2/12 FIELD AMBULANCE
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WW2

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The 2/12 Field Ambulance was formed by Lieutenant Colonel N.D. Barton in Sydney, New South Wales in late 1940. It was an additional field ambulance unit for the Australian 2nd AIF.

The 2/12th Field Ambulance carried out their basic training at Cowra in New South Wales where they were in support of the 23rd Australian Infantry Brigade. The 2/12th relocated with the 23rd Australian Infantry Brigade from Cowra to a camp at Winnellie just south of the RAAF Darwin airfield in the Northern Territory in March 1941. 

While camped at Winnellie, small support groups of approximately 40 men were sent to Timor and Ambon to support "Sparrow" and "Gull" forces. More support groups accompanied reinforcements for "Sparrow" and "Gull" forces after many of the earlier parties had been captured by the Japanese. The reinforcements were forced to return to Darwin after their convoy came under heavy Japanese bombing attacks.

The 2/12 Field Ambulance were camped at Winnellie near Darwin during the numerous Japanese bombing attacks on Darwin during the first half of 1942. In 1943, the 2/12th relocated to a camp at Reidtown near Wollongong in New South Wales.

Three Companies of the 2/12 Field Ambulance and their attached personnel relocated by train to Sydney to board the Hospital Ship A.H.S. HMS Centaur. There was a total of 11 officers, 3 warrant officers, 14 sergeants and 192 other ranks, a total of 220 personnel. At about 5 pm on 11 May 1943, the 2/12th, led by their Commanding Officer, Lt.-Col. Leslie McDonald Outridge, marched on the the wharf at No. 1 Darling Harbour.

Most of the personnel of the 2/12th in the photographs below were killed on the Hospital Ship A.H.S. HMS Centaur, which was sunk by Japanese Submarine I-177 on 14 May 1943 off the Queensland coast, roughly east of Brisbane.

centaur04.jpg (253096 bytes)
Plaque commemorating the fate of
members of the 2/12 Field Ambulance
on the hospital ship A.H.S. Centaur

The following photos were taken by Private E. Laurie Ravenscroft

ravenscroft13.jpg (705632 bytes) Cover of E. Laurie Ravenscroft's Photo Album, showing a map of Australia and the routes travelled by 2/12 Field Ambulance
ravenscroft01.jpg (39848 bytes) 2/12 Field Ambulance Camp at Cowra in New South Wales
ravenscroft04.jpg (63448 bytes) 2/12 Field Ambulance Camp at Cowra in New South Wales (hand coloured my Mrs Ravenscroft)
ravenscroft06.jpg (48930 bytes) Cowra
ravenscroft07.jpg (58084 bytes) Cowra Camp
ravenscroft08.jpg (64441 bytes) Cowra Hospital
ravenscroft11.jpg (77284 bytes) Cowra Sports Day
ravenscroft21.jpg (63191 bytes) In a trench at Cowra, NSW
ravenscroft12.jpg (53005 bytes) Cowra
ravenscroft05.jpg (51313 bytes) Cowra - Moving day
ravenscroft14.jpg (52981 bytes) Leaving Cowra
ravenscroft02.jpg (21628 bytes) Bendigo, NSW
ravenscroft03.jpg (46983 bytes) Copley
ravenscroft10.jpg (51937 bytes) Noske Bros Pty. Ltd, Murray Bridge
ravenscroft17.jpg (58784 bytes) Murray Bridge
ravenscroft15.jpg (58281 bytes) Lake Hyde, Terowie
ravenscroft16.jpg (72095 bytes) Sergeants at Adelaide, South Australia
ravenscroft22.jpg (65837 bytes) Unknown Sergeant at Sydney Show Grounds
ravenscroft09.jpg (55920 bytes) E. Laurie Ravenscroft at Sydney Show Grounds
ravenscroft18.jpg (26461 bytes) Queen Mary, Sydney Harbour
ravenscroft19.jpg (56845 bytes) Young
ravenscroft20.jpg (30062 bytes) Terowie
ravenscroft23.jpg (38188 bytes) On the move, somewhere in Victoria
ravenscroft24.jpg (55728 bytes) Railway at Alice Springs, NT
ravenscroft25.jpg (41952 bytes) Alice Springs, NT
ravenscroft26.jpg (54893 bytes) Alice Springs, NT
ravenscroft27.jpg (50536 bytes) Alice Springs, NT
ravenscroft29.jpg (38962 bytes) Alice Springs
ravenscroft30.jpg (60083 bytes) Camp, Alice Springs
ravenscroft31.jpg (68439 bytes) D-O-M-F Camp, Alice Springs

The Darwin Overland Maintenance Force (DOMF) was an Australian Army unit responsible for the supply of food, medical, sanitary and signal services to the gangs building the North - South road in the Northern Territory and any military personnel camped along the road such as the overnight camps at Banka Banka, Powell's Creek, Elliot, Bore 6A, etc.  When they built the road from Mount Isa, a similar force was created, called Mt Isa Maintenance Force (MIMF).

ravenscroft32.jpg (50150 bytes) Hawkers at Alice Springs
ravenscroft36.jpg (51097 bytes) War Memorial, Alice Springs. NT
ravenscroft40.jpg (52598 bytes) Transport Lines, Alice Springs, NT
ravenscroft37.jpg (47890 bytes) Mac taking a phot, at Alice Springs. Note the fly protection over his hat.
ravenscroft28.jpg (61547 bytes) Emily's Gap, Alice Springs
ravenscroft33.jpg (69563 bytes) Emily's Gap, Alice Springs, NT
ravenscroft34.jpg (49901 bytes) Emily's Gap, Alice Springs, NT
ravenscroft35.jpg (97532 bytes) Emily's Gap, Alice Springs, NT
ravenscroft38.jpg (48316 bytes) Quorn, South Australia
ravenscroft39.jpg (47929 bytes) Smoko, on the side of the road, somewhere in the Northern Territory
ravenscroft41.jpg (67729 bytes) Bonnie Wells
ravenscroft42.jpg (27092 bytes) Donkey, NT
ravenscroft43.jpg (98990 bytes) Elliott, NT
ravenscroft44.jpg (87445 bytes) Newcastle Waters, NT
ravenscroft45.jpg (105599 bytes) Newcastle Waters
ravenscroft46.jpg (40691 bytes) Newcastle Waters
ravenscroft47.jpg (34561 bytes) Newcastle Waters
ravenscroft48.jpg (70872 bytes) Tritree Wells
Tritree Wells
ravenscroft50.jpg (61918 bytes) Tritree Wells
ravenscroft51.jpg (80427 bytes) Balancing Rock, Devils Marbles
ravenscroft52.jpg (92746 bytes) Devils Marbles
ravenscroft53.jpg (69672 bytes) Devils Marbles
ravenscroft54.jpg (106381 bytes) Main Street, Tennant Creek
ravenscroft55.jpg (83396 bytes) Mine entrance, Tennant Creek
ravenscroft57.jpg (82038 bytes) Mission House, Tennant Creek
ravenscroft58.jpg (72168 bytes) Tennant Creek, NT
ravenscroft56.jpg (95369 bytes) A mishap

 

The following photos were taken by Alan Dickson.

Darwin Picture Show, Darwin in the 1940's.
Darwin Post Office after the bombing February 1942
2/12 Ambulance Unit, Darwin 1942
2/12 ASC at Cowra 1942
Old Darwin Hotel 1942
Ambulances at Cowra, 1941
Convoy crossing Newcastle Waters, Northern Territory, 1941
Army Camp in Darwin, 1942
AIF Camp, Alice Springs, 1941
Alan Dickson, Darwin, 1942
Army Convoy on way to Darwin, 1942
AIF Sports Day, Darwin, 1942
Most of the 2/12 A.A.S.C. boys at Darwin, Northern Territory, 1941
Alice Springs 1942
Washup area, Darwin 1942
Cowra 1940's
Army Camp, Darwin 1940's
Railway Station Cowra 1940's
Darwin Railway Station 1940's

 

Alan Dickson told me that  the last remaining survivor of the 2/12 (George McGrath) passed away on the 4th of January 2007.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Steven Ravenscroft whose father Private E. Laurie Ravenscroft was a member of the 2/12th Field Ambulance.

I'd like to thank Frank Dickson for his assistance with this web page. Frank's father Alan Dickson served in the 2/12th during WW2.

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

"Australian Hospital Ship Centaur - The Myth of Immunity"
by Christopher S. Milligan & John C.H. Foley

 

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 Peter Dunn 2006

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This page first produced 30 March 2003

This page last updated 09 December 2014