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History

Early Beginnings

Although the Corps was not formed until 1921, an active military dental service did exist from the 17th Century. In the Regular Army of 1660, musketeers had to have sound incisor and canine teeth in order to be able to open the gunpowder charge and pour its contents into the muzzle of his weapon. This was the first time the Army had an official dental standard, and this is the origin of the phrase “bite the bullet”.

 

World War One

Without a fully recognised dental service, dental treatment was very limited at the start of the war. No arrangements had been made for the dental treatment of the vast army that was formed. However, before long British authorities requested that a dozen dentists be sent to service in France, and by 1918 there were around 850.

 

Formation of the Corps

On January 4th 1921, the formation of the Army Dental Corps (ADC) was authorised by Royal Warrant. A Special Army Order was signed by Winston Churchill on 11th January and Emerald Green was approved as the Corps colour. The Corps served in all Home Commands; the Army of the Rhine, Gibraltar, Egypt, Iraq, Turkey, Burma, India, North China and in the Caribbean.

 

World War Two

In 1940, dental personnel were attached to field ambulances, casualty clearing stations and general hospitals, providing a vital role. 84 members of the ADC were killed during the war, and over 100 were taken prisoner.

Military Cross winners

Captain FE Street MC

Capt Street landed on Queen White beach on D-Day under heavy mortar and machine-gun fire. On reaching the cover of some small sand dunes where an improvised dressing station had been organised by the personnel of this unit, he formed stretcher parties to bring in casualties from the beaches.

His coolness and determination under fire did a great deal to inspire confidence into the stretcher bearers, who brought in a large number of casualties.

 

Captain B Hirschfield MC

Knowing that the unit was short of medical officers, Captain Hirschfield, dental officer of 174 (H) Field Ambulance, volunteered to take command of one of the two Casualty Evacuation points which were to cross the River Rhine on the night of 23-24 March 1945. During the night when his stocks of stretchers and blankets were becoming exhausted, he re-crossed the river in the face of shell and mortar fire. At the crossing site, he made sure that there would be no failure in replenishment of these and other medical stores.

Soon after his return to the CEP, a vehicle was hit by a shell about 200 yards from the CEP. Despite the continued shelling and danger from mines, Captain Hirschfield immediately ran out with a stretcher party to the wrecked vehicle, providing first aid to the four wounded members of its crew, subsequently ensuring their safe evacuation. Throughout the night of 23-24th March and during the two following days, Captain Hirschfield continued his work with the utmost determination.

Capt M Freeman MC

On 15th May 1944, while leading stretcher bearers down a track in the Zubza valley in Burma, the party came under heavy mortar fire. Captain Freeman immediately attended to the wounded, carrying the injured on his back to a place of safety while mortar bombs continued to fall on the track. By his conduct, Captain Freeman saved several lives and prevented further casualties.

 

Capt DH Ridler MC

On the night of July 13th 1943, Captain Ridler was dropped by parachute near the Ponte Promosole in Sicily, leading his men and equipment over four miles of difficult countryside to set up a dressing station in a farm initially occupied by 20 enemy soldiers. For two days he worked in the dressing station under fire, administering anaesthetics for two surgeons. It was by his initiative and gallantry that the dressing station was set up, and by his devotion to duty that operations were performed even when the dressing station was over-run by the enemy.

Regimental honours

A Special Army Order was issued on 28th November 1946, approving the change in title to the Royal Army Dental Corps.

 

Women in the Corps

From 1942, women of the Auxiliary Territorial Service were attached to the Army Dental Service for general duties. On February 16th 1943, the first female dental surgeon was commission into the Corps. By October 1943 there were 87 female Dental Clerk Orderlies (Dental Nurses) working in Army dental centres.

 

Post-War

Since World War Two, RADC Officers and Soldiers have served in support of operations around the world including the Falklands, the Gulf, Korea, Rwanda, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, and more recently, Sierra Leone in the fight against Ebola.

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