Chapter

Military medicine in transition: Mesopotamia, June 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/9780199575824.003.0008
Military medicine in transition: Mesopotamia, June 1916–November 1918

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From 1916 the very dismal medical situation in Mesopotamia began to improve due to a massive injection of manpower and resources and a wholesale change of command. The headquarters staff in Mesopotamia now took medicine seriously and integrated disease prevention and casualty disposal more effectively into operational planning. After years of censorship, there was also greater openness and the theatre was opened to voluntary organizations such as the Red Cross, which played a major role in the evacuation of casualties. Sanitary work was placed on a more systematic footing, too, with much greater attention to hygiene among front line troops. All this had a remarkable effect upon health and morale in the theatre but, at the end of 1916, one serious problem remained: high rates of scurvy among Indian troops. This problem was not resolved until transport and logistics were improved. The chapter concludes by examining the Mesopotamia Commission and its verdict upon the medical aspects of the operation.

Keywords: casualty disposal; commanders; hygiene; Indian army; logistics; Mesopotamia Commission; Red Cross; sanitation; scurvy; transport

Chapter.  14216 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Military History

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