Sunday, December 20, 2009

Hospital Ship I.

This is coolbert:

Here with a series of blog entries on the hospital ship. More specifically, attacks on hospital ships, intentional or otherwise. Attacks in direct violation of the Geneva Conventions and the common law of warfare. Non-combatant vessels on the high seas during a time of war, specifically marked and exempt from attack under all and any circumstances.

Exempt from attack under international conventions and law, and yet there existing a very sorry record of such attacks occurring, egregious and callous in nature.

Hospital ships, also referred to as Mercy ships, floating hospitals, floating ambulances, etc. Providing medical treatment and service to wounded personnel, most of which are non-ambulatory, ferrying those afflicted by war wounds to a safer location, far from the battlefield.

Hospital ships are a Twentieth Century phenomenon? Such ships in both World Wars seeing extensive service and performing yeoman work!! Just during the Great War [WW1], for the British alone:

"2,261,502 wounded men returned to Britain from France aboard hospital ships and 29,000 returned aboard hospital ships from Malta, the Middle East and Africa

The operation of hospital ships during war time are strictly governed by international protocols and agreements.

International Law of the Geneva Convention ruled that hospital ships had to:

* "display electrically powered lights to illuminate their red cross signs on the sides of the ship and upon the deck." [light providing illumination at night in total disregard for normal military procedure.

* "were painted all white with a broad green stripe round the hull and red crosses painted on the sides to make them easily [identifiable]."

Markings however, that even when recognized, did not mean the ships were exempt from attack. Far from it!! Rather than warding off attack, such markings SEEMED to encourage attack!!

Sadly the reality was that they [hospital ships] provided an easy target.

So much so an easy target that:

"Towards the end of the First World War many of the hospital ships were painted grey so that enemy ships, planes and U-boats could not tell them apart from merchant ships in an attempt to stop them being targeted."

The list of British hospital ships [British ships alone in this case, as for others, I cannot say!] sunk during World War One [WW1] is pretty extensive. The brutal Hun at his worst!

Ships sunk to include:

* "HMHS China served during the Great War. It hit a mine at Scapa Flow on the 10 August 1918. Four lives were lost"

* "the Glenart Castle was sunk in the Bristol Castle and 162 lives were [lost]."

* "the Hospital Ship Warilda that was torpedoed [and sank] after leaving Le Havre on its passage to Southampton on 3 August 1918."

* "The Hospital Ship Rewa was sunk by a U boat off the Bristol Channel on the 4 January 1918 and four lives were lost."

* "The Hospital Ship Salta was sunk on the 10 April 1917 with the loss of 52 lives"

* "The Hospital Ship Gloucester Castle was torpedoed in the English Channel"

* "HS Asturias was torpedoed out of Salonika. [March 1917]"

I must ask the question if the brutal Hun, the German submariner, in a quite deliberate and malicious manner attacked these vessels with the intention to sink, kill all those on board, do maximum damage.

Sinking or attacking such ships is a grave violation in wartime for which the normal punishment would be death for the perpetrator. That so many British [alone] hospital ships were attacked and sunk is a clear indication that pre-meditation of an evil sort was at work here? I don't like to think so, but am forced to conclude as much - - the brutal Hun was up to NO GOOD!


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