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Journeys on a jigger

Stretcher bearers evacuate a wounded soldier from the front line on a stretcher case on a ‘jigger’. The stretcher case is wheeled into the courtyard of the ADS (Advanced Dressing Station). Medics admit the soldier where his condition will be assessed and wounds dressed. More serious cases are evacuated by motor ambulance to the Main Dressing Station, in this case the No.3 Field Ambulance at Pont D’Achelles. Just as the ambulance drives off an orderly runs out and throws a soldier’s pack on board. 

Filmed in June 2017, in Northern France when the New Zealand Division was on the front line forward of Ploegsteert Wood. It was a period of heavy activity, the buildings were under constant shellfire and are heavily sandbagged.

Year:1917

LocationMDS 3 Field Ambulance Pont D'Achelles

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Journeys on a jigger

Stretcher bearers evacuate a wounded soldier from the front line on a stretcher case on a ‘jigger’. The stretcher case is wheeled into the courtyard of the ADS (Advanced Dressing Station). Medics admit the soldier where his condition will be assessed and wounds dressed. More serious cases are evacuated by motor ambulance to the Main Dressing Station, in this case the No.3 Field Ambulance at Pont D’Achelles. Just as the ambulance drives off an orderly runs out and throws a soldier’s pack on board. 

Filmed in June 2017, in Northern France when the New Zealand Division was on the front line forward of Ploegsteert Wood. It was a period of heavy activity, the buildings were under constant shellfire and are heavily sandbagged.


Year: 1917

Length: 1:52

Production Company: NZ Official Photographer, Captain H A Sanders. Pathe Freres

Credits: Photography: H.A. Sanders

Source: Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Catalogue Reference: Work of the New Zealand Medical Corps


Location: MDS 3 Field Ambulance Pont D'Achelles

Tags: Ambulances, Dressing Stations

Subject: World War 1914-1916, New Zealand, Ambulances, Advanced Dressing Station ADS


New Zealand Division was in the line south of the River Douve with the front line forward of Ploegsteert Wood.  It was a period of heavy activity and the viewer needs to remind themselves that at the time the film was taken the ambulances handled some 800 wounded men in the fortnight, and 106 were also killed.

'During the period from 15 to 30 June our casualties were reported to be: 106 killed; 801 wounded.  There was an increasing casualty list due to gas poisoning and there were clear signs of nervous exhaustion in many of the sick ' (AD Carbery, The New Zealand Medical Services in the Great War, Whitcombe and Tombs, p 318)

The Division had one Field Ambulance for each infantry brigade and these were coordinated by the ADMS (Assistant Director of Medical Service) to provide the divisional medical plan for the evacuations of casualties and the treatment of sick in the Divisional area.

In June 1917 wounded were evacuated from the front line by stretcher bearers carrying the wounded to the trench tramways that ran through the woods where they were taken to the RAP (Regimental Aid Post).  This is where the casualty was checked by the RMO (Regimental Medical Officer) and the wound stabilised and the casualty evacuated as quickly as possible, by wheeled stretcher or 'jigger' as the New Zealanders called them or by stretcher party, or trench tramway to the ADS (Advanced Dressing Station) where wounds were checked, dressed and serious cases quickly evacuated by Motor Ambulance to the MDS (Main Dressing Station).  In this case 3 Field Ambulance, where cases were admitted and checked.  At the MDS in the reception area stretcher cases were prepared for the surgeons' inspection. 'A clerk entered the particulars of each case on a buff slip (envelope) and prepared the field medical card for the medical officers notes.  Next a special orderly in charge of the serum, administered the anti-tetanic injection, and lastly the case was examined by the surgeon.  Where there was free haemorrhage on considerable shock, the case was immediately transferred to the operating room, but in the general run of cases the surgeon once satisfied... gave necessary instructions to the nursing orderly, and dictated to the clerk the description of the injury to be entered on the field card'. (AD Carbery p 310)

An important film showing the system of casualty evacuation and treatment in the New Zealand Division on the Western Front 1916-1918. It may be that this film, though innocuous by today's standards, was not released by the WOCC because it was too realistic and did not get to NZ audiences until after the war.