GUERNSEY'S OCCUPATION AMBULANCE SERVICE
Was born in Guernsey during the German Occupation on the 26th May 1942 to Reg & Rona Blanchford. Although not remembering much of the Occupation himself he was brought up in the environment of the Ambulance Station living at La Motte, Rohais, during the Occupation and Croute Herivel, within the Ambulance Station, after the Occupation. His father Reg lived and breathed the Ambulance work and Gary and his younger brother Roger got to know all the workings of the Station and it’s equipment. By the ages of 12 they were allowed to drive the ambulances out of the garages into the yard while the men cleaned the garages out every night. As they grew older their father would often say, “We have a cliff rescue, do you want to come”, so they attended and assisted in many rescues during their teenage years.
Immediately after the Occupation Gary attended Froebel Infants School, then Elizabeth College , leaving school in 1959 when he joined his Grandfather’s concrete company until being accepted at Tektronix. After two years at Tektronix he applied to join the Guernsey Police Force. In August 1963 he married Phil Swallow and they have a daughter Rachel
He served in Police Force for the next 31 years gained experience in most of the police departments. His last ten years were spent in the Special Branch, much of that time as Detective Sgt. responsible for the day to day running of the department and liaison with other law enforcement agencies.
On retiring in 1994 he continued his hobbies of boating, cruising the French coast and sailing in Turkey. For the last few years he and his wife Phil have turned to a motor home exploring Europe for three to four months each year.
This book was prompted by always wanting to bring Reg Blanchford’s Occupation photos into the public domain with a narrative. That simple concept became more complicated as research produced the interesting history of the early period of the St John Ambulance Transport Section.
This book is the final product of that research.
About the book
The first Division of the St. John Ambulance Brigade started up in Guernsey in 1934 with a small group of people being the founder members. Reg Blanchford who had joined in 1935 after recovering from serious injuries incurred in a motorcycle accident in 1930 quickly realised that the only Ambulance Service at the time was States run on a part time basis. This meant that often there was a long delay between an accident and the voluntary driver being called out from his daytime job to take the States ambulance out to the accident. Reg started pushing for a professional service run by the SJAB. In 1936 they managed to purchase their first secondhand ambulance and in 1937 a new ambulance was purchased by public subscription. In 1939 the States voted for the Ambulance Service to be taken over by the SJAB and Reg Blanchford became Transport Officer in charge of the section. The Second World War then started and in 1940 the German Forces Occupied the Channel Islands.
The next five years would prove a trying time for the St John Transport Section and the Brigade as a whole, with fuel and food shortages, lack of spare parts for the ambulances and call-outs during curfew which proved hazardous at times. The majority of those being for maternity cases. The Transport Section developed under the most trying circumstances with innovation playing a leading part, from the building of a windmill to provide electricity, relieving the Germans of a couple of barrels of fuel to keep the ambulances on the road, building a gasogene run ambulance and later in 1944 building a horse-drawn ambulance. It was said at the end of the Occupation, that under Blanchford’s leadership they could claim that no call had gone unanswered and no patient had died through lack of attendance in an emergency.
This book expands and tells some of the stories through those early years with narrative combined with Reg Blanchford’s photos taken by him during the Occupation.
Reg Blanchford as Transport officer
Pro Utilitate Hominum
(For the service of mankind)
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