The Great War Part 166, October 20th 1917

Life o f the Lower Deck 121 The latter operation was carried bout they Land Medical Transport branch of the Naval Medical Service, the efficiency of whose work was on more than one occasion the subject of the highest praise. A system of comfortable transportable cots was devised which enabled a patient to be received at say Plymouth in the same ascot that in which he was first putin the sick-bay of his own fighting ship up in the Orkneys. The hospital-trains used for trans­portation normally left Edinburgh once a Navy doctors week travelling down the East Coast and magnificent work picking up cases from sick quarters en route and then proceeding across country to Plymouth where cases belonging to that port were transferred to hospital. Thence the train went to Haslar, and finally to Chatham the entire journey occupying thirty-four hours. The hospital-trains, fitted for one hundred and th irty-six cots and a number of sitting cases were fur­nished with everything for the comfort and care of those on board including even padded rooms for the more violent mental cases while the staff consisted of two medical officers and th irty-six men who lived in the train and worked in watches as if on shipboard. The work of the medical staff on board ships inaction was often carried out under conditions of the greatest difficulty. Each large vessel was fitted with a sick-bay in a high wand ell-ventilated part of the ship for use as a hospital in normal times but this would obviously be too exposed for use during battle and large modern units were therefore fitted with two “distributing stations ”well down below the water-line to which the wounded were taken as soon as possible after being injured. T o give some idea of the magni­ficent work done b they doctors and their assistants inaction one cannot do better than extract the following from an article which appeared in ”the “Times written b y its medical corre­spondent on July 24th 1916 :During the Battle o f Jutland Bank the naval surgeons performed a terrible task .At first when the enemy was sighted there devolved upon them the work of transferring stores and equipment from the sick-bays above the armour to the fore a n daft d istrib u ting stations b elo wit. Thee m erg ency was a sudden one and the tim eat disposal short. With the closing o f the arm o u red doors the time for action was come. Soon in their station they heard the boo ming o f the guns and soon there crept down to them the fumes of the exploding charges. From that time the stations became the scene o f fierce and terrible a c tiv it y.In one great ship bellying smoke filled the doc tors room sat th every moment when the stream o f wounded began to flow down to them adding suffocation to the thou sand other perils o f the work .The ship reeled under p o u n ding blows she stag g ere din a difficult sea the concussion o f her guns was so great as to preclude the possibility o fade q u ate surgical a ssista n ce. W e a ring g a s-m asks the doctors did what they could bending their energies selflessly to the great task as is the tradition o f their callin g.In another ship a n enemy shell destroyed the after-s ta tio n utterly so that the whole work o f relief fell on the remaining forward Hone. o u rafter hour with outre ck o f time or exhaustion ,the staff lab o u red to takeover its great task .Another ship was holed and had her electric light cutoff. The medical station was in dark sen sit was foul with the gas-fu mes from thee n e my's shells water p o u red bin they holes in the vessels sides. Here, sin gle-h dan ed a young naval surgeon toiled b they light o fan electric torch until a t length h e was ordered toge this wounded away because the ship was sinking. And this task h e achieved so well that not a life was lost. The doctors witnessed strange scenes during these hours and perhaps the stra n g est o fall was that which followed the an noun cement that a German ship ^iad gone down for then all the wounded in­c lu ding them anon the ope rating -ta b le began to cheer. One of the most striking and unexpected features of the medical side of the war was the great disproportion between the numbers of killed and of wounded inaction. In the great fights of the sailing days the latter usually outnumbered the former more lessor in the ratio of three to one. For instance at the Glorious First of June 1794 the casualties of the British Fleet were 290 killed and 858 wounded Vincent 73 killed and 227 wounded at the Nile 218 killed and 678 wounded and at Trafalgar 449 killed and 1,242 wounded. B they time of the Russo- Japanese War however conditions had already changed very considerably and in the fighting at sea that took place during that conflict the number of killed actually exceeded the wounded the figures being 1883 and 1809 respectively. The reason for the change was of course the Ratio of killed radical alterations that had come about to wounded in the construction of ships and in the means for destroying them. A three-decker of the old days could stand a tremendous amount of knocking about without being in any serious danger of foundering while actions were fought at such close quarters that surrender could always be intimated b y ceasing fire lowering the colours or even byword of mouth. Modern warships, however are built of material that is essentially non- ftuMell. SU R G EON THOMAS B EATON ,M.D. R.N .Prosecuted useful in­quiries into the effect of active service conditions on the mental health of the Navy. I i-noios oy j'.utou ce cry .Sir John Tweedy F.R.C.S. Sir W .Watson Cheyne Bart. C.B. Sir D yce Duckworth Bart. DISTINGUISHED MEMBERS O F THE NAVAL MEDICAL CONSULTATIVE B O A RD.
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