Military Vehicles Magazine declared last year (2018) to be the “Year of the Ambulance. So, it seems fitting to salute the many various types of jeep ambulances manufactured by Willys Overland and Kaiser Jeep that spanned the decades between WWII and the Vietnam War.
Although not originally designed or intended for use as an ambulance, the jeep’s small size, low profile, and capabilities in rough terrain made it an ideal vehicle for evacuating wounded soldiers from front-line combat areas. There were considerably more jeeps available than Dodge and International ambulances.
At first, jeeps were simply used “as-is” to evacuate wounded personnel with stretchers placed over the vehicles’ rear sections and hoods and secured as well as possible. Ambulatory patients sat wherever they could.
As WWII progressed on both the European and Pacific fronts, field modifications made for more comfortable placement and security of stretchers. On the Pacific front, the jeep’s capabilities as an ambulance were quickly recognized by the U.S. Marine Corps. The Marines issued a contract to the General Motors-Holden factory in Melbourne, Australia, to modify jeeps for ambulance use. Known today as “Holden Jeeps,” they were the first dedicated ambulance jeeps to be issued in large numbers.
Except for a few prototypes and foreign-built vehicles, the jeeps presented here comprise most of the known examples of ambulance jeeps to have served US forces.