A stretcher-bearer is a person who carries a stretcher along with another person at its other end, particularly at a time of war or during an emergency involving a serious accident or disaster where it is necessary to move injured people from one place to another. In the case of military personnel, for example, stretcher-bearers remove the wounded and dead from a battlefield even when under heavy enemy fire. During the First World War many wounded troops had to wait where they fell until the stretcher-bearers arrived and, if successful, were able to find them under fire. Many men died before the stretcher-bearers (a close modern equivalent would be a Combat Medic) could retrieve them from the battlefield and many more were never found. If there was a temporary cessation of hostilities, stretcher-bearers would go out into No Man's Land and attempt to locate any survivors. A famous stretcher-bearer and ambulance driver during the First World War was the young Ernest Hemingway.
This common noun appears between 1875 and 1880. It is largely used before and during the First World War.
References / notes
- Stretcher bearer. Wikipedia: The free encyclopedia. Accessed 18 April, 2017.
Glossary of terms and customs
This page forms part of our glossary of words and phrases of the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom of Great Britain during the Great War, which also includes: technicalities, trench slang, expressions in everyday use, nicknames, sobriquets, the titles and origins of British and Commonwealth Regiments, and warfare in general. Please feel free to help expand and improve this content.
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