Former Ipswich bus now serving as a field ambulance in war-torn Ukraine

Ukraine bus

The former Ipswich vaccination bus filling up with fuel before arriving at the border with Ukraine. - Credit: Stephen Bryce

A former Ipswich bus that has travelled across Europe to deliver humanitarian supplies to Ukraine has now been commandeered and turned into a field ambulance to help wounded soldiers.

The Ipswich Buses vehicle was last year converted into a vaccine bus and was used across Suffolk to help get as many jabs in arms as possible.

But it was then surplus to requirements and it was offered to the charity Emergency First to take medical and other humanitarian supplies across Europe.

It set off from Suffolk on March 4 and after crossing the North Sea to the Hook of Holland was driven across the continent before arriving at the Poland/Ukraine border at the end of last week. 

It eventually crossed the border on Monday and drove to Lviv in western Ukraine where it was unloaded - and then promptly commandeered to act as emergency transport.

Ipswich Buses general manager Stephen Bryce said: "We're heard it is now being used to take wounded soldiers from field hospitals to the main hospitals in Lviv for treatment.

"The bus had most of its seats removed when it was converted into a vaccination vehicle so it is able to carry stretchers and medical equipment.

"We had expected it to be used as a blood centre when it arrived but the people there had a different use for it.

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"It is supposed to eventually be coming back - but I have no idea when and to be honest I'm not really expecting to see it again."

The volunteers who drove it across the continent sent back pictures of the bus being refuelled at a service station in  Poland shortly before it reached the border - but have not be able to send any photographs from inside Ukraine.

Mr Bryce said: "It was held at the border for a few days while the papers were checked but it got through on Monday."

Lviv has so far not been seriously damaged by the Russian invasion - although military bases near the city have been targeted.

As a large city only 70km from the border with Poland, Lviv is an important staging post for refugees whether they want to stay in their own country or find shelter outside Ukraine.