2/12th Field Ambulance (Australia)

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name=2/12th Field Ambulance


caption=Members of the 2/12th Field Ambulance during a parade in November 1943
dates=1940-1946
country=Australia
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branch=Australian Army
type=Medical
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nickname='2/12th Pioneers'
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The 2/12th Field Ambulance was an Australian military unit of the Second Australian Imperial Force, serving during World War II. During their six years of service, over 200 soldiers were killed, the highest figure for a non-combatant unit in Australian history.

The 2/12th was founded at Sydney Showground on 22 November, 1940. The unit was attached to the 23rd Infantry Brigade, 8th Division until February, 1943, when it was moved to II Corps. Most of the recruits were from rural New South Wales. During their training in the Northern Territory, the members of the 2/12th provided medical support for the 23rd Brigade, participated in the construction of five small medical hospitals, and assisted sappers and pioneer assault units, earning the unit the nickname "2/12th Pioneers".

Following the beginning of the Pacific War, 45 members of the 2/12th were each attached to Gull Force and Sparrow Force, and sent to defend the islands of Ambon and Timor respectively. All of the members of the 2/12th serving with Gull Force were captured or killed by the Japanese on 1 February, 1942, with many dying as prisoners of war on Ambom or Hainan. Many of those serving with Sparrow Force were also captured.

The half-strength unit was reinforced, and on 10 May, 1943, the 192 members of the 2/12th boarded hospital ship "Centaur" to be transported to New Guinea. On 14 May, 1943, at 4:00 a.m., "Centaur" was torpedoed by Japanese submarine "I-177", and sank in less than three minutes. Of the 332 aboard, there were only 64 survivors, including 14 members of the 2/12th. It was 36 hours before they were resuced by USS "Mugford".

The 14 survivors were reinforced by men from the 4th Light Field Ambulance, and served in Borneo, Morotai, Tarakan, Lutong, and Kuching. The unit stood down in 1946, having served past the war's end, working with the retrieval and care of Allied prisoners of war.

Bibliography

* – [http://scholar.google.co.uk/scholar?hl=en&lr=&q=author%3A+intitle%3AThe+2%2F12+Australian+Field+Ambulance&as_publication=ADF+Health&as_ylo=2002&as_yhi=2002&btnG=Search Scholar search]


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