American Ambulance 80th Anniversary

Eighty years ago today, Mr. Gilbert Carr, Mr Wallace Phillips and five others signed the article of association. In doing so, the American Ambulance got its license from the board of trade, issued on the 14th June 1940. From then until October 1945 they, all the directors and the drivers and officers of the American Ambulance worked tirelessly, doing their bit for the War effort.

Due to the current COVID-19 situation we can’t really do much to celebrate the 80th anniversary of their formation. If you look down below this post you’ll see a special offer for our book with an 80th anniversary bookmark. Please do have a look and support all the work we’re doing!

For this anniversary I thought I’d post this newspaper article which describes how the American Ambulance came into being:


Stationed in every regional area of Great Britain, the large blue – grey cars of the American Ambulance, Great Britain, bearing in a circle the crossed flags of Britain and the U.S.A., have now become a familiar sight. The service is another of America’s gestures to Britain in the hour of need. Financed and maintained by American donations, it is operated under the direction of the Ministry of Health. Behind the foundation of the American Ambulance, Great Britain , with its total strength of 260 motorised ambulances, surgical units and mobile first-aid posts, there lies an interesting story.

In the spring of 1940, the American Society in London met to decide on the nature of the celebration due to be held by American Residents on the Fourth of July, American Independence Day. For 42 years, American residents here have marked their day with a banquet and ball. This time however, a man of medium stature, herculean shoulders, and hair en brosse, got up at the meeting. He had a suggestion to make.

To his mind anything in the nature of a celebration at this period would be out of place for although the Fourth of July was a day set aside by Americans to commemorate Independence Day, it also unfortunately marked a war between America and Britain. The thing to do, he thought was for the Americans who had enjoyed the hospitality of Great Britain to make a worth while gesture of assistance to their foster-country.

The American who made this suggestion was Mr. Gilbert H. Carr, twice Chairman of the American Society in London and at present honorary secretary. From his suggestion grew the American Ambulance, Great Britain with its 260 motorised ambulances, surgical units and mobile first aid posts, for the hurried transportation of complete surgical units to areas where they are most required, and four stretcher ambulances for the transportation of war victims.

Now listen to what the Minister of Health had to say when the American Ambulance, Great Britain was turned over to him: “It is only a few weeks since I was informed that American residents in this country wished to present a number of ambulances for the services of civilian casualties through whatever ordeal lay ahead of the people of Britain. Needless to say, I accepted the suggestion with alacrity. But I did not think then that the offer which was made with great modesty would materialise so swiftly into such a magnificent gift as it has become.

Mr. Gilbert H. Carr is now acting Director General of the American Ambulance, Great Britain but this is only one of this American friend of Britain’s activities. He is honorary secretary of the American Committee for Air Raid Relief, and honorary secretary of the Advisory Committee of the British War Relief Society of America.

Mr. Carr has been helping Britain for years. At the age of 14 he ran away to join the British Army in the Boer War. In 1917 he hurried to the recruiting office when America entered the war and was one of the first officers of the United States Army Expeditionary Force to land in this country. The Great War over, Gilbert Carr came back as a businessman. Although competing for the first time with his British business cousins, he was so well liked by them that he was twice made chairman of the Incorporated Sales Management Association of Great Britain, and is at present President of the London Branch.

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