World War I Field Hospitals provided a vital service in caring for those wounded in battle. Often field hospitals were set up near the front lines, or when available, large buildings, such as churches, were used as make-shift hospitals. While the battle was waged around them, doctors and nurses cared for the wounded and dying.
This postcard from World War I depicts an ambulance crew preparing to move an injured soldier to one of the field hospital tents pictured in the background.
The description of a field hospital, posted on the back of the card, reads as follows:
This type of field hospital has been doing splendid work in the great European conflict. It brings immediate surgical attention to the men who are too badly wounded to permit of their being moved to the base hospitals and first aid to many others which relieves their suffering and puts them in shape to stand the rough shaking up they get in the crowded ambulances on their way to the rear. Note the sturdy construction throughout and the gigantic red cross on its side which secures for it immunity from attack.
Medical neutrality was an agreement during war that medical personnel were granted immunity from attack. Michael L. Gross wrote an article entitled, “From Medical Neutrality to Medical Immunity,” which appeared in the American Medical Association Journal of Ethics (October 2007), regarding the terms “immunity” and “impartiality” as it relates to the medical profession in times of war. Civilian medical workers, during World War I, were considered “impartial.” Meaning that they were expected to treated the wounded and care for the dying regardless of which side the soldier was on.
Immunity allowed doctors, nurses, and even nuns, a certain amount of protection while serving near the front lines at various field hospitals. Of course, we must acknowledge that there were, at times, casualties regardless of any perceived agreements. Therefore, we honor and remember all the brave men and women who took on the challenges of war while serving in a civilian capacity.
World War I Field Hospitals News Reel Footage
This YouTube video posted by Footage Farm, provides a 10 minute window into the work of a field hospital during World War I.
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- Postcard: Field Hospital, US Army; from the collection of Veteran Voices.
- Michael L. Gross, PhD. “From Medical Neutrality to Medical Immunity,” AMA Journal of Ethics, October 2007. Virtual Mentor. 2007;9(10):718-721. doi: 10.1001/virtualmentor.2007.9.10.mhst1-0710.
- “WWI Field Hospitals 221694.” YouTube, uploaded by Footage Farm 11 June 2013, www.youtube.com/watch?v=GS6ufYuRcWo