So what exactly is a field hospital? A field hospital is where all of the injured soldiers were brought to be treated. The wounded would typically be transported from the battlefields to the hospital by the field ambulance. The ambulance would provide relays of stretcher-bearers and men that knew first aid at each of the "bearer posts". Along the evacuation route from the trenches to dressing stations they could get treatment before going to the field hospitals.
The dressing station was basically the middleman in between the field hospital and the battlefield. These dressing stations would usually be bunkers to offer some protection from enemy fire and aerial attacks. Soldiers would be taken here to get cleaned up. If the injury wasn’t severe enough they would stay there, but if it was they would be brought to the hospital on foot, horseback, motor ambulance or railway.
The next three images are from the war diary of 76 Field Ambulance, a unit under the command of 25th division during the battle of Ypres.
Once soldiers finally arrived at the field hospital, their role was to treat all serious cases unfit for further travel first, care for and return slighter cases to battle, and evacuate the rest to base hospitals. The field hospitals were generally tented camps although sometimes they would be in huts. The hospitals were often grouped into clusters of two or three in a small area, usually a few miles behind enemy lines and close railways. Due to this they would occasionally be prone to enemy fire.
The hospitals generally could hold 1,000 casualties at any time, accepting about 15-300 in rotation, although at peak battles many of the hospitals would be overflowing. Staffing at the hospitals would usually consist of army medics, surgeons, nurses, aides and trained nurses.
A lot of the nurses in WW1 were women. The nurses were responsible for the day-to-day task of taking care of soldiers, often when they seemed like a lost cause. Due to this though there were a few issues of sexism in the hospitals such as some of the aides or medics wouldn’t listen to the women. The army solved this by giving nurses office status, which gave them a position of authority. The only downfall to this was that they still received a smaller pay than their male counterparts.
The conditions in these hospitals were brutal. Operating rooms were usually dirty and humid while the wards were packed full of injured soldiers and men. There were also many transmissible diseases throughout the hospitals, most famously the influenza epidemic. A lack of warm clothing, hard training and unsanitary toilets and washing facilities…