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Gallipoli Evacuation of the Wounded

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 Evacuating Zone
  • The Distributing Zone

Collecting Zone:
Each 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.

Evacuating Zone:
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.

However, at 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.

Distributing Zone:
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 facilities.

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AIF : Voyage from Australia Training in Egypt Gallipoli Middle East Campaigns Vivid Memories