Assistance with Royal Army Medical Corps major units, 1985 To 1990


I have been investigating the combat support arms for the British army in the latter years of the cold war 1985 to 1989. But have come unstuck with the RAMC. Most books from the time period are very vague. Piercing it together from some sources, shows the following regular units:

1st Armoured Division Field Ambulance
2nd Infantry Division Field Ambulance
3rd Armoured Division Field Ambulance
4th Armoured Division Field Ambulance
5th Field Ambulance
16th Field Ambulance
24th Field Ambulance
19 Field Ambulance
23 (Parachute) Field Ambulance

21 Field Hospital
33 Field Hospital
34 Field Hospital
84 Field Medical Equipment Depot

However following the Hansard parlimentary questions archive, reveals that in 1990 there were 22 Major RAMC units


So what were the names and cold war duties of the missing 11 units?

Many thanks if you can help, apologies if this is not the right forum.

Thanks for the replies, but that 22 major units number does not include TA. in addition to those 22 regular units, the army would assisted by 29 major TA RAMC units if the Hansard Site to be believed.


85 to 89. 19 Wasn't an Airmobile Brigade it was an Infantry Brigade. So it was just plain old 19 Field Ambulance.
Based in Goojerat Barracks, Colchester.
Could well be true, in those days the UK and BFG Army hospitals were all designated as field hospitals in war. So from the UK there would have been DKMH Catterick, CMH Aldershot, QEMH Woolwich and from BFG BMHs Berlin, Hannover, Rinteln, Munster and Iserlohn. There would have been an ambulance evacuation train too although I'm not sure if that was a regular ot TA unit or possibly one from each.

Edited to add: You could try the Professionally qualified RAMC/QARANC forum on this site and the AMS Vetrans Facebook site too.
I was thinking that, But there were 13 of those in the late 80's. And if they were, would they have been renamed/numbered in wartime? Or did they just provide field surgical teams et-all?

85 to 89. 19 Wasn't an Airmobile Brigade it was an Infantry Brigade. So it was just plain old 19 Field Ambulance.
Based in Goojerat Barracks, Colchester.

Thanks. Have fixed it.

You could try the Professionally qualified RAMC/QARANC forum on this site and the AMS Vetrans Facebook site too.

Will do that. Thank you.
I served at QEMH 91-92 and BMH Iserlohn 92-93 and I'm fairly certain that on my discharge docs it lists these units along with their designated Field Hopsital numbers. If I can find these docs I'll let you know.
QEMH was 30 General Hospital
BMH Iserlohn was 31 General Hospital
DKMH Catterick was 34 (I think)
BMH Hannover was 32 (I think)
Thank you Jacques! That fills a gap.

Forgive me for pressing, but in the event of a conventional 'West vs East' scenario what would have been the duties of these general hospitals? Would they take their personnel and deploy in some form? Or would they remain where they were, discharge all non critical and civilian patients and wait for battle casualties in some form?

Once again, thank you.
I joined the regular army in 1990 so the Warsaw Pact was no longer a major threat. I'm not sure but I would speculate that the BAOR BMHs would have moved into a field setting rather than stay in their peacetime location.


Major Regular RAMC Units in 86/87 (TTW = Transition to War)

In 1st British Corps, 1 and 3 Armoured Divisions each had two Armoured Field Ambulances, 4 Armoured Division had only one, until the arrival of 19 Brigade on TTW. All Armoured Field Ambulances were understrength at only 60-70% WE. This was a deliberate cost saving act by the bean counters. This was compounded by the CO of 4 Armoured Field Ambulance, who through sheer domination, forced Med Branch HQ Ist BR Corps to reinforce his unit at PE by taking 15 X Pax + 2 X 432 Amb/Load from 1, 2 , 3 and 5 Armoured Field Ambulances. He reasoned that as 4th Armd Div were committed to the Covering Force Battle and unlikely to be reinforced he needed to be at 80% WE in Peace. To counter the under manning the Armoured Field Ambulances relied totally on the Regimental Bands for reinforcement on TTW, before IRs and the earmarked TA Field Ambulances arrived in Theatre. Each Armoured Field Ambulance had 2 or3 earmarked Bands and 1 TA Field Ambulance.

All of the static Hospitals had War Roles, some moved to OPLOC’s others stayed put. Generally the BAOR Hospitals became Field Hospitals and formed the Forward Surgical Complex (FSC) in the Forward Combat Zone (FCZ). The others became General Hospitals and either remained in the UK or formed, with the TA General Hospitals, the Rear Surgical Complex (RSC) which was in the Rear Combat Zone(RCZ), as well as the Comm Zone and L of C. A number of TA Field Ambulances also mobilised to the RCZ and the L of C. Casualties from the FSC Field Hospitals in FCZ were evacuated by either Ambulance Coaches or Ambulance Train to General Hospitals of the RSC in the RCZ. Air Evac was an aspiration only. All BMH’s had wartime Military Designations and Establishments. I am afraid that I don’t remember their Military Designation’s.

Unlike today, the then unwritten Treatment Philosophy was “The Most For The Least”. In simple terms Medical Main Effort was focused on the least injured to get them back into Battle, while the worst injured became P1 (expectant). Thank the good Lord that Ivan Blinked and the 3rd Shock Army never forced us to implement such a policy.

The list of Major RAMC/AMS units that I recall from that era is as follows:

23 Para Fd Amb
19 Field Ambulance Colchester ( 4 Div on TTW)
24 Field Ambulance Catterick ( 2 Inf Div on TTW)
1 Armoured Field Ambulance Hohne ( 1 Div) (The Title Armoured Division Field Ambulance had gone)
2 Armoured Field Ambulance Osnabruck (I Div)
3 Armoured Field Ambulance Sennelager (3 Div)
4 Armoured Field Ambulance Minden ( 4 Div – supported by 19 Fd Amb on TTW)
5 Armoured Field Ambulance Munster - (3 Div)
DMED BAOR in Bielefeld (War role as 84 F Med)
BAOR Rehab at Iserlohn (Moved to Corps Reinforcement Group on TTW)
BMH Berlin (Allied War Hospital – instant POW’s)
BMH Munster ( Fd Hosp on TTW)
BMH Iserlohn ( Fd Hosp on TTW)
BMH Rinteln (Fd Hosp on TTW)
Military Wing Musgrave Park Hospital – Op Banner
Cambridge Military Hospital ( Fd/Gen Hosp on TTW)
Royal Herbert Woolwich (Fd.Gen Hosp on TTW)
Tidworth Military Hospital. (Fd/ Gen Hosp on TTW)
Catterick Military Hospital (Fd/ Gen Hosp on TTW)
BMH Hong Kong
BMH Nepal
18 Fd Amb (-) Hong Kong
DMED Ludgershall (? F Med on TTW)
The Blood Supply Depot at Aldershot.
The Royal Army Medical College at Millbank
The RAMC Depot at Keogh
David Bruce Laboratories – Tidworth
DMRU Headley Court
QA Depot Aldershot
RADC Depot Aldershot
AMS Field Training Centre Chester
In addition to these there were many MRS’s in the UK and BAOR

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