Sunday, 19 April 2015

Red Cross Cars for the Front

A Red Cross Train, France (H. Septimus Power)
(Imperial War Museum, available under IWM Non Commercial Licence)

Monday 19th April 1915: Mr. Arthur Brown, Mr. C. R. Clay and Mr Rupert Plummer left Luton today to drive three new Red Cross cars to the battlefield. The cars will be used to convey wounded soldiers to hospital trains from as near to the firing line as it is possible for them to reach. The number of Red Cross vehicles in use in France now amounts to 400 cars, 78 touring cars, 32 motor lorries, 21 motorcycles, 8 travelling kitchens and 5 travelling workshops. There are around 560 drivers, with 430 being paid and the others volunteers. The military authorities supply the Red Cross with petrol and tyre, and provide billeting for the men.

The cars taken out by our Luton men are 20 h.p. Colonial type Napiers with a specially high clearance; each car is able to carry the driver and six passengers. Including equipment and spares the outlay amounts to £700 per car. The car driven by Arthur Brown is the gift of his family, Mr. Clay bought his own car, and the car driven by Rupert Plummer was purchased by his father, Mr. Matthew Plummer. The cars remain their own property, but it is unlikely there will be much left of them to bring back. Cars in the fighting area have a short life as they are constantly driven over extensively damaged roads and within the fire zone. The three drivers are all giving their services voluntarily, and will be expected to remain with the Red Cross for at least six months. Mr. Brown volunteered for this work early in the war, and as an expert motorist has already been providing the military authorities with valuable service.

It is expected that the drivers’ work in France will be directed by the officers of the Royal Army Medical Corps. The hoods fitted to the cars enable them to be closed right in, and when necessary they will have to live and sleep in their cars. They will form part of 25 vehicle convoys which typically have three or four cars of this type for patients who are able to sit up, with the rest of the convoy made up of stretcher ambulances. 

Source: Luton News, April 22nd 1915

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