Transporting the patient – Human means of transport – part 1

The real challenge for the Canadian Army Medical Corps during WW1 was to get the wounded as fast as possible to the nearest medical unit where the wounded soldier received the appropriate medical treatment. Once stabilized, the soldier was then moved to another medical unit further down the line or sent back to the front. To do that different methods of transportation were used.

This is post 1 of two post on the topic of the way wounded soldiers were moved from the battlefield to the appropriate medical station. Post 2  look at the mechanical means of transport and and can be read by clicking here.

When a soldier was wounded, the first way they used to transport him to the medical unit was a party of men carrying him on a stretcher. This is a picture of a typical stretcher bearers party in the field (probably moving from the Advance Dressing Station to the Field Ambulance)

click on the image to enlarge

Sometine when the weather conditions worsen, they needed more men to complete the same task, like in Passchendaele where knee-deep mud conditions was a daily reality. With limited resources, it meant that the waiting time to get to the nearest Field Ambulance was longer.

click on the image to enlarge

At the hospital where the ground conditions were much better and the distance to transport the patient much shorter, they would used a smaller party to carry the person . Picture of a stretcher bearer party (two men) at a hospital far the front line

click on the image to enlarge

Sometime they had to improvise a stretcher because the number of casualties outnumbered the available resources.

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Picture (below) of a German stretcher bearer squad transporting a Canadian soldier with a Canadian soldier escorting them. The Geneva Convention allowed the use of prisonners of war for transportation of wounded soldiers.

click on the image to enlarge

If the wounded soldier was still able to walk, then they were asked to go to the medical by foot. They were called the “walking wounded”

click on the image to enlarge

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