About This Unit
The 3rd Australian Casualty Clearing Station was formed on 17 March 1916. It was the third and final Casualty Clearing Station that Australia would form for the war effort, with the other two Casualty Clearing Station's designated the 1st and the 2nd respectfully. Its formation troops originally came from the 10th Field Ambulance (VIC/TAS) and thus relatively few South Australian's served in the unit because it predominantly consisted of troops from Victoria or Tasmania. However, there were a number of South Australian nurses who served amongst its ranks during the war. It was disbanded on 26 April 1919.
After arriving in France on 26 September 1916 they travelled to the commune of Gezaincourt in the Somme Valley, roughly 18 miles north of Amines. Here it relieved the 11th British Casualty Clearing Station and on 14 October 1916 opened its doors to the wounded. The timing couldn't have been worst. The Somme Campaign was raging with full might and during these early few weeks the station could have admittances of up to 400 walking wounded a day. On their first day alone 259 cases were admitted.
For wounded arrivals the following process occurred: They were classified (sick, wounded etc,) fed, stripped of their clothing which was washed and dried and their wounds tended to. Depending on the severity of the wound some required operations and others simply needed a dressing.
As the fighting on the Somme began to cease in late 1916 the new threat of winter emerged and more cases of Trench Foot, Rheumatism and Pneumonia were admitted every day.
In early February 1917 the unit received orders to relocate to Edgehill (a Casualty Clearing Station near Dernancourt.) The station opened on the last day of February and carried on until 7 April 1917 when orders were given to move again to Grevillers. Whilst, stationed here the Casualty Clearing Station was forced to expand to cater for the large numbers of wounded coming from the Lagnicourt and Bullecourt campaigns. The help deal with the extra load the 3rd and 29th British Casualty Clearing Stations were also moved in.
As the focus of the Allies main 1917 assault moved north to Flanders the 3rd CCS was called to relocate to Brandhoek near Ypres in late July. A new Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel R D Campbell, was also appointed during this time with Lieutenant Colonel J Corbin returning to Australia. In August the site was increasingly shelled by the enemy and as a result moved back to Nine Elms which was closer to Poperinghe. Due to a number of causalities sustained during the shelling, the 3rd CCS was temporarily attached to the 10th CCS.
3rd CCS remained in operation until April 1918 when it withdrew to Esquelbecq due to the German Army's Spring Offensive. It operated until September 1918 when ordered to close the station as it was now impractically far behind the front line for continued operation. With the Allies Great Advance also now in full swing the 3rd CCS moved several times to Bandaghem (late Sep - mid Oct,) Dadizeele (late Oct - mid Nov) and finally to Oudenarde (mid Nov - early Dec.) When the armistice was signed the 3rd CCS made one last move to Euskirchen in Germany. It was located in the Deaf and Dumb Institution relieving the 1st Canadian CCS in late December 1918 until the unit’s disbandment on 26 April 1919. The process of transporting troops and nurses back to Australia in quotas then began. The Great War was over and would never be forgotten by those who fought and served in it.
The following is the list of Head Sisters that served with the 3rd Australian Casualty Clearing Station:
Head Sister I. O’Dwyer November 1916 – 14 November 1917
Head Sister A. G. Douglas 14 November 1917 – 14 May 1918
Head Sister E. W. Jeffries 14 May 1918 – 15 December 1918
Head Sister V. Woinarski 15 December 1918 – April 1919
Battle / Campaign / Involvement
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