In 1914, the AIF followed the procedures for
evacuating wounded combatants specified in British military manuals. These called for
the establishment of three distinct zones:
- The Collecting Zone
- The Distributing Zone
regiment was required to have sixteen stretcher bearers and two medical orderlies,
under the command of a medical officer. During the course of battle, it was the job
of stretcher bearers to carry or guide the wounded to the regimental aid post. From
here, the wounded were to be taken by ambulance waggons to a dressing station,
established at a safe distance behind the front line. Ideally, this was to be no more
than 20 kilometres away.
From the dressing station troops casualties were to be
conveyed a clearing hospital, which ideally was to be established beside a railway or
clear road, no more than 50 kilometres from the site of battle. The primary function
of the clearing hospital was, as its name suggested, to assess and evacuate the
wounded and sick as speedily as possible to a base hospital.
Gallipoli bloody conflict was waged in conditions that made front-line evacuation extremely difficult. Clearing hospitals
could not be located beyond the range Turkish artillery. After assessment, men were
removed by small craft to hospital ships offshore.
The military manuals of the time specified how, at the
base hospital, men were examined and given specialist treatment for wounds. Depending
on the extent of their recovery, they were then transfered to a convalesence home,
where they were to stay until fit to return to active service, or, if incapacitated,
returned home for discharge. Distance depended on the state of transportation between
clearing and base hospitals.
At Gallipoli, men received specialist treatment
on board one of several hospital ships, or in the sick bays of troop carriers. Yet of
the seriously wounded who were successfully evacuated from the peninsula, many were to
suffer unduly because of shortcomings in base hospital