract seems to take place early September 1914, at the start of “the First battle of the Marne” the allied counter attack following the “long retreat from Mons”. The author states the place as being “Chiezy”, I cannot find any such place on modern maps, however the text appears in a chapter called “from the Marne to the Aisne”, and  there is a place called Chezy en Orxois, which is in-between the rivers Marne and Aisne, and also near to other places named in the text.  TNS:28/10/2001) However there is also a place called Chessy - now the site of Euro Disney - which is almost exactly at the limit of the German advance in 1914, so this is also a possible location. (TNS 7/2014)


(The author had just joined 15th Field Ambulance, and is describing how the allies were finding many souvenirs, abandoned by the retreating German army):-


Chapter VIII “From the Marne to the Aisne” p74/5


            Our greatest find was yet to come. As our ambulance was getting under way one of our R.A.M.C. corporals hove into sight marching proudly at the head of eleven fully-armed German prisoners. The corporal’s tale was full of interest. He was searching in the wood for more “souvenirs” when he came suddenly upon the eleven soldiers lying together in a small clearing. All the tales of German atrocities he had heard unfolded rapidly in his mind, and when the German non-commissioned officer got up and approached him, speaking Germans, which our corporal did not understand, he thought that his death sentence was being pronounced. By signs, and to the utter amazement of the corporal, he grasped the fact that the Germans wished to surrender. He beckoned the enemy to follow him, and the eleven hungry, tired, and very dirty looking Mecklenburghers came docilely into camp. Our O.C. approached them, took their rifles, and ordered them coffee, bully beef, and biscuits. The prisoners ate as only hungry Germans can eat. Three of them had badly blistered feet, and when we marched off these were accommodated in the ambulance wagons. The remainder marched behind the wagons of A company, under charge of the corporal who had “captured” them. Later in the day we handed them over to the Norfolk Regiment, as it was clearly against the etiquette of war for a Field Ambulance to have prisoners of war. We hadn’t a gun amongst us.


            The capture of eleven prisoners of war by our Field Ambulance was the occasion for much joy to our men, and the corporal was a very proud man. I don’t know what the Germans thought when they discovered that they had surrendered to an unarmed party. The 15th Field Ambulance is so far the only ambulance which has taken prisoners of war, and I hope that the R.A.M.C. messes at Aldershot and Netley will duly treasure the fact in the archives.

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