Medical Practice In War

Good Essays
“It was a horrible night, and by dawn 32 of my 44 stretcher bearers were casualties, mostly gassed, ultimately 16 of them died, including Sachs, a good man, whom probably my order killed” solemnly wrote Eric Payten Dark, army doctor of the first world war. World war One: a seemingly endless massacre of emotionless soldiers killing under the impression of protecting their country. Along with this massacre came gruesome and morbid injuries which had to be treated in some way. This was the heavy responsibility of army doctors new to the idea of battle who had to face unimaginable challenges and dangers presented by the war as they dealt with injuries of such despondent nature. Acting silently, doctors rest unappreciated for their crucial and…show more content…
Mainly due to the spontaneous nature of war, army doctors (like soldiers) came from various locations. Any doctors that existed, including university students, were thrown into the war if they satisfied requirements (NFB). This is likely a result of the sheer magnitude of predicted casualties. Along with this, however, doctors can never train in medical school what medical practice in war would be like which presented many issues. Referenced in a documentary regarding medical practice during war entitled John McCrae’s War: In Flanders Fields, “Nothing could’ve prepared [doctors] for what they’d experience” (NFB). The main issue with doctors not being prepared for war was the new types of wounds they encountered. Hellish injuries were caused by shellfire. These shells when they hit the ground wreaked havoc on the bodies of soldiers, tearing flesh and causing the unforeseen mauling of limbs (NFB). Imagine these doctors, used to having x-rays and medical personnel to help them are reduced to operating by themselves on the most morbid wounds imaginable. In a black and white picture taken by H. D. Girdwood, five doctors hover over a soldier draped in cloth with a bullet stuck inside of him (Girdwood). What this shows is that many doctors were…show more content…
When the mental and physical effects of war are thought of, it is normally the soldiers on the front line in the trenches who are thought of. Rightfully so, but army doctors often get the cold shoulder when it comes to being recognized for what they endured throughout the first world war. First of all, William Dearden wrote a blunt but real article in Harper’s Weekly entitled Surgeons and the Trenches. In this article he speaks of these hardships doctors were going through describing the death of more than 125 german doctors after one year of the war. He also describes that “doctors themselves are suffering more than before”. Here Dearden is speaking that doctors were often the targets of shellfire as field hospitals acted like a beacon for destruction with the amount of soldiers contained within them (Dearden 5). Additionally, the same mud that caked the trenches would be brought into hospitals and work into the clothing of doctors and cause physical challenges when trying to treat patients. The mental difficulties endured by doctors is captured in the diary by Dr. Eric Dark who describes the events he experienced as a surgeon in the first World War. At points in his recount, he recalls things like “So of the men I set out with, five would be dead”, “I have been scared several times after that but never again
Get Access