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Red Cross Barges

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Red Cross Barges

Travelling with the Red Cross ambulance flotillas through Montereau in central northern France.

Non-Fiction 1915 1 mins

Overview

Montereau, where the River Yonne and the Seine meet, bears witness to a Red Cross Ambulance Flotilla in these short scenes from WWI. Although far from speedy, the flotillas provided a smooth evacuation for the most injured of allied soldiers - a far less traumatic route than by the shell-torn roads of northern France.

WWI ambulance flotillas consisted of six barges - one for personnel, one for stores and four for patients. They were equipped with 30 beds, a kitchen, a dispensary, operating facilities and a generator for electric light. The hospital barges were converted from a range of general use barges such as coal or cargo. Access hatches were cut into the roof and hand operated lifts were installed so that stretchers could be lowered below. They retrieved the most seriously injured and conveyed them to awaiting hospital trains within allied territories.