In seeking some further information regarding an American chap who served with the American Field Service prior to joining the RAMC I came across the photographs of one of his contempories which I hope are worthy of inclusion here (with apologies if they have previously appeared on WW2 Talk). Courtesy of the archives of the American Field Service and AFS Intercultural Programs (AFS Archives). North Africa and Italy, the photography and words of John Candler Cobb II. This was our most memorable quote from Major Shaffer who ordered us to spread out our kits on the sand for inspection as dark clouds were threatening overhead. In memory of this baptism on our second day in Egypt, we echoed his words at many a platoon celebration over the next 60 years. Location: El Tahag Mobilization Camp, Egypt. Four of us, AFS Volunteers, were driving an ambulance out from Cairo along the Mediterranean Coast, to serve with the British 12th Light Field Ambulance (LFA), then at Marble Arch about a thousand miles West of Cairo. The ambulance broke down; so we hitched a ride with a friendly British Officer who was driving a 3-ton truck in a supply convoy and had room for us on top of his cargo. The Coast Road was strewn with an unbelievable array of destroyed military vehicles and junk, both British and German, evidence of the prolonged and bitter fighting back and forth. Location: Coast Road near Alexandria. These large and heavy 2-wheel-drive Humber ambulances were standard in the British 8th Army. They couldn’t handle loose sand or sticky mud as well as our nimble 4-wheel-drive Dodge ambulances; so we were assigned mostly front-line work. Note the 12th LFA [Light Field Ambulances ] hospital tent in the background. Location: 12th LFA [Light Field Ambulances], Marble Arch. Left Image) AFS Headquarters on the Move This was the mobile field office of Capt. Fred Hoeing, of the AFS 11 Ambulance Car Company. Note that under the American Flag can be seen a pair of AFS ambulances in the distance. The ambulances were dispersed in pairs at hundred yard intervals to reduce the risk in case of air attack. Fred Hoeing can be seen under the tent that is stretched over his three-ton-truck "Office", or "Bumf Engine" as we called it. Location: Tripolitanian Desert. (Right Image) Far from a Spreading Chestnut Tree The British Army blacksmith shown here is repairing springs for our ambulances. He could fix or make most parts for our ambulances. The springs can be seen laid out on the sand. The machine tools are inside the truck. The entire workshops could be packed up and away inside of an hour. This British Workshops Unit was attached to the AFS throughout the whole campaign and served us very well. Location: Tripolitanian Desert. The above two small prints are actually two of the 60 year-old prints that I developed and printed in the back of my ambulance in the desert at night in 1943. (I had to drape blankets over the windows for blackout.) I sent these very prints back to AFS, New York, with the captions and commentary attached, for use in raising money. After the war, I retrieved a few of them. Note the military censorship stamp and signature. Also note the pockmarks caused by sand on the glossy surface of the prints. The sand got everywhere. Breakfast usually consisted of oatmeal, biscuits, jam and tea. It was dished out by the British Army cooks soon after sunrise. Note the ambulances are dispersed in pairs at hundred yard intervals to reduce the risk of air attack. This meant a long walk to the cook truck. We ate sitting on the ground, and then got back in the convoy for another long day driving. At that stage in the war, the German planes usually tried to avoid hitting ambulances when strafing a convoy. That changed as things got worse for the Germans. Location: Libyan Desert near Sirte. We had plenty of gasoline, brought by ship; but water was very scarce. Here, "Fox" Edwards is boiling his clothes over a desert stove, a fire of gasoline poured on the sand. Harry Hopper is hanging his clothes on a line between ambulances. Location: Marble Arch, Libya. It was a wild scene, hundred of vehicles speeding, getting stuck, getting pulled out, churning noisily on several parallel tracks through this long ago reconnoitered secret route through Wider’s Gap, around the left flank of the German’s fortified Mareth line. Location: Wilder’s Gap, Tunisia. It was rough going. We ("Fox" Edwards and I) had a wounded German soldier on a stretcher in our ambulance. He was in great pain, so we had to go slowly. We fell behind our unit and found ourselves overtaken by the speeding, churning, and rumbling vehicles of the 10th Corps. All medical units were on the move, so there was no place to leave him. His condition looked pretty bad. During a brief stop, I recognized our friends of a New Zealand hospital unit traveling on a track parallel to ours. I went over to get medical advice for our patient; but when I got back, the whole convoy had moved off, including "Fox" Edwards with our patient in the ambulance (and, of course, all of my kit). The Kiwi’s were friendly and helpful, as always. They took good care of me for a few days while all units were on the move. Finally, the 12th Light Field Ambulance (LFA), to which we were attached, stopped near El Hamma and set up its tents. Here, I found "Fox" Edwards. We were able to leave our German patient here. We all worked night and day bringing in and caring for many more seriously wounded and burned soldiers (mostly German) from the Battle of Mareth. Location: Wilder’s Gap, Tunisia. In the heat of the midday African Sun, the surgical teams operated stripped to the waist and left the operating theater tent door wide open to get whatever breath of wind there might be. They had been operating day and night because they had so many seriously wounded patients, both British and German. In this photo, the surgeon is searching for a bit of shrapnel in a soldier’s groin. Location: 12th LFA [Light Field Ambulances], near El Hamma, Tunisia. More to follow. Kind regards, always, Jim.