Wounded soldiers arrived at Halifax Station and were transported in convoy to the Halifax Infirmary and St. Luke's Military Hospital
1914 November 21
The arrival of the first convoy of wounded soldiers in numbers was one of the first wake-up calls of the Great War for the people of Halifax. There had been small groups of wounded previously but nothing on the scale that was witnessed on 17 November 1914. As the Courier said “our insular position has for very many years prevented such experiences being brought to our own doors”. Reports on the fighting from around Ypres had been extremely bland and gave little idea that casualties were five times greater than the actions back in August which had alarmed the British public so much. The wounded numbered about 100 and arrived at the Halifax railway station in a Red Cross corridor train which was fully equipped for its purpose. Several of them were stretcher cases and, according to the Courier, they showed unmistakable signs of “having been amongst the shrapnel”. This reference to shrapnel is interesting because it highlights something which would eventually lead to the introduction of steel helmets. At this point in the war, British soldiers wore only cloth caps. Shrapnel (a shower of spherical bullets scattered from exploded artillery shells) was inflicting numerous head wounds on soldiers even as they sheltered in their trenches. The convoy which took them to the two major local hospitals (Halifax Royal infirmary and St Luke’s Salterhebble) consisted of ten ambulances and five tramcars. St John Ambulance members assisted in the transfer.