A technically advanced organisation such as K.N.I.L.
was of course quick in acquiring mechanised
ambulances. This picture (from Heshusius/Zwitzer)
shows a scene in Atjeh/Aceh during or just after WW1.
Troops are practising with the first motorized
ambulance. Note the truck is equipped with air tyres
and not the tough massive tyres. Nevertheless, by no
means a comfortable ride!
The next picture is dated around 1930.
A "wounded" K.N.I.L. trooper is
transported by the MIlitair
Geneeskundige Dienst (Army Medical
Service) in a modified light car. The
intention was to demonstrate this
invention during the 1931 World Expo
in Paris in 1931 (picture from Weerzien
met Indie, part 12).
The early 1930s saw the advent of
many ambulances with K.N.I.L., mostly
based on civilian Chevrolets, K.N.I.L.'s
favorite truck brand (and readily
available in the Netherlands East
Indies). This is a rare picture of a
hardtop ambulance in Bandung
(picture from Ons Leger, Indies Special
The same source shows this
soft-top vehicle while a stretcher
("brancardtoestel") is being loaded.
Note tent like canvas top that is
shorter than the truck body.
This picture shows a
similar truck without the
canvas top, giving a good
view of the stretcher
structure. These trucks
built in the early 1930's.
Capacity was four
wounded on stretchers
(picture from the same
We do not have information on the
ambulances in service during
WW2 and the Japanese invasion.
But this 1940 picture (from Tanda
Mata KNIL) shows a Army
ambulance based on a 1939 or
1940 model Chevrolet standard
truck with the same canvas topped
structure as above.
We assume these types were still
in service by 1942.
BATAVIA. 1942-02-04. CASUALTIES FROM
THE DUTCH MERCHANT VESSEL NORAH
MOLLER, BOMBED BY THE JAPANESE IN
THE JAVA SEA, ARE LANDED FROM HMAS
HOBART ONTO THE WHARF WHERE RED
CROSS VEHICLES AND PERSONNEL AWAIT
THEM. (NAVAL HISTORICAL COLLECTION).
Thus goes the caption at the AW site. Note the
Chevrolet ambulances without doors waiting on
A close-up of
the same sorry
The 1940 Dutch East Indies
Special of the Dutch Army
magazine Ons Leger shows
K.N.I.L. was ready for anything.
Here's a Mobile Surgical Unit
("Operatie-auto"), part of a
plaatsafdeling" (motorised main
The surgical room it
self was fitted in a
trailer plus tent.
Here's an interior
view of the
In case of a gas attack the
Dienst could call in these
mobile shower units to
treat those affected by
gas (picture: Ons Leger).
A column of Chevrolet light
ambulances in 1941. These cars
were intended for the Stad- en
Landwachten or Urban and Rural
Territorial Units. These are being
delivered by Women Auxiliary
Drivers in Batavia
This indiscrete picture shows the
rear of the Chevrolet truck with a
similar canvas topped structure
and interior as with the Army's
The trucks were civilian 1941
model Chevrolet light trucks,
assembled at the General Motors
plant in Batavia's port (picture
Fifty of these ambulances
were purchased with money
collected by 21.000 clients of
the Postspaarbank. A further
60 ambulance trailers were
Total sum was 150.000
Such a trailer can be seen here during a demonstration to the public. As stated 60 were
purchased, delivered by the Kerner company of Bandung. These trailers were delivered to the
Territorials in rural ares, where they were of better use than trucks. These traliers had the
same capacity as the Chevrolet trucks and could simply be towed by a passenger car (Picture
from Geeft Acht Magazine, 13 december 1941).
Besides K.N.I.L. and the Territorials
there was also the L.B.D.
dienst or Air raid Protection Service)
that operated ambulances. Here a
Stahlhelm equipped, mostly ethnically
Chinese Batavia L.B.D. ambulance
crew is practising loading "real"
wounded (Picture from Batavia, Beeld
van een stad).
In spite of all these efforts to acquire enough ambulances
further emergency measures were needed. Indisch Militair
Tijdschrift in late 1941 published an article explaining how to
convert light trucks into ambulances in the more remote areas
of the colony. According to the article the best car to use was
the Ford "tool car" or pickup. This vehicle was widely available,
even on outlying islands. The example of Tarakan (Borneo) was
extensively illustrated: There the B.P.M. oil company (a
forerunner of Shell) had converted just such a Ford toolcar.
The Fords were painted dark green and could carry a load of
300 kilo's. Wheelbase was 285cm.
Three stretchers could be installed on top of the sides of the
rear body of the truck, while a medic or helper could be
transported sitting on a bicycle seat (see first picture) that was
fitted outside the rear of the vehicle.
His feet could rest on the rear bumper.
A white canvas cover with a red cross could be fitted over the
tool car body.