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maltese carts


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#1 n cherry

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 01:14 PM

In the operational orders for the 1/13th Londons for their attack at Aubers Ridge on 7th May 1915 is the reference to Maltese Carts.....the actual wording is Maltese Carts will accompany machine guns to Croix Blanche and will similarly dump their loads and return to transport lines.

Has anyone any details on a Maltese Cart?

#2 squirrel

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 01:40 PM

IIRC it is a two wheeled cart with a shaft each side and pulled by one horse.

Have seen it described as being the transport for the Medical Officer in some battalions.

I may be completely wrong of course.

#3 centurion

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 05:25 PM

Maltese carts were first introduced to the British Army in the 1860s. They were lightweight 2 wheel with gear for haulage by the following, pony, ass, mule, 2 men. Track was typically 5ft 2 inches and wheels were 4 ft 2 in diameter. Different combinations of sides bars and solid) can be seen on different version - the last was the Mk V of 1893. Typically in ww1 the Mk IV and V would be encountered. Weight unladen was of the order of 5cwt 2 qrt 9lbs (no I'm not going to convert to metric). On later versions the shafts were removable. Their main use was for either boxed medical supplies or entrenching tools but with tail boards fitted were also used for forges and GP. With sold sides fitted they could carry building materials etc.

#4 Wayne Saillard

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Posted 07 February 2008 - 01:05 AM

From the OFFICIAL HISTORY OF THE AUSTRALIAN ARMY MEDICAL SERVICES 1914-1918 : Volume I, page 11 :

The regimental medical officer was again the first link in the chain connecting the front line with the base. He was provided with two orderlies and sixteen stretcher-bearers (combatants), who, when an action commenced, would deposit their arms in the "Maltese cart" (which carried the field medical and surgical panniers, "medical companion", surgical haversack, and water-bottle, which comprised the equipment), and would assume the brassard prescribed by the Geneva Convention.

In the Glossary, page 832, a Maltese cart is given as :

A small two-wheeled cart, which formed part of the medical equipment of a battalion.

A photograph also appears on Plate 12 - opposite page 54. Unfortunately, the print available in the online version of the Australian Official History is rather poor. However, here is the photo from the AWM collection - reference H13984 :

Hope this helps

Regards

Wayne

#5 Wayne Saillard

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Posted 07 February 2008 - 07:14 AM

Here is a recent photo of a Maltese cart being used for the purpose it was originally designed for.

Regards

Wayne



#6 n cherry

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Posted 07 February 2008 - 08:16 AM

I'm obliged - so quite big and I suppose couild only be really effectively used in rear (ish) areas....

I wouldn't want to be moving across open gorund in view of the Germans in one of those......

#7 centurion

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Posted 07 February 2008 - 02:11 PM

Maltese carts in British Army service were normally led and not ridden on. They could be man pulled as I indicated in my earlier posting. As such they might be used to bring up supplies to consolidate ground taken. If approaching the front over open ground this would usually be done at night.

I think the vehicle in the AWM photo might be the slightly larger forage cart Mk I which filled many of the same roles as the Maltese cart but was usually horse drawn rather than donkey, mule or ass.

#8 Wayne Saillard

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Posted 08 February 2008 - 03:40 AM

Please excuse me for not including the caption that goes with the AWM photo - which had been used in the volume of the Offical History referred to in post #4.


AWM CAPTION
ID Number: H13984
Physical description: Black & white
Summary: Mena Camp, Egypt. March 1915. An AIF Regimental Medical Detachment on parade with a horse drawn cart known as a Maltese Cart. A part of the markings on the cart read Aust Inf and below that can be seen 3 Inf Bde. (Donor Colonel A.G. Butler)


OFFICIAL HISTORY OF THE AUSTRALIAN ARMY MEDICAL SERVICES 1914-1918 (Volume I) CAPTION
Plate 12
A REGIMENTAL MEDICAL DETACHMENT WITH MALTESE CART ON PARADE AT MENA CAMP, MARCH 1915


Note that the author of both the volume and donor of the photo are the one and the same person - Colonel Arthur Graham BUTLER, DSO, of the A.A.M.C. Given his rank and branch of the service, one would hope he knew what he was talking about. However, being human, it is also possible that he might have committed an error.

I will leave this to the experts to decide.

Regards

Wayne

#9 centurion

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Posted 08 February 2008 - 11:13 AM

Looking at photos and drawings the forage cart Mk I looks just like a slightly larger version of the Maltese (this facilitating drawing by horse). Both are 19th Century vehicles and appear to have been replaced from 1900 onwards by the sprung cart Mk I and II.(Which as the name suggests had springs on a metal frame but were otherwise much the same) All were used for pretty much the same duties and were probably effectively interchangeable. I would surmise that Maltese cart was a generic description for this whole class of vehicle but for the purpose of stock keeping, issuing spares etc the official designations of Maltese, Forage and Sprung were used on official documents.