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WW2 RAF Ambulance markings


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What markings would a WW2 Austin K2 Ambulance carry ?

 

Other than the usual RAF letters,registration and a roundel front and rear,what unit markings would a K2 carry when operated in this this country by an RAF medical unit or hospital.

 

I am presuming an airfield ambulance would carry the command and squadron marking eg.B/43 but was there a marking specific to a medical unit along the lines of the M for maintenance ?

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You are on the right track with the markings; but have you seen much evidence of K2 ambulances in use on UK airfields; I have been searching for 40 years and only found evidence of them in the service of the Joint War Organisation of St Johns & the British Red Cross who manned conoys meeting hospital ships, ambulance trains and casevac aircraft. I know the RAF had one or two in Italy.

TED

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I have been told that prior to the Normandy landings US airforce bases had thier WC54's taken off them and repalced with Austin K2. The logic being the 4x4 would be more use in Europe than on a flat solid airfeild.

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Thank you Ted and Richard.

 

I think the K2 was pretty widely used on British airfields both for operational and training squadrons and my presumption is that they would carry the appropriate squadron and command lettering. I would imagine they were particularly used by Bomber Command for evacuation of multi-person crews.

 

Where I am completely in the dark is where the vehicle was operated by a medical unit serving for example an RAF hospital. Is it even possible that these would be RASC vehicles.

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On- base cas were removed by station personnel; firemen, medical assistants, MOs plus anyone else on hand. They would be taken in the aerodrome ambulance(s) to SSQ for initial treatment. Those requiring further treatment would be taken in the Station's domestic ambulances to the nearest nominated hospital , which could be civvy or RAF.

The K2 ambulance along with 2 types of Fordson crash tenders were used on reverse lend lease by the USAAF as soon as they arrived in UK. The K2s issued to the USAAF were either new or diverted from Army stock.

At the outbreak of war the Albion was the standard heavy aerodrome ambulance- hundreds had been stockpiled at Kidbrooke and Cardington commencing 1937. The little Morris and Standard 12hp were the domestic types. In 1941 the Albion was supplemented by the Fordson WOT1 with 2 body styles. The K2 was in use by a mobile medical unit in Italy but the IWM photos do not show any markings so they could be army assetts issued in theatre to replace long in the tooth Albions or to equip a newly established unit. .

My 2TAF album both pre and post D Day shows Fordsons but no K2s. AS I said previously casevac aircraft would normally be met by a convoy of ambulances made up from the station's own fleet plus K2s and Morris light ambulances belonging to the St Johns/red cross.

 

AP3090 aug 1944 lists both the Albion & Fordson as the heavy types in service , plus the Morris & Standards as the domestics. The first mention I have found in RAF publications for the K2 is in the Data book leaf issued march 1945.

RAF hosp[itals carried the command group marking of their parent command, normally this was Bomber Command.

If you have piccies or evidence of K2s in use on aerodrome please share !! Attached a lineup waiting arrival of a casevac Dakota, Note the K2s have the St Johns /Red cross legend around the geneva cross plus note the London CC reg number. The latter were all driven by ladies who were either members of the St Johns/Red cross war org or were seconded from the FANY, who can be seen to the right of the lineup, the airmen in the pictures (see collar trade badges)are mostly medical assistants who rode as 2nd man on the RAF ambulances. RAF MT regs called for MT drivers only as ambulance drivers. .

1901_07_33 1.jpg

1901_07_26 2.jpg

1901_07_185 2.jpg

Edited by ted angus
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Thanks Ted - useful information which answers a large part of the question. Do you suppose that the middle K2 in the first picture with the larger,higher visibility red crosses was a different unit to the others or simply a later manufactured vehicle painted like that from new on the Longbridge production line?

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  • 3 years later...
Interesting thread from a while back. Ted did you ever get to answer the last post before this?

Sorry Larry, my mind is elsewhere with health issues. If we mean the larger red cross - looking at my collection of pictures of K2s belonging to the Joint war organisation of the St J & BRC- all ambulances( including those of the Army &) initially carried the smaller marking, later in the war they displayed the larger marking. I think this reflects their UK use at sea ports, air & rail heads whereas post D Day they were also operating ambulance columns in north west Europe in support of the RAMC & RASC and it was therefore more important to make the marking more visible; Those seen in the home based locations portrayed in the Pathe newsreels mostly have the smaller markings , whereas those featuring in the IWm pictures taken on Mulberry have the larger marks. Hope this helps ?

TED

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  • 5 years later...
Posted (edited)

Another old post but here is a civi Austin K2 on an RAF airfield just after D-Day to collect casualties off a Douglas Dakota. As my Dad remembers as an erk at RAF Broadwell and later RAF Down Ampney, it was all hands to the pump to remove the wounded from the aircraft on to ambulances as quickly as possible. Often the RAF personnel would give emergency aid in the shape of a Woodbine Cigarette, as smoking was good for you in 1944! 

Note civi registration and no large red crosses.

As for the RAF use of Austin K2s on UK airfields I seem to remember that RAFM say this was from late 1945 and after VE-Day, so if you own an RAF Blue K2 then paint the front mudguards gloss black and it will look very smart in postwar colours as of April 1946.

Austin K2 Registration CXY248 of Red Cross.jpg

Edited by LarryH57
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On 5/29/2011 at 11:22 AM, ted angus said:

You are on the right track with the markings; but have you seen much evidence of K2 ambulances in use on UK airfields; I have been searching for 40 years and only found evidence of them in the service of the Joint War Organisation of St Johns & the British Red Cross who manned conoys meeting hospital ships, ambulance trains and casevac aircraft. I know the RAF had one or two in Italy.

TED

Is this something else Airfix got wrong!😀

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Incidentally, the K2 shown above in the colour photo, seems to have the exhaust pipe extended up the side.

Was this to stop the unloading staff from being 'gassed' by fumes while loading or equally to protect the casualties?

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For the film Charlotte Gray the K2 that I drove in RAF kit was in fact in army markings taped over for the film. Also the M20 I rode as D/R the day before in BD's was not in the correct London Army Unit markings and can not be used as a tac sign reference point.

Mick

 

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The photo I attached was not from an official film made for the public to see at the cinema, but an unofficial home movie made privately in WW2, so nothing was set up or staged for filming - it was taken as it was in front of the camera 'warts and all'.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi

I should add that the RED Cross Ambulances had Civilian registrations,

As well as military, I have not seen both displayed at the same time.

They also had different signage, cross's painted out and the word Ambulance painted on headboards.

regs

Rupert

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12 minutes ago, LarryH57 said:

The Austin K2 Ambulance was offered to the USAAF as reverse Lend Lease, so very common on US airfields in company with Crossley and Fordson Fire Tenders

I believe it was pretty much straight swap.  Dodge WC54 ambulances with four wheel drive for K2s, which were just fine on airfields.  One can but imagine the US drivers comments ...  🤣

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19 minutes ago, LarryH57 said:

Of course the K2 was only 4x2 but it still had a four man stretcher capacity and ability for the attendant to stand up between the casualties, rather than crouch.

I think that was the point.  The K2 wouldn't be a problem on the average airfield, and the 4 x 4s were freed up for the sharp end where four wheel drive would be much more use.

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2 hours ago, LarryH57 said:

Of course the K2 was only 4x2 but it still had a four man stretcher capacity and ability for the attendant to stand up between the casualties, rather than crouch.

Larry there was a folding seat on the partition door for the attendant    TED.

 

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