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243 (The Wessex) Field Hospital was formed on 1 January 1996 upon the amalgamation of 211 Field Hospital (Volunteers) and 219 Field Hospital (Volunteers) but can trace its history back to 1907 and the original formation of the Territorial Army, now know as the Army Reserve.

Since its formation the Hospital has deployed personnel on all the major operations from WW1 to the present day in Afghanistan. Most recently in October 2012 it deployed a Hospital Squadron to Afghanistan on Operation Herrick 17.

A potted history

211 (Wessex) Casualty Clearing Station. This unit was formed in 1967 on the amalgamation of 3 units:

  • 11 (Southern) Casualty Clearing Station RAMC (TA) based at Plymouth.
  • 128 (Wessex) Field Ambulance RAMC (TA) based at Exeter.
  • 23 (Cornwall) Field Dressing Station RAMC (TA) based at Truro.

128 Field Ambulance (previously 24 Field Ambulance and the oldest of the 3 units), was raised in 1907 on the formation of the Territorial Force. In the First World War they saw service in France and Belgium and were unique in the RAMC in being awarded the French Croix de Guerre. In the Second World War they were part of the Guards Armoured Division which landed in Europe on D Day and were later involved in the drive to relieve Arnhem, and subsequently the invasion of Germany.

11 Casualty Clearing Station was raised in 1939 at Torquay and was part of the British Expeditionary Force in Northern Europe, being one of the last medical units to be evacuated from Dunkirk. Later they served in the Lebanon and went on to the invasion of Italy.

23 Field Dressing Station was one of the units formed with the re-establishment of the Territorial Army in 1947. On 1 April 1970 Casualty Clearing Stations were renamed Field Hospitals and the title of the unit became 211 (Wessex) Field Hospital Royal Army Medical Corps (Volunteers).

219 (Wessex) Field Hospital. This unit was formed in 1967 through the amalgamation of:

  • 19 (Southern) (City of Bath) Gen Hosp RAMC (TA)
  • 129 (Bristol) Field Ambulance (Fd Amb) RAMC (TA)
  • 130 (Portsmouth) Fd Amb RAMC (TA)

19 General Hospital was formed during the Second World War and served in the Middle East. 129 and 130 Field Ambulances saw service with the 43rd Wessex Division during the invasion of Northern Europe in 1944/45. After the war these units were disbanded. Two years later the Territorial Army was reformed and these three medical units were re-established in the same locations.

In 1967 the TA underwent a major reorganisation with many units up and down the country either amalgamating or being disbanded. 219 (Wessex) General Hospital was formed through the amalgamation of the three independent units in Bath, Bristol and Portsmouth.

In 1969 the unit Headquarters moved from Bath to the TA Centre in Ashmead Road, Keynsham, near Bristol. In 1973 the Bristol Detachment was moved from Bristol to join the Headquarters in Keynsham. The unit was granted the Freedom of Keynsham in 1982 and this freedom was exercised in 1993.

In 1985 the unit’s role was changed on mobilisation to support the British Army of the Rhine with a 400 bed hospital and its name changed to 219 (Wessex) Field Hosp RAMC (V). In 1992 the buildings at Keynsham were enhanced at very considerable cost in anticipation of long term occupancy. Then, in 1996, 211 and 219 Fd Hosps (V) were amalgamated to form 243 (The Wessex) Field Hosp (V) and were under command of 43 (Wessex) Brigade.

In April 2001, the unit came under command of Headquarters Medical Group based in York (who itself changed its name on 1 Aug 2002 to HQ 2nd Medical Brigade). And finally, on 6 Jul 02 the Freedom of Exeter was bestowed upon the unit.

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