Hazards faced by stretcher-bearers


The second member of the 1/1st Eastern Mounted Brigade Field Ambulance, R.A.M.C., to find his way into the casualty list in Gallipoli is Pte A. Robinson, son of Mrs Wellard, of 54 Langley Road, Luton.

Pte A. RobinsonMrs Wellard has received an official notification that her son is wounded, but the first details of how it happened were contained in a letter from Cpl E. Grice, a member of our staff who is serving in the unit. Pte Robinson (pictured) was wounded by shrapnel while assisting in conveying another wounded man from the advanced dressing station to the beach.

Describing the incident, Cpl Grice writes: "We have been very busy of late fixing up an advanced dressing station on a hillside as near the firing line as possible. We are having to dig right into the hillside in order to protect the tents from stray shells.

"People have no idea what difficulties and dangers have to be overcome in evacuating wounded. The hilly nature of the country does away with the idea of mechanical transport, and every case has to be carried to other hospitals on the beach on stretchers. My own personal experience yesterday will give you some idea of what that is like.

"We started off down the gully with the man. The Turks believe this gully is used a lot and shell it like blazes every day. We covered half the distance all right and then reached the danger zone. A couple of high explosives burst very close, and after we had covered a few hundred yards more the familiar hiss warned us that another was approaching. We had barely time to get cover by the side of the gully for the patient and ourselves when it burst only a few yards in front of us.

"Just as we were about to start, another came and this time it exploded on our wide of the gully. The shock of the bursting shell gave us a peculiar feeling that we had been blown up to goodness knows where. The side of the gully had been blown in, and the stretcher and ourselves were half covered with lumps of clay and brushwood.

"We hurried forward pretty quickly after that, but unfortunately a much more serious incident occurred. we were tramping along when still another came, and this happened to be a shrapnel affair. We got under and olive tree and, as bad luck would have it, the shell burst in it. Shrapnel bullets whizzes all round and, very unhappily, one penetrated right through the shoulder of Pte Robinson. We hastily got into better cover, dressed his wound as best we could, and brought him along to the hospital. We were shelled all the way back, but reached camp safely."

Pte Robinson, who formerly worked for Messrs Sanders and Brightman, Upper George Street, has now written home to inform his mother that his wound is not serious.

He is in hospital at Cairo and writes: "I tried to stop a shrapnel bullet but it was too hot and went through my right shoulder, but I am pleased to say it is a nice clean wound and I don't suppose it will be long before it is healed."

Pte Robinson said he went down to a clearing hospital, but as there was no hospital ship in he lay there until next day. It was just like heaven when he got on a ship, where he was treated well, and also on the train to Cairo.

Cpl F. F. Gregory, son of Mr Harry Gregory, of Leagrave Road, Luton, and who is a member of the same unit as Pte Robinson but attached to the Norfolk Yeomanry, was in the same hospital as Pte Robinson.

[The Luton News: Thursday, November 18th, 1915]