by Steve Turchet
The term ambulance comes from the Latin word ambulare which means to walk or move about. The history of military ambulances dates back to ancient times when carts or wagons were used to transport wounded soldiers. During World War One, the Red Cross implemented the first military motor ambulances to replace horse-drawn vehicles.
During World War Two, both the Allied and Axis armed forces employed many types of field ambulances. Most were built on standard military truck chassis to simplify maintenance, repair, and interchangeability of parts; and many were all-wheel-drive, or even half-tracked, for use in rugged terrain.
As the need for ambulances increased, other vehicles, usually cargo trucks, were often pressed into ambulance service and converted in the field by adding stretcher racks and the requisite markings. There were hundreds of different types of military ambulances used by the various armed forces during the war, so the vehicles presented here comprise only a fraction and may be considered typical examples.