When Rye St John Had Three Vehicles
By Arthur Woodgate
The picture below is of the three ambulances that Rye St John were using to serve Rye & District prior to the State run service that started in the 1950’s.
The vehicle on the left was given to Rye by the War Department when they were sharing out their surplus transport at the end of World War Two. Ambulances were distributed between the Red Cross and St. John. These machines were brand new and the one that came to Rye was donated by an Israeli group, to help with the War effort. Mr. & Mrs. Reg Walker (Reg was transport manager at that time) an I, went to London where we collected it and drove it proudly back to Rye. It was a very strong vehicle and useful in our rural areas.
The other two vehicles were purchased as a result of public appeal, as was the Conduit Hill Headquarters, people were very generous in those days. We also had one great benefactor, Mr. Suren, it was he that made the headquarters and garages possible. I was storekeeper at that time. I was very sad to see the headquarters sold and the smaller one created within the garage block. I had our successive ambulances photographed and framed and hung on the wall of the big room upstairs. When the effects were moved from there to the new home the pictures disappeared, as did the memorial plaque to our only World War victim Frank Hatter. If anyone reading this should come across any pictures of motor ambulances and a wooden plaque with Frank’s name on in their attic or at a boot sale, please return them to Rye St John.
As an old volunteer ambulance driver of a past age, I wish our new vehicle every success.
Rye’s Own May 2005
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