The threat of war in 1939 gave rise to the proposal to set up a fund in Flegg to provide an ambulance to serve the Flegg villages. At a meeting at Maddieson’s holiday camp at Caister each village was asked to nominate someone to serve on a committee for raising funds. The aim was to raise £500 and by July 1939 that had been achieved and a Lomas Ambulance with a Novox Resuscitating machine was purchased. Somewhere was needed to keep the Ambulance and Martham already had a suitable place at Church’s Garage on the corner of Rollesby Road. Nursing support was also required and again Martham had two Red Cross groups. As a result of this readily available support, it was decided to house the ambulance at Martham. Frederick Taylor (born 1889), who lived in Black Street and was the Head Teacher, was appointed honorary Ambulance Officer. Later the Ambulance was kept in a large garage in Repps Road.
1947 saw the introduction of the National Health Service and the Ambulance service continued to run, free to all, by the Joint Ambulance Committee who received 1s 6d (7.5p) per mile from the County Council. The Committee retained its own identity and controlled its own expenses. After a successful first year of operation a new ambulance was purchased. The service began to fall off in the 1950’s following the introduction of a hospital car service.
Martham ambulance drivers included Fred Garman, Freddie Cooper and Jimmy (James) Ryan.
Alister Kirby can remember his grandad telling him of the time Fred Garman took him to Norwich hospital when he nearly lost his leg in a chain saw accident. They remained friends for the rest of their lives. Fred eventually became the transport manager at Kirby’s.
James Ryan was a Bombardier in the 80th Field Regiment in 1941 and married Olive, nee Cobb.
Joseph R Hall lived at No10 Council Houses, Hemsby Road, Martham in 1939 and was a motor mechanic for the local Red Cross ambulance at the time.
One of the nurses was Elsie, nee Fisher, the wife of Sidney the mobile van butcher. They were also both A.R.P. Wardens. Another nurse was Joan Gymer.
William Buck can remember his Mum washing the stretch covers from the Ambulance.