Wartimes during WW1 were much more severe and handicapped than one today could possibly imagine. Supplies were more limited than today, ships and other transportation was much more primitive than the state of the art ones of today, and medical supplies today are more attainable than during WWI. Below is a hint of what it was like aboard a hospital ship in 1915.
Life on board a hospital ship
The hospital ship, Madras, subscribed for and maintained by the residents of the Presidency, did much good work since the early days of November, 1915 in transporting sick and wounded soldiers from Africa and the Persian Gulf back to India. As an instance of what the Madras is capable, it may be mentioned on a trip from Mombasa to India she embarked a British officer, thirty-eight British rank and file-of whom seven were convalescent and one insane- six Indian officers, 144 Indian rank and file, and sixteen followers. The majority of the patients were medical cases, many of which were suffering from a very severe type of malarial fever which is prevalent in East Africa. It appears that 180 of these patients came from the base hospital at Nairobi and made the journey to Mombasa by special East African ambulance train. Almost immediately after completing this voyage the vessel left for Basra, in the Persian Gulf, in response to an urgent request.
As regards to the actual work the Madras, there was a considerable amount for the staff to do even when in dock. There was usually some pretty important work to perform, such as adapting or converting the cabins in order to make them comfortable and useful. Apart from such major work, there were always minor works- repairs, to apparatus and equipment
Then there were hospital stores and supplies to replace and supplement, Red Cross gifts consigned to various destinations to check, and such like things. During all this time, too, the ships coaling, watering, cleaning, and retouching and, possibly, painting was proceeding.
The sick come alongside in barges, steamers, or smaller craft, and are told off into various medical or surgical wards, as the case may be. Students and war boys turned to and carry the kit of hose too ill to manage their own. Stretcher cases were slung on board by steam winches and were then carried by a stretcher squad of students to lifts, which lower them to their respective wards.
On reaching the ward the men are classified by regiments to their various beds. The sick has to sometimes come a long distance to reach the vessel and frequently arrived in an exhausted condition.
Among the trips completed by the Madras were those to East Africa and Zanzibar in November 2015, to British Mesopotamia in March 2015, and to East Africa and the Persian Gulf in April 2015.