Medivac, or Medevac, is now common plus, those of my generatio or older well remember the opening sequence of the film MASH and, or at least the TV spin off. For those who are younger http://vimeo.com/57248653. I was not going to mention but not only the best films, but we went to see the best bands too. We have all seen scenes of helicopters evacuating wounded soldiers from Afghanistan, medivac has been part and parcel of military operations since the Korean War,…and earlier.
The first recorded evacuation by air, of a wounded british soldier from the frontline happened at Bir el Hassana on the 17 February 1917. A Lance corporal had injured his ankle. the unit had come under fire from Bedouin Arabs. unable to ride a camel and too far from a casualty clearing stations something else had to be devised or the lance corporal would surely die. When everything usual had been thought of and rejected something new had to be thought of. Who thought of the idea is not known. it was the Royal flying Corps, the R.F.C. who came to the rescue. The Lance Corporal would be Medically evacuated by air. The Aircraft to be used was a B.E.2c. Slow, but extremely stable the B.E.2c had been designed by Geoffrey de Haviland-who later designed the Mosquito of WW2 fame. By todays standards the B.E.2C was flimsy, there are one or two still flying although I think they may be replicas. By 1917 they were mostly relegated to second line duties, or to flying at night. they were the best planes available. The Lance Corporal was flown directly from Bir el Hassana to the hospital at El Arish. The very first of a long line of wounded British soldiers to be evacuated by air, from the frontline, had been successfully completed. The next would have to wait until world war two.
So what was it like to fly in a B.E.2c? this is an observer’s account