Wednesday, 28 March 2012
British Stretcher Bearers and Casualties of War
One of the things I’ve been working on during the last couple of weeks are a couple of sets of stretcher bearers from 1st Corps Miniatures. These are very characterful sculpts and fit together very easily with no flash. The casualty is glued to a stretcher, and the stretcher fits neatly onto the two stretcher bearers. Each set is a very reasonable £4.00 (plus P&P). The figures look excellent alongside Great War Miniatures’ British infantry and figures from the Great War ranges of Gripping Beast and Musketeer Miniatures. However, I also think that you would have no trouble fielding them along Renegade Miniatures’ Great War ranges also.
I was especially pleased that one of the stretcher bearers is wearing trench waders, which seem to be very authentically sculpted. The very evocative photograph of trench waders being worn by a medical team “somewhere in France” is featured on the excellent Great War Photos blog by Paul Reed.
Regimental Stretcher Bearers would have had the task of recovering soldiers from the battlefield and taking them back to the Regimental Aid Post for medical assistance, so I made sure that the stretcher bearers were equipped and uniformed to fit alongside my combatant figures. As regards equipment, the stretcher bearers seemed to have carried very little in action except a water bottle, gas mask, and shrapnel helmet. No doubt the weight of the casualty was quite enough. As Harold Chaplin pointed out in a letter to Alice Chaplin in May 1915: "It took six of us to carry one man. You have no idea of the physical fatigue entailed in carrying a twelve stone man a thousand yards across muddy fields."
As for numbers, according to the "British Army Handbook 1914-1918" by Andrew Rawson, "At the start of the Great War a Battalion's RAMC Officer ran the Regimental aid post, aided by two orderlies and 16 stretcher bearers. In 1915 they were doubled to 32.....". Not every man carrying a stretcher would be medically trained – some would just have been detailed to collect the wounded, and prisoners of war would often be recruited in this activity as well.
I also wanted to try and make up some additional casualty bases for my Great War British forces. These use Curt’s fantastic method of building a small impression to place a micro-dice into. I did seven, although in all honesty I could happily have done more.
The dice holders are made out of scraps of offcut Styrofoam, cut according to th size of the micro-dice you want to use.
The larger bases accommodate the British Casualties set from Great War Miniatures, whereas the smaller bases features some converted “generic casualties” from Steve (Silent Invader) on the splendid Lead Adventure Forum.
And here’s a photo of the new casualty bases with some of the older ones which I made a year or so ago, complete with barbed wire …
I’m still figuring out how best to use the stretcher bearers in a game, and need to try out some additional rules for them at my local club to fit into the "Through the Mud and the Blood" rules from TooFatLardies. However, the bravery and determination of these soldiers, and other non-combatants in that role (such as conscientious objectors and Quakers), is something I would very much like to represent in our games.