Rover 12hp Sanka

 World War I 

 ROVER 12hp Ambulance Car 


The ominous ROVER 12hp ambulance - nothing specific is known.

BRC Person
The emblem on the uniform cap shows the affiliation to the British Red Cross Organisation. It could identify some of the people in the picture above.

This picture of a ROVER 12hp ambulance was - and still is - a mystery. Initially, only the picture was available without accompanying text. A first search referred to the uniforms of the persons in this picture. Very quickly it became clear that these were not uniforms of a military unit. Further speculation concerned the vehicle's number plate, which was only partially visible.

After comparing numerous uniforms in use around the time of World War I, it seems certain that the gentlemen were members of the British Red Cross. This does not include the two gentlemen in darker uniform, white shirt and headgear with white top. These have not been identified as yet. They could belong to one of the numerous volunteer units that were active in Britain. They could also conceivably belong to a London ambulance unit.

The car is a ROVER 12hp "Clegg", which was also offered as a van. The body is a typical ambulance body of the time. The number plate, which is unfortunately only partially legible, could indicate Birmingham - before the beginning of World War I - or Edinburgh - after the war. The connection between Birmingham and ROVER seems more logical, especially as the vehicle is a model that can be dated between 1912 and 1918. Another clue was that ambulance cars did not carry number plates during the war.

That the need for ambulances was permanently great is evident from a note in First Aid, a trade journal for ambulance personnel, from December 1915: "Under the terrible conditions of war on the Western Front, the life of an ambulance lasts ... not more than six weeks or two months."
In October 1915, the two major relief organisations - British Red Cross and St. John Society merged to form the Joint War Committee. They maintained 1,301 motor ambulances, kitchen and passenger vehicles at this time. After an initial fundraising campaign, 512 ambulances were purchased. And volunteer - organisations were established throughout the country and relief hospitals were set up.

Thanks to the following organisations for their support in the research: - Mrs. Joanna Legg - The Grear War 1914 - 1918 - Taff Gillingham - Specialist for militay uniforms and equipment - British Red Cross Archive - The Museum of the Order of St. John - Surrey Vintage Vehicle Society - Bozi Mohacek


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