On this day 71 years ago (24/10/45) members of the AAGB gathered at Buckingham palace for their stand down parade. They were inspected by various dignitaries including HM Queen Elizabeth (Queen Mother). A cutting from the evening standard reads:
THE QUEEN REVIEWS 200 GIRL DRIVERS Two hundred girl drivers of the American Ambulance were being reviewed to-day by the Queen at a stand-down parade at Buckingham Palace. The service will be disbanded on November 3. Among the drivers – representing units from all parts of England and Wales – are girls with whom the Queen talked during her tours of the bombed cities with the King. The service was formed in 1940 with funds raised among Americans living in Britain. Latter it was supported by the British War Relief Society of America at a cost of more than £2000 a week. Its fleet of 300 ambulances have covered a total of 17 million miles.
The first image below is Driver Bacon’s card showing er order in the procession, it shows that she shared the cab with Robinson and also that she carried 8 others in the back of her ambulance. The photo shows the ladies under inspection.
Driver Bacon’s scrapbook reads “Sample of a chit made out on each journey” This chit shows that they worked a roughly 12 hour day, covering 250 miles, this shows the sheer scale of operations run by the AAGB.
AAGB cards, each card is presented with the AAGB logo on the back and the grey and red colours of the ambulances. This is a lovely and probably very rare item, possibly used to promote the AAGB and gain donations from America, or just simply for drivers to use in their down time.
The AAGB mainly used Ford mobile first aid units that were imported from America. We are currently seeking more information on the exact model of these vehicles. Below, JEV871 is seen departing Buckingham palace after being inspected by HM Queen Elizabeth (Queen mother) at the AAGB stand down parade in 1945. The Tax disc is from driver Bacon’s ambulance showing that it was a grey ford. It also appears that the AAGB had a small number of Austin K2/y ambulances (as used by the British during the war). The Leeds Austin K2/Y can be seen in the background of a photo of Leeds station being inspected by the Princess Royal. All AAGB vehicles were painted grey with a red stripe and the AAGB logo on the doors (for Ford’s) and on the sides and rear doors(Fro Austin K2/Y’s)
The AAGB uniform was very similar to that of the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY). It consisted of a hat, blouse and skirt. The AAGB Blouse had a pair of collar dogs, the same as that pictured bellow, they were 30mm in diameter and secured with two lugs and a split pin. The buttons on the blouse consisted of the crossed flags logo. There was also a Cloth badge, as pictured bellow, that was worn on each sleeve. The cap badge was the same as the collar dog however it was 36mm in diameter with folded metal fixings instead of lugs.The belts used were mostly modified Sam browne’s. Driver Bacon wore her fathers first world was belt during her service with the AAGB.
Below is the Leeds station Group photo and the names of as many as possible. A Dash indicates an unknown name. Separate to those in the photo is also another list of names we have also seen mentioned.
Group photo contains:
Phyll Cooling (Captain)
Other Names mentioned:
It seems fitting that our first post should be about the lady that made this blog possible by keeping extensive photographic record of the American Ambulance Great Britain (AAGB). The late Betty Bacon (latterly Sansom and Hopwood) served as a driver with the AAGB in Leeds. She kept lots of information, from newspaper cuttings to the tax disc from her ambulance. We hope that you enjoy the upcoming posts and that you find it interesting. If you have any information or artefacts you would like to send us or provide pictures of we would be extremely grateful, use the ‘Contact us’ page to get in touch.