As the U.S. Marines began their painful trek across the Pacific, the need for a small, agile ambulance became apparent. The standard USMC ambulance of the day, the 1/2-ton International Harvester M-1-4, was too big, too slow and too scarce to support the upcoming leap-frog invasion strategy.
The Marines turned to General Motors-Holden in Australia for a solution based on the Jeep. Up until 1931, the firm had been independent and was known as “Holden’s Motor Body Builders” and supplied bodies for chassis of most Australian manufacturers. It was not until after WWII that Holden began producing complete automobiles.
It was this body building experience—and their presence in the theater of operation—that made the firm uniquely suited to perform these ambulance conversions. This work was carried out at Holden’s massive facility at Fishermen’s Bend, Melbourne, the same plant that produced a unique variant of the airborne CCKW. Though more properly termed a “battlefield ambulance,” the vehicles are universally known to enthusiasts as “Holden Jeeps.”