Red Cross Squadron Entering the Ascension Island during the South Atlantic Campaign

This painting by Roger Roland Sutton Fisher shows how serious the British were concerned about casualties. It shows quite a flotilla of hospital ships that would all make their way down to the South Atlantic to support the invasion fleet and landing force. They would also tend to large numbers of Argentine casualties once the land campaign had got underway. The clearly marked red crosses did not always save these ships from attack by Argentine warplanes.

The S.S. UGANDA was designated a Hospital Ship in accordance with Article 22 of the Geneva Convention, having been fitted out in Gibraltar Dockyard. Accomodation to allow for the treatment and holding of up to 300 casualties was provided, together with sufficient medical] personnel to cover all major specialities. A number of Q.A.R.N.N.S. officers and ratings were embarked in the ship as part of the medical complement. In order to comply fully with the Convention, the ship was declared to the International Committee of the Red Cross (I.C.R.C.) before sailing from Gibraltar, marked as required by the Convention.

Additionally, three survey ships, H.M. Ships HECLA, HERALD and HYDRA, were designated as casualty ferries, fitted out and declared as Hospital Ships under the Geneva Convention.

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by Stephen Luscombe