17th Australian Field Ambulance

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Brief History

Formed at Royal Park in Victoria during December 1941 for service in the Northern Territory, from drafts from the 6th Fild Ambulance and the 14th Field Ambulance. They moved to Werribee in January 1942 to undertake training before departing for Winnellie in the Northern Territory in March. As a result of a revised Darwin defence plan, the unit moved to what was known as 56 Mile in support of the 3rd Australian Infantry Brigade where they remained until October 1943 when they were relieved, and moved to Warsonia in Victoria to take leave. Following their leave they concentrated during December 1943 at Kairi in North Queensland as part of the 23rd Australian Infantry Brigade.

During May 1944 they moved witht he Brigade to Lae in New Guinea, and then to Wau, returning to Lae in August. In September 1944 Australian units relieved the US units on various islands surrounding Rabaul. This resulted in the HQ Coy 17th Australian Field Ambulance moving to Green Island in support of HQ 23rd Infantry Brigade Group and the 27th Australian Infnatry Battalion; A Company moved to Emirau Island to support the 8th Australian Infantry Battalion; and B Company moved to the Treasury Islands in support of 7th Australian Infantry Battalion. In addition a Light Section moved to Munda with D Company - 7th Infantry Batttalion. These positions were maintained until April 1945 when the majority of the Brigade moved to Bougainville, leaving only the 8th Australian Infantry Battalion and its supporting detachment of B Company of the Field Ambulance.

In June 1945 the detachments joined the Field Ambulance on Bougainville, and they then moved to the northern sector of the island where they manned a Main Dressing Station at Soraken and an Advanced Dressing Station at Ratsua, leaving A Company to care for troops in the central sector before joining the rest of the unit in the northern sector near the end of the war.




Content has come from The Unit Guide - Volume 4 - The Australian Army 1939-1945, pages 4.072 & 4.073 - Graham R McKenzie-Smith - Big Sky Publishing - 2018

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