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World War 1 Ambulance Project

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The Purpose of the World War 1 Ambulance Project
On Wednesday, the 23rd of September, 2014, the Vancouver Barracks Military Association voted to raise and expend a sum of not more than $4,500 to construct a replica of a U.S. Army M1917 Ambulance for use as a working interpretive display, to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of World War 1.  This ambulance would be driven in parades, or set up in reenactment or museum type displays, with VBMA members acting as interpreters of the history of World War 1, both in the United States and Europe.

To learn more about the United States' participation in World War I, please follow this link:

World War 1 Ambulances

In World War I, ambulances were not the special vehicles the military uses today.  They were quite simple and quick to build, but could be shoddily built, which is why there are not many around today.  These ambulances, given the model number M1917, were Model-T automobiles, with the body removed; which was replaced by a simple box type driver's compartment and patient compartment in back. This was made out of wood and wood products

Here are two model kits showing the M1917 Ambulances


Here are some examples of different ambulances in Europe.




Here is our reproduction of a M1917 Ambulance



The Cost

Believe it or not, this is project did not cost tens of thousands of dollars.  There are many working Model-Ts still in existence, and we purchased one in 2015 for less than $3,000.  The VBMA spent a year raising funds, acquiring parts and lumber, and drawing plans for the ambulance.   Between 2015 and 2017, we completed work on the ambulance. In all, it took nearly $3,000 more in cash to purchase necessary parts, while several thousand dollars worth of other parts were donated, or sold to us at a discount.  In addition to parts, and donated work space, volunteers donated several hundred hours of their time to completing the ambulance. 

Three VBMA members, Jack Giesen, Jason Sample, and Tim Shotwell are military vehicle collectors and restorers.  Working with many other volunteer, they oversaw the repairs on the Model-T engine and chassis, and the construction of the ambulance body.  The VBMA officially unveiled the ambulance over Memorial Day week in 2017.  By Veteran's Day, the ambulance took part in Veterans Day commemorations in Vancouver, Washington.


Name of Person

Or Organization

Amount or Item Donated

The Historic Trust

Cash for ambulance parts

Community Military Appreciation Committee

Cash for replica World War I Uniforms

Mr. Roy Billings

Cash for ambulance parts

Lucas Classic Tires

Discounted new tires, at their cost

Lutz Hardware

Discounted parts, at their cost

Mr. Ron Fryer

Specialty seat cushion

Mr. Jim Gordon

Four rebuilt coil boxes, 2 running boards

John Mull

2 World War I stretchers

Mr. Keith Townsend

Original Hood Latches

Jeff Allen White

2 World War I stretchers, 2 bound volumes of Stars and Stripes from World War I era


Mechanical Expertise

Mr. Jack Giesen         

Reverse Engineered the Ambulance, drew plans, rebuilt motor, transmission, and other parts.

Mr. Jason Sample                   


Troubleshooting ambulance engine work, donated 1 World War I stretcher

Mr. Ron Sample

Donated labor and expertise during construction

Mr. Tim Shotwell.

Donated the use of his shop for vehicle storage and work.  Major construction of ambulance body, wheel spokes, and many other parts.  He donated too many other items to mention.

For technical or financial information and donations, you can contact Jeff Davis at  
To donate immediately, follow this link to the VBMA’s paypal donation site. 

 2017 Events

Event Name



Vancouver Barracks Military History Talk

Vancouver Barracks, WA

3 May 2017

Memorial Day Observance and Soldiers Bivouac

Vancouver Barracks, WA

29 May 2017

Heroes Nights

Costco, Camas, WA 

24 Jun 2017

Collector’s West Gun and Knife Show

Expos Center, Portland, OR

29 July 2917

Camp Lewis Centennial

Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA

18 August 2017

Military Vehicle Show

Bomber Restaurant, Milwaukie, OR

9 Sept 2017

NPS Campfires and Candlelight Event

Fort Vancouver, WA 

9 Sep 2017

Wheels and Wings Cruise In

Camas, WA 

16 Sep 2017

Veterans Appreciation Night

Oxford Suites, Portland, OR

9 Nov 2017

Veteran’s Day Parade

Vancouver, WA

11 Nov 2017