British Stretcher Bearers

Wounded soldier

Photograph of a wounded soldier being delivered to a British field hospital by stretcher bearers. I hope that this photo was staged and that they did not stop to pose for this picture with an actual wounded man.

Medical treatment was primitive by today's standards, and antibiotics had not yet been invented. However the British did make a real effort to provide adequate care. Hospital ships were stationed offshore to provide a mobile hospital base, and field hospitals were organized along the most modern lines of the time. X-rays to locate shrapnel in the body started to be used during the Boer war.

The well coiffed stretcher bearers with their bombastic hats look particularly ridiculous. Did they stop from time to time to make sure they were perfectly attired, while the wounded bled to death on the battlefield? But that was the weirdness of the Boer war. It was a modern war, with modern weapons, fought by men from the century before - the last hurrah of the Victorian Empire.