ID numberART23184
Collection typeArt
TitleCarrying stretcher case down a ravine
MeasurementOverall: 27 cm x 22.3 cm
Object typeDrawing
MakerDargie, William
Place madeNew Guinea: Huon Peninsula, Ramu River Finisterre Ranges Area, Finisterre Ranges
Date madeMarch - May 1944
Physical descriptionpen, ink and wash on paper
CopyrightAWM copyright
DescriptionPen and ink sketch of soldiers of the 57/60th Australian Infantry Battalion carrying a wounded soldier on a stretcher. Dargie noted:
"After digging our way over the landslide mentioned in sketch 291 [ART22164], we rounded the corner and found that what had been a perfectly good bridge which we had crossed on our way up, was now a jumble of timber at the bottom of a ravine 200 feet deep. There was evidence that some evil-minded people who didn't like us were responsible for this, but of course it might have fallen down on its own accord on a perfectly fine still night. If so, New Guinea timbers are capable of breaking off so clean that they look as if they have been sawn through, and when doing this they can also pick the night to collapse when a Coy is out off, and it is very necessary that supplies be brought forward and the wounded back.
It took us over an hour to negotiate this ravine. There was no way around, and the very steep sides were of loose earth and stones which rolled as one tried to scramble down. Eventually, this was the method we used to get the stretcher down; five men on each side of the stretcher worked it over the lip of the slope and passed it into the hands of three other men on each side who were waiting just below them. As soon as the man at the top had passed the weight to the man next in line, he scrambled round and down to the bottom of the line, got as firm a foothold as he could, and took the weight of the end of the stretcher as it came down to him. In this way the wounded was moved down a sort of endless chain to the bottom. During all this time we were very conscious that the stones and earth which we were dislodging could very easily become a minor landslide. We took longer to get up the other side. Instead of slithering and scrambling down to the end of the line, as we had done on the other slope, we now had to climb up. A long rest was necessary when we eventually got up to the track again.
I am afraid that this is a very rough sketch. It was made whilst we were resting after crossing the ravine, and my hand wasn't too steady. Some perspiration stains are not exactly improvements, either. But it is a note which may be very useful indeed for future reference".