Stretcher Drill (Illustrated)

A few pages for your scrutiny from a pre-Great War publication entitled ‘Stretcher Drill (Illustrated)’.

I have actually owned this book for many, many years now, and stumbled upon it the other day in a dark recess of the post-flood library whilst, of course, searching for something completely different.

First published in 1904, and therefore presumably including lessons learnt during the Boer War, this little pocket-book was aimed at the men of the auxiliary forces; a Volunteer Force, a part-time citizen army of rifle, artillery and engineer corps, had been first formed in 1859, morphing into the Territorials in 1908.  A further look at the title page shows that this particular copy appears to have been given personally by the author to a Private Cooper, No. 3 Home Counties Field Ambulance, in April 1908, and that beneath the pencilled R.A.M.C. are the initials T.F., for Territorial Force, which at the time would have just come into being.

The regular army published pocket-book instruction manuals covering every possible aspect of army life.  The auxiliaries, it seems, did not, as this contemporary review (above) of the Major’s book, that I found on the interweb just the other day, relates.

As the title suggests, the book contains all you needed to know about stretcher drill, and much more besides.  So here we have stretcher lifting…

…and loading.

Hand-seat drill (above & below),…

…and wagon drill.

Loading and unloading wagons,…

…railway wagon drill,…

…and even how to set up a Dressing Station.

Here we have the contents of the Surgical Haversack, with some of the contents listed below the illustration.  This haversack contained the tools of the trade, quite literally, the contents (the list takes up much of the previous page) ranging from ‘Pins, common, 40’ and ‘Pins, safety, 6’, to bandages, knives, forceps, hypodermics and ‘Probe and director, plated, 1’.  The mind boggles.  Page 71, opposite the illustration, lists the contents of the Medical Companion (below),…

…again the list continuing below the illustration.  As you can see, this bag contained mainly pills and potions and although the dimensions of both were pretty similar when packed, the Medical Companion, at about 13lbs, weighed nearly twice the Surgical Haversack (take my word for it).

And finally,…

…your very own soldier and stretcher to practice with.  I wonder how many copies of the book that survive still contain this little gem.  Not too many, I would warrant.  And with still attached stretcher handles.  There’s also a single loose page of corrections that my copy still includes, which amazes me, after well over a hundred years now.  Anyway, Stretcher Drill Illustrated runs to a little over 100 pages; the 1911 edition of Royal Army Medical Corps Training, the successor to the Manual of the Royal Army Medical Corp (sic), mentioned in the review of the book earlier, is a 450 plus page pocket-tome.  And I don’t suppose you would be that surprised to hear that I happen to have a 1911 edition (certainly still in use until at least 1915) from which I shall show you some more magnificent illustrations in due course.

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2 Responses to Stretcher Drill (Illustrated)

  1. Sid from Down Under says:

    Keep ’em coming please – Manuals, pocket, various.

    Another fascination of “War, support, behind the scenes” that is so necessary but does not grab the headlines. The work that went into producing this one pocket book in itself is probably not sufficiently appreciated by we lucky ones over 100 years later. No computers or word processors back then.

    The depth of your knowledge, research and “accidental” finds is astounding MJS and your descriptions very informative and much appreciated

    • Magicfingers says:

      Yeah Sid, I find them absolutely fascinating too. As you say, the work that went into these pocket-books must have been a little industry in itself, totally forgotten by history now, really. Believe it or not the R.A.M.C. manual I own has nineteen, I repeat, nineteen pages listing other military books published by the War Office that the discerning soldier might consider purchasing! I also have various pocket-pamphlets, maybe forty pages or so, that were basically updates to the pocket-books, also in the same style. I will show you one, or parts of one, very soon.

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