Page 26 – 27 / 1941 – 42

Right Hand Page

A brief resume of the functions of the base depot medical stores, Malaya.

1/ Base depot medical stores – a depot stores with slightly modified staff – supplied the whole of the Malayan command troops thro’ various subsidiary stores such as Penang, 2/ADMS. Kuala Lumpur, 8/DMS Bedong, Sub-Depot Kuala Lipis, 3/ADMS, AIP. Johore Bahru and Ambulance Train Stores at Gemas and Tajong Malam. All island troops were supplied from base. Sources of supply were United Kingdom on half-yearly demand, Australia and India. Australian stores were handles in bulk by the Depot and eventually transferred to Johore Bahru.

ADMINISTRATION. The Stores were administered by D.D.M.S. Malaya command thro’ his D.A.D.M.S.(Stores) and the O.C. Stores. Major R.E.Harvery MBE D.C.M RAMU formerly O.C. was appointed D.A.D.M.S. whilst his colleague Major J.E.Barnett R.A.M.C. took command. During the immense pressure of work of the short mob. period down to the critical days of warfare with its problems of maintaining supplies to front line, and collection of goods from burning goddowns and crowded railway yards, ledgers and bookings had to be maintained as for Peace Time. It is noteworthy that a Financial Advisor observation of the 1940/41 period was received during critical days.

Central Provision office formed in India for speedier provision of drugs etc obtainable in the Far East, was still in its infancy and entailed an enormous amount of work compiling indents and supplying data and involved the D.A.D.M.S in a flying visit to India. Control of all military medical stores in the command was vested in this administration, in itself no mean tsk [sp] when distance and means of communication and a single track railway is considered.

The subordinate staff consisted of clerks, storemen, dispensers and a carpenter. In addition to theses [sp] military personnel two civilian clerks were employed, both were Southern Indian. One a general clerk as such was almost useless, but at least proved to be a man and was present with the store after capitulation. The other, a learner ledger clerk, was a burden who ‘ratted’ when asked to assist the loading of vehicles when evacuation took place. Indeed he is fortunate that the O.C. was present when his (Davis’) opinions were expressed.

It may be asked “Why a carpenter in a medical store”. This man did in fact consider his labours could be better employed elsewhere, but eventually finished with two Chinese assistants. His work varied from the construction of Balkan Beams – many were required for casualties from H.M.S. Prince of Wales and Repulse (In this connection it is noteworthy that an immediate demand on Ordnance for the requisite cord was met with the routine answers “Submit thro. A.D.O.S.” The fact that many casualties had been received and that the immediate indent was signed by a Major Quartermaster himself in command of a Depot Store and therefore well aware of channels of communication, but who, in view of the urgency had applied direct, bore no weight. The cord was eventually purchased in twon [sp]) to construction of boxes for improvised water sterilisation outfits, arm splints from tea chests and dozens of self designed and very efficient tourniquets and a sight testing stand.

BUILDINGS AND LOCATIONS. A modern building (1940) was quite inadequate to store materials on hand in 1941. The absence of a loading platform resulted in much extra handling of heavy packages and seemingly each successive model of vehicles provided a higher lift. Roads leading to the store were very narrow, inexperienced drivers with outsize 3 ton lorries resulted in ditched lorries on an average three times weekly. This meant the blocking of the road until such time as a breakdown lorry could be called and put to work. Subsidiary stores were taken, two in Singapore city, one at Serangoon some 10 miles away and one at Nee Soon somewhat further. Later, on the evacuation of the families several married quarters were taken in the Tanglin area. These, however, were of little value as stores in view of the smallness of the rooms. One block stood off the main road having no side road, and necessitated man handling of packages and appreciable distance and blocked the road to heavy traffic during the operation.

TRANSPORT. It is interesting to note that the Base Depot had no transport charge whilst No.2/A.D.M.S. possessed 1 x 15 cwt truck. This truck was held at base for handling of light loads and local purchase – a branch of medical store work entailing daily visits to civil disperses and intuitions buying up stocks urgently required and not readily available from our own stores. On the outbreak of hostilities this one and only truck was recalled by K.A.S.C. as being ‘Front line vehicles’. Transport was indented for as required and a standing indent for 1 x 30 cwt and 6 x 3 ton lorries was placed. The 30 cwt was a certainty whereas provision of heavy vehicles varied from 6 to 3 and after 2 and more often than not included either military vehicles without canopies or impressed lorries with low sides and therefore not to suited to the type of work to be carried out. The loan of lorries from H.Q. of a nearly Field medical unit time and again ensured provision of medical supplies. (Continues on page 28 -29)