Florence Nightingale’s carriage
On her second visit to the Crimea in March 1856, the exertion of travelling to the scattered field hospitals took its toll on Florence Nightingale’s delicate health and, to spare her riding, she was given a mule cart.
This, however, overturned one night on the rough tracks and so Colonel William McMurdo of the Land Transport Corps presented her instead with this, her Crimean carriage, which also served as an ambulance. The original carriage is in the Collections of the Florence Nightingale Museum Trust.
Model of carriage used by Florence Nightingale during the Crimean War, c1856
As well as horses, the British in the Crimea used camels for pulling carts and wagons. In this lithograph by Eugene Guerard, a group of inebriated British and French soldiers ride in a cart pulled by two camels. The four lines of French verse below make a play on the word ‘chameaux’ which can mean ‘camels’ or a derogatory term for women.
Camels in the Crimea, 1855
Horses performed many vital roles during the First World War. One of the most important was pulling ambulances to quickly transport injured soldiers from casualty clearing stations to be treated in field hospitals. Where roads were badly damaged by shell holes, it would have been a very uncomfortable way to travel.
Drawn by a four-horse team, the light ambulance wagon was designed by Surgeon Colonel W.D.C. Williams.
Ambulance of the Royal Army Medical Corps in Mesopotamia, 1917
By 1919 mechanical transport was gradually being introduced to the Indian Army. It nevertheless continued to rely heavily on thousands of locally-sourced oxen, mules, elephants and camels to transport the wounded, supplies and weapons.
Ox-drawn ambulance cart, Waziristan, c1919