East End Angels – London Auxiliary Ambulance Service

The London Auxiliary Ambulance Service (LAAS) ran from 1939-1945 and had many stations situated throughout the London area. Each station was responsible for a certain area, although in busy times, crew members could be sent to help at incidents out of their area.

The crew members were a mixture of paid and voluntary workers from a broad selection of society, from debutantes to house maids and taxi drivers. People worked with others that they might not have mixed with pre-war making an interesting blend at the stations.

Unlike the other Civil Defence services, such as the Auxiliary Fire Service, the LAAS crew members weren’t provided with a uniform until 1942.

They drove a mish-mash of vehicles, some proper ambulances, others converted from saloon cars with a box van at the back. Some stations even had converted Rolls Royce ambulances, the luxury cars having been donated to the service.

Angela Raby’s excellent book ‘The Forgotten Service’ recounts her aunt’s work at Station 39, which was situated in the heart of London at Weymouth Mews a short way from the Portland Place and the BBC. It provided me with so many details of the day to day life and work of ambulance crews and how the stations were run.

forgotten service