Chapter

The machine in Motion: the Western Front, July 1916–November 1918

Mark Harrison

in The Medical War

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780199575824
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595158 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199575824.003.0003
The machine in Motion: the Western Front, July 1916–November 1918

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This chapter examines the role of the medical services in the major offensives that began in the summer of 1916 with the Battle of the Somme. It shows how arrangements for casualty disposal were gradually altered in such a way as to maximize efficiency. It also argues that medical planning was sufficiently flexible to cope with the advent of mobile warfare in 1918. It argues that the success of medical arrangements was due to an unparalleled degree of coordination between different branches of the army and the consistent interest taken in the medical services by senior commanders. In addition to operational planning, the chapter considers the ways in which efficiency was improved through growing specialization of treatment. It does so first by examining various aspects of surgery, including the treatment of abdominal wounds, then medical problems, such as the treatment of gas casualties, and, finally, the management of shell-shock in front-line facilities.

Keywords: casualty disposal; commanders; efficiency; gas; offensives; planning; shell-shock; specialization; surgery; wounds

Chapter.  27556 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Military History

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