Friends Ambulance Unit / Uned Ambiwlans y Crynwyr



The FAU badge

The Friends Ambulance Unit (hereafter the FAU) was a civilian ambulance service set up by a group of Quakers, immediately after war was declared in August 1914.

In a letter that month one of the Quaker founders explained that, having been in touch with others of like mind, he had found “that in this crisis … they want to render some service more commensurate with their powers … than is involved in the administration of war relief at home.” They were prompted by a desire to demonstrate their practical loyalty to their country, at a time when thousands of young men were volunteering for military service, whilst remaining true to their Quaker peace testimony. They were not prepared to bear arms. The risk involved in working at the front was recognised from the start.

The first appeal for volunteers was made in August 1914, and by September the first group was being trained and prepared for service. From then until 1919, when the unit was disbanded, Quakers and non-Quakers, some 1,800 in all, served in the FAU. To speed up service the FAU sought and were allied to the work of the British Red Cross and the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. The first Anglo-Belgian Ambulance Unit, as it was then known, was sent to Dunkirk on 31 October 1914.


FAU Ambulance train and its staff

The FAU was an independent organisation and had no official connection to the Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain, although its management and much of its funding came from members of the Society. Whereas those in the military were paid, those who joined the FAU were reliant on the funds raised by the organisation. Serving members of the Unit remained civilians and were not subject to military discipline, although they did wear khaki uniforms and their own insignia. They also used military titles, and close discipline was maintained, essential given the dangerous circumstances under which they worked. One member of the FAU commented that it was in fact “a strange hybrid of pacifism and militarism.”

The FAU was organised into two sections, one for foreign service the other for home service. The foreign section carried out civilian relief work in those areas of Belgium which the allies occupied, whilst the ambulance units, motor and train provided service behind the allied front lines. FAU workers also staffed many hospitals in both France and Belgium, and worked on two hospital ships. Work with civilians, for example, saw the FAU establish two orphanages. In Ypres between December 1914 and May 1915 they worked with those affected by a typhoid epidemic.

The foreign section saw seven of their members killed by military action. The first of these was Frederick Garratt, aged 22, killed by shell fire evacuating the wounded in September 1915. Then in November Walter Messer, aged 20, was killed by a bomb dropped by an aeroplane undertaking the same service as his friend Frederick. Both were buried in the same military cemetery, as are all the FAU men “killed in action.”

All the FAU men who served in the foreign section were to be awarded the medals given to all military personnel at war’s end.

Apart from administering and managing the whole of the organisation, the home service section, based in London, dispatched FAU volunteers to hospitals across Britain. When in January 1916 conscription was introduced the home section established the General Service Section to organise work for conscientious objectors, who had been given exemption by local military tribunals, conditional on them being attached to the FAU. Many of these men undertook agricultural work, some worked in education, welfare work or undertook work with the Friends War Victims Relief Committee (FWVRC) which had been set up officially by the Quakers to help and assist civilians affected by the war. A notable Welsh worker with the FWVRC was T. Alwyn Lloyd, who became a prominent Cardiff- based architect and was one of the founders of the Council for the Protection of Rural Wales and of the Town Planning Institute.

Those FAU men who had joined and were serving in the FAU before 1916 were given absolute exemption by their local military tribunals, and were excused attendance at the tribunal to explain why they were not taking up arms – a sign that their sacrifice and bravery was recognised.

The FAU in Wales:

According to the FAU records 29 people from Wales served in the FAU, or at least had addresses in Wales when they volunteered. Thus the name of that prominent Welsh pacifist, George M Ll Davies, does not appear in the Welsh list because, when he volunteered, he lived in London. OF these 29 two were women; Dorothy Finnermore, from Brecon, gave service at Uffculme Hospital, Birmingham from September 1917 and Edith Francis, from Caersws, served as a nurse in Dunkirk, France for most of 1918.

There were to be no volunteers for the FAU from Anglesey, Meirionydd or Pembrokeshire and of the 27 Welshmen, eight were given absolute exemption. Of the other 19 conditional exemptions, and who joined after January 1916, 6 served in the foreign section, the other 13 saw service at home.

FAU 3This is Robert William Williams from Penygroes Caernarfonshire who, given conditional exemption, joined the FAU in 1916 and served in Dunkirk from June 1916 to February 1919. Robert was a slate quarryman who in 1915 won a scholarship to Ruskin College, Oxford and on his return was appointed assistant secretary of the North Wales Quarrymen’s Union. His conscientious objection to military action clearly did not affect his progress or his standing in his community after the war when he returned to Penygroes. In 1933 he was made secretary of the quarrymen’s union, was elected as a member of Caernarfonshire County Council which he served for 40 years, becoming chairman of the Council as well as Chairman of the Education Committee for 30 years, a position which was then held in high esteem. His older brother was also a conscientious objector, but did farm work in North Wales but not under the FAU. Another brother, Maurice, enlisted in 1915 spending most of his service in the Balkans and Middle East. This division of action in the same family is a notable feature of many who joined the FAU.

A notable example is the Dodd family of four brothers from Wrexham. Each of the brothers followed different routes in relation to the war.

FAU3When war broke out Ernest Edward Dodd, [born 1887] (top left – picture courtesy of the late Mrs A. H. Dodd via W. Alister Williams) was teaching in Beaumaris County School. Following his appearance before the military tribunal in 1916, he joined the FAU, and initially saw service at home before going out to Dunkirk in August 1917. He was demobilised in March 1919.

Charles, born 1884, (centre left) was a Congregational minister who was therefore excused military service. He became one of the most prominent theologians of his day, becoming Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge University and General Director of the New English Bible project. In 1961 he was made Companion of Honour.

Arthur Herbert Dodd, born 1891,(front) became Professor of History at the University College of North Wales in 1930, a noted Welsh historian. He joined the Royal Army Service serving with the West Lancashire Field Ambulance Unit, but unlike those joining the FAU, Arthur would have been subject to military discipline and would be expected to take up arms if called upon. Finally Percy, born 1889 (centre) was a lecturer in Philosophy at Jesus College, Oxford and took commission as a captain with the West Yorkshire Regiment, his health was affected by his war service and he die.



FAU badge

Gwasanaeth ambiwlans sifil oedd Uned Ambiwlans y Crynwyr (FAU o hyn allan), a sefydlwyd gan grŵp o Grynwyr, yn syth ar ôl cyhoeddi rhyfel ym mis Awst 1914.

Mewn llythyr y mis hwnnw, esboniodd un o sylfaenwyr y Crynwyr, ar ôl bod mewn cysylltiad ag eraill o’r un meddylfryd, ei fod wedi darganfod “that in this crisis … they want to render some service more commensurate with their powers … than is involved in the administration of war relief at home.” Roeddent yn cael eu hysgogi gan yr awydd i ddangos eu teyrngarwch ymarferol i’w gwlad, ar adeg pan roedd miloedd o ddynion ifanc yn gwirfoddoli ar gyfer gwasanaeth milwrol, tra’n aros yn driw i dystiolaeth heddwch y Crynwyr. Nid oeddent yn barod i fynd i ryfel. Deallwyd y risg oedd yn gysylltiedig â gweithio ar y ffrynt o’r cychwyn cyntaf.

Gwnaethpwyd yr apêl gyntaf am wirfoddolwyr ym mis Awst 1914 ac erbyn mis Medi, roedd y grŵp cyntaf yn cael ei hyfforddi a’i baratoi i fynd i ryfel. O hynny ymlaen tan 1919, pan chwalwyd yr uned, gwasanaethodd Crynwyr ac unigolion nad oeddent yn Grynwyr, rhyw 1,800 i gyd, yn yr FAU. Er mwyn cyflymu’r gwasanaeth, chwiliodd yr FAU am waith Croes Goch Prydain ac Urdd Sant Ioan o Jerwsalem ac ymunodd â nhw. Anfonwyd yr Uned Ambiwlans Eingl-Felgaidd gyntaf, fel yr oedd yn cael ei hadnabod bryd hynny, i Dunkirk ar 31 Hydref, 1914.

Sefydliad annibynnol oedd yr FAU, heb unrhyw gysylltiad swyddogol â Chymdeithas y Cyfeillion (Crynwyr) ym Mhrydain, er mai aelodau o’r Gymdeithas oedd yn gyfrifol am ei rheolaeth a llawer o’i chyllid. Roedd y rhai hynny a oedd yn y lluoedd arfog yn cael eu talu, ond roedd y rhai hynny a ymunodd â’r FAU yn dibynnu ar yr arian a godwyd gan y sefydliad. Parhaodd aelodau oedd yn gwasanaethu yn yr Uned i fod yn sifiliaid, ac nid oeddent yn destun disgyblaeth filwrol, er eu bod yn gwisgo eu hiwnifformau caci a’u harwyddluniau eu hunain. Roeddent hefyd yn defnyddio teitlau milwrol, ac yn cadw at ddisgyblaeth lem, oedd yn hanfodol o ystyried yr amgylchiadau peryglus yr oeddent yn gweithio ynddynt. Dywedodd un aelod o’r FAU ei fod yn wir “a strange hybrid of pacifism and militarism.”

Roedd yr FAU wedi’i threfnu’n ddwy adran, un ar gyfer gwasanaethu tramor a’r llall ar gyfer gwasanaethu adref. Roedd yr adran dramor yn gwneud gwaith cymorth sifil yn yr ardaloedd hynny o Wlad Belg oedd dan oresgyniad y cynghreiriaid, tra bod yr unedau ambiwlans, moduron a threnau yn darparu gwasanaeth tu ôl i rengoedd blaen y cynghreiriau. Roedd cyflogeion yr FAU hefyd yn staffio llawer o ysbytai yn Ffrainc a Gwlad Belg, ac yn gweithio ar ddwy long ysbyty. Drwy weithio gyda sifiliad, er enghraifft, adeiladodd yr FAU ddau gartref i blant amddifaid. Buont yn gweithio yn Ypres rhwng mis Rhagfyr 1914 a mis Mai 1915, gyda phobl yr effeithiwyd arnynt gan epidemig teiffoid.

Gwelodd yr adran dramor saith o’i haelodau’n cael eu lladd drwy weithredu milwrol. Y cyntaf o’r rhain oedd Frederick Garrett, 22 oed, a gafodd ei ladd gan dân gragen yn gwagio’r anafwyd ym mis Medi 1915. Yna ym mis Tachwedd, lladdwyd Walter Messer, oedd yn 20 oed, gan fom a ollyngwyd gan awyren, wrth iddo gyflawni’r un gwasanaeth â’i gyfaill Frederick. Claddwyd y ddau yn yr un fynwent filwrol, fel holl ddynion yr FAU a ‘laddwyd mewn brwydr’Fau2

Byddai holl bersonél milwrol yr FAU a wasanaethodd yn yr uned dramor yn derbyn y medalau ar ddiwedd y rhyfel.

Ar wahân i weinyddu a rheoli’r sefydliad cyfan, roedd yr adran gwasanaethu adref, yn Llundain, yn anfon gwirfoddolwyr yr FAU i ysbytai ar draws Prydain. Pan gyflwynwyd consgripsiwn ym mis Ionawr 2016, sefydlodd yr adran gartref yr Adran Gwasanaethau Cyffredinol i drefnu gwaith i wrthwynebwyr cydwybodol, a oedd wedi cael eu heithrio gan dribiwnlysoedd milwrol lleol, cyhyd â’u bod yn gysylltiedig â’r FAU. Bu llawer o’r dynion hyn yn gwneud gwaith amaethyddol, bu rhai yn gweithio ym myd addysg, gwaith lles neu yn gwneud gwaith gyda Phwyllgor Rhyddhad Ffrindiau Dioddefwyr y Rhyfel a oedd wedi cael ei sefydlu’n swyddogol gan y Crynwyr i helpu a chynorthwyo sifiliaid yr effeithiwyd arnynt gan y rhyfel. Roedd T. Alwyn Lloyd yn weithiwr Cymreig nodedig gyda’r pwyllgor, a daeth yn bensaer enwog yng Nghaerdydd ac yn un o sylfaenwyr Cyngor Diogelu Cymru Wledig a’r Sefydliad Cynllunio Trefol.

Rhoddwyd eithriad diamod i’r dynion FAU hynny oedd wedi ymuno ac a oedd yn gwasanaethu yn yr FAU cyn 1916 gan eu tribiwnlysoedd milwrol lleol, a chawsant eu hesgusodi rhag bod yn bresennol yn y tribiwnlys i egluro pam nad oeddent yn mynd i ryfel – arwydd bod eu haberth a’u dewrder yn cael eu cydnabod.

FAU yng Nghymru:

Yn ôl cofnodion yr FAU, bu 29 o bobl o Gymru yn gwasanaethu yn yr FAU, neu oedd, o leiaf, â chyfeiriadau yng Nghymru pan wirfoddolont, Felly, nid yw enw’r heddychwr Cymreig enwog, George M Ll Davies, yn ymddangos yn y rhestr Gymreig oherwydd pan wirfoddolodd, roedd yn byw yn Llundain. O’r 29 hyn, roedd dwy yn fenywod; Dorothy Finnemore, o Aberhonddu, a wasanaethodd yn Ysbyty Uffculme, Birmingham o fis Medi 1917, ac Edith Francis, o Gaersws, a wasanaethodd fel nyrs yn Dunkirk, Ffrainc am y rhan fwyaf o 1918.

Nid oedd unrhyw wirfoddolwyr ar gyfer yr FAU yn dod o Ynys Môn, Meirionnydd neu Sir Benfro ac o’r 27 o Gymry, rhoddwyd eithriad diamod i wyth ohonynt. O’r 19 o eithriadau amodol eraill, ac a ymunodd ar ôl Ionawr 1916, gwasanaethodd 6 yn yr adran dramor, a’r 13 arall gartref.

FAU 3Dyma Robert William Williams o Benygroes Sir Gaernarfon a phan roddwyd eithriad amodol iddo, ymunodd â’r FAU ym 1916 a gwasanaethodd yn Dunkirk o fis Mehefin 1916 tan fis Chwefror 1919. Roedd Robert yn chwarelwr llechi, a enillodd ysgoloriaeth i Goleg Ruskin, Rhydychen ym 1915 ac ar ôl iddo ddychwelyd, penodwyd ef yn ysgrifennydd cynorthwyol Undeb Chwarelwyr Gogledd Cymru. Yn amlwg, ni effeithiodd ei wrthwynebiad cydwybodol i weithredu milwrol ar ei gynnydd nac ar ei statws yn ei gymuned ar ôl y rhyfel, pan ddychwelodd i Benygroes. Ym 1933, cafodd ei wneud yn ysgrifennydd undeb y chwarelwyr, cafodd ei ethol fel aelod o Gyngor Sir Caernarfon, lle gwasanaethodd am 40 mlynedd, a daeth yn gadeirydd y Cyngor yn ogystal â Chadeirydd y Pwyllgor Addysg am 30 mlynedd, swydd a ystyriwyd bryd hynny yn uchel ei pharch. Roedd ei frawd hŷn hefyd yn wrthwynebydd cydwybodol, ac yn gweithio ar fferm yng Ngogledd Cymru, ond nid o dan yr FAU. Ymrestrodd brawd arall, Maurice, ym 1915, a threuliodd hwn y rhan fwyaf o’i wasanaeth yn y Balcanau a’r Dwyrain Canol. Mae’r rhaniad hwn o ran gweithredu yn yr un teulu yn nodwedd nodedig o lawer a ymunodd â’r FAU.

Enghraifft nodedig yw’r teulu Dodd, sef pedwar brawd o Wrecsam. Dilynodd pob un o’r brodyr wahanol lwybrau mewn perthynas â’r rhyfel.

Pan ddechreuodd y rhyfel, roedd Ernest Edward Dodd, [ganwyd 1887] (chwith uchaf – llun drwy garedigrwydd y diweddar Mrs A. H. Dodd drwy W.Alister Williams.) yn dysgu yn Ysgol Gynradd Biwmares. Ar ôl iddo ymddangos gerbron y tribiwnlys milwrol ym 1916, ymunodd â’r FAU, a gwasanaethodd gartref i ddechrau, cyn mynd allan i Dunkirk ym mis Awst 1917. Cafodd ei ryddhau o’r fyddin ym mis Mawrth 1919.

FAU3Roedd Charles, a aned ym 1884 (yn y canol ar y chwith) yn weinidog gyda’r Annibynwyr, felly, cafodd ei esgusodi rhag gwneud gwasanaeth milwrol. Daeth yn un o ddiwinyddion mwyaf blaenllaw ei ddydd, gan ddod yn Athro Brenhinol mewn Diwinyddiaeth ym Mhrifysgol Caergrawnt a Chyfarwyddwr Cyffredinol y prosiect New English Bible. Ym 1961, cafodd ei wneud yn Gydymaith Anrhydedd.

Roedd Arthur Herbert Dodd, a anwyd ym 1891, (ffrynt) yn Athro Hanes yng Ngholeg Prifysgol Gogledd Cymru ym 1930, ac yn hanesydd Cymreig nodedig. Ymunodd â Gwasanaeth Brenhinol y Fyddin yn gwasanaethu gydag Uned Ambiwlans Cae Gorllewin Swydd Gaerhirfryn, ond yn wahanol i’r rhai hynny oedd yn ymuno â’r FAU, byddai Arthur wedi bod yn destun disgyblaeth filwrol a byddai disgwyl iddo ddwyn arfau pe gelwid arno Yn olaf, roedd Percy, a anwyd ym 1889 (canol) yn ddarlithydd mewn athroniaeth yng Ngholeg yr Iesu, Rhydychen a chymerodd gomisiwn fel capten gyda Chatrawd Gorllewin Swydd Efrog, effeithiwyd ar ei iechyd gan ei wasanaeth yn y rhyfel, a bu farw ym 1931.