Bert Gordon McKay
Known as Maxie
1917/06/19 - Born Milford Haven, South Wales
Son of Frederick James and Beatrice Amelia (nee Richards) McKay
1940/03/15 - Enlisted
Royal Army Service Corps
Att. 196 Field Ambulance
The role of the Field Ambulance was to treat and evacuate the wounded from the front line to a Casualty Clearing Station where more advanced medical care could be given. This was done through a series of Dressing stations. Each unit had a Regimental Aid Post (RAP) as close to the front line as possible. This was usually the first stop for all casualties. Most casualties were brought to the RAP by Regimental Stretcher Bearers. Basic treatment and assessments were carried out by an RAMC doctor attached to the unit, before more serious casualties were evacuated to an Advanced Dressing Station (ADS) by Field Ambulance stretcher bearers. From here the casualty was again treated or assessed before being taken to a Main Dressing Station (MDS) before finally being evacuated to the Casualty Clearing Station (CCS) or hospital. The Field Ambulance was responsible for everything coming from the RAP and going to the CCS. Ambulances were driven by members of the RASC attached to the unit, who were also armed for the protection of the RAMC. The RAMC men did not carry or have access to any weapons and relied solely on the soldiers around them for protection.
Click on photo to enlarge
The 196 Field Ambulance travelled on the SS ANDES and the SS ORANSAY leaving Great Britain on the 30th October 1941 with Convoy CT.5. The unit comprised 253 men, 54 RASC and 199 RAMC.
On arriving at Nova Scotia in Canada the unit travelled on the USS Joseph T Dickman leaving Halifax with Convoy William Sail 12X
1941/11/08 - At Halifax transferred to American liners
1941/11/10 - Left Halifax with Convoy William Sail 12X, destination unknown, believed to be Middle East.
Above Photo of Convoy William Sail 12X supplied by the late Maurice Rooney
Vought SB 2U Vindicator Scout Bomber - USS Ranger which was flying an Anti Submarine patrol over the convoy.
Front Line Top to Bottom:-
USS West Point - USS Mount Vernon - USS Wakefield - USS Quincy (Heavy Cruiser)
Back Row Top To Bottom:-
USAT Leonard Wood - USS Vincennes (Heavy Cruiser) - USS Joseph T Dickman
(USS Orizaba Ap-24 also sailed with Convoy though not pictured in photo)
1941/12/08 - Japan entered war by bombing Pearl Harbour and invading Malaya
18th Division diverted from Middle East destination to be Singapore
1941/12/25 - The men spent Christmas Day on board and the meal was a typical Christmas meal, roast turkey, gravy, pickles and sage dressing.
1941/12/27 - Arrived Bombay, disembarked and arrived by train at Ahmednager, where they trained for two weeks when they were trained back to Bombay. They boarded the West Point and Wakefield in Task Force 14.2 to sail for Singapore.
Eventually disembarked in Singapore on 29th January 1942.
During the fighting in Singapore the 196 Field Ambulance was based behind the 4th and 5th Suffolks and the 5th Beds and Herts from the 55th Brigade. Some men were attached to other units such as the Royal Artillery and 1st Cambridgeshires and they soon began to take casualties themselves.
As the situation grew more and more desperate 30 RASC men were taken from the unit to act as riflemen, along with RASC men from other units. The allied forces were slowly withdrawing closer to Singapore City and the 196 was based to the East of the Mac Ritchie reservoir near to the centre of the island. Men of the 196th were in support of one of the final British attacks of the campaign when Tomforce went into action. As the assault petered out the 196 unit found itself surrounded and had to evacuate the wounded protected by Tomforce.
The 196th finally withdrew to two Main Dressing Stations. One was based at the City High School next to Government House and behind the Cathy Building, and the other at Goodwood Park hotel, later to be occupied by Japanese officers. This is were they remained until the surrender.
Records indicate that the 196th had treated 426 men and of those, 11 men had died. These figures come from the War Diary of the unit that ends on 15th February 1942.
The 196th had suffered 6 casualties, but no fatalities, although Lt Cuthbert did not recover from his wounds for some months.
1942/04/03 - WO 417/41, Casualty List No. 788. Missing.
1943/05/05 - WO 417/60, Casualty List No. 1126. Previously posted Missing, Casualty List No. 788, 15/02/1942. Now reported a Prisoner of War.
1942/02/15 - Captured Singapore
PoW No. I 24400
Japanese Index Card - Side One
Japanese Index Card - Side Two
1942/06/18 - Transported in June Mainland Parties to Thailand
1st Train from Singapore to Thailand
New PoW No. 11165
1942/06 - Nong Pladuk, Service Yards and start of railway
Commander Col. Gill,
1943/03 - Tha Mayo, 239 km from Nong Pladuk
Commander Captain Adams
1943/10/ - Burma Thailand rail lines joined at Konkoita
1945/02 - Ubon
Worked on an airstrip laying a runway.
Commander Col. Smiley
1945/08/22 - After the Japanese surrender, Commander Col. Toosey set out from Nakhon Nayok to find his men of the 135th Field Regiment, the Argylls and Gordons who he was told were at Ubon. Leaving Col. Lilley in command of Nakhom Nayok, Toosey travelled to Bangkok and then onto Ubon by train, arriving 26th August.
He found the PoWs at Ubon in good spirits and they had a big welcome for Toosey, but there was tension between the PoW and their Japanese Guards, this Toosey relieved by locking away all the Japanese guns and sending the PoWs out to work.
Toosey then organised a parade and Col. Smiley the British commander of Ubon, took the salute. 4,000 PoWs stood in strict lines and sang ‘God Save the King’ while the Union Jack was raised.
1945/08/30 - Liberated Ubon, Thailand
Transport was arranged to Bangkok and then flights onto Rangoon to be repatriated.
Western Telegraph and Cymric Times
Thursday September 27th 1945
1945/11/16 - WO417/99, Casualty List No. 1912. Previously reported on Casualty List No. 1126 as Prisoner of War now Not Prisoner of War. Previous Theatre of War, Malaya.
30th August 2000
196 Field Ambulance
Thailand Burma Railway
Liberation Questionnaire - COFEPOW
‘The Colonel of Tamarkan’ by Julie Summers
Ubon - The Last Camp Before Freedom’ by Ray Withnall
KEW Files:- WO 361/2172, WO 392/25, WO 345/33, WO 361/1955, WO 361/2196, WO 361/2165, WO 361/2165, WO 361/2186, WO 361/2068,