Red stripes

Label, side 1One of the most poignant items submitted on the First World War archive roadshows so far is a paper label belonging to Dr. Margrit Behncke of Berlin. This little ticket, not unlike a luggage label, was attached to the jacket of the soldier when wounded.

The triage system allowed for just three very stark possibilities. For those so badly injured that they could not be moved the label had two red stripes: for most this was the end of the road, expiring where they lay. The slightly more fortunate, like this soldier, had a single red stripe on their label. This meant that the soldier was well enough to be carried away down the line to the dressing stations, hospitals, and possibly even the 'Heimat', or homeland. Some labels had no stripe: the wearer was 'walking wounded', fit enough to go the rear under their own efforts.

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