When sick and wounded soldiers left the battlefield they were out of immediate danger, but were not entirely safe until they reached their final destination. It was not uncommon for hospital ships to be attacked, whether because of mistaken identity or intentionally.
The Australian hospital ship HMAT Warilda was sunk on 3 August 1918 with the loss of 123 lives. The greatest disaster of this kind was in February 1916 when a German U-boat torpedoed the Canadian hospital ship HMHS Llandovery Castle, with the loss of 234 lives. After the war the U-boat’s captain and two of his lieutenants were charged with war crimes.
In this clip, more than 150 sick and wounded men return to Australia on the S.S Karoola which was fitted as a hospital ship in England. Soldiers suffering severe injuries are transported from the ship to waiting vehicles. They disembark on stretchers and, rather unconventionally, by piggy-back.