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GWR Route: Banbury to Wolverhampton

Moor Street Station: gwrms2747

The first wounded soldiers arrive in Birmingham on 1st September 1914 for treatment and convalescence

The first wounded soldiers arrived in Birmingham on 1st September 1914 for treatment and convalescence at the new 1st Southern Military General Hospital. This hospital had been established the previous month with 570 beds in the requisitioned buildings of Birmingham University in Selly Oak. Two ambulance trains (Nos 4 and 5) had travelled from Swindon to Southampton Docks on 24/25th August and on that Tuesday morning the platforms at Moor Street Station were shut to the public as a twelve coach ambulance train with 106 beds arrived at 9:45am. The photograph shows one of the wounded soldiers being transferred on a stretcher to a waiting ambulance. It was reported that there were two dozen seriously wounded, who were transferred to the hospital in six ambulances, while four omnibuses were provided for the walking wounded who numbered a further one hundred.

As the First World War continued more hospital beds were required for the returning wounded and the Poor Law Infirmary on Dudley Road was taken over as an annex to the 1st Southern General Hospital, receiving its first wounded patients on 10th May 1915. The following month it was reported that the Great Western Railway had spent £592 to erect a new platform at Soho & Winson Green station specifically for ambulance trains carrying casualties to this hospital. By the end of the war the Great Western Railway ambulance trains had made around 6,000 journeys over its tracks, with 200 of these destined for stations in Birmingham (primarily the Soho & Winson Green platform), while another 33 were destined for Stratford-on-Avon. For more details about the Great Western Railway’s Ambulance Trains see 'Operating Equipment & Practices / ambulance trains'.

Robert Ferris