Volume I – Gallipoli, Palestine and New Guinea (2nd edition, 1938)

Author: Butler, Arthur Graham

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In PART I by A G Butler, the general and detailed plans for the medical arrangements for the Landing, the operations in August, and the Evacuation are described; the working of these plans at Anzac, on the lines of communication, and at the base, are reviewed; and the causes and consequences of the confusion in the clearance of the wounded, which occurred in connection with the Landing and, to a less extent, the August fighting, are traced and exposed. The important part allotted to the inadequately–prepared “Black Ships” at the Landing is fully dealt with, and the actual influence on mortaility of the “breakdown” in the Medical Service is assessed. The fight with disease, which at Gallipoli proved to be in some respects more serious a menance than the enemy’s fire, is followed in detail from its first “onslaught” on the AIF in Egypt until “the debacle” on Gallipoli in September and October. The causes of the collapse in health, which is revealed in an arresting series of graphs, are analysed, and the methods of prevention critically examined. During 1914–15 the Medical Services slowly evolved a system of internal order and control, and the vicissitudes through which they passed in the process of obtaining self–government while serving as an integral part of the British forces are impartially narrated. Part I concludes with a review of the activities of the Services in Australia during the first half of the war – the training of personnel for the AAMS, the selection and medical care of recruits for the AIF, and the reception and treatment of invalids returned from overseas. From these tasks there arose problems of great importance and interest – the sanitation of camps preventive inoculation, treatment of disabled and incapacitated soldiers, their reinstatement, and the inauguration of schemes for repatriation and pensioning which were far–reaching and fraught with momentous consequences.

PART II by R M Downes, presents the detail of medical work with mounted troops in a completeness not hitherto attempted in connection with modern warfare. The climate, terrain, nature of the operations, and diseases endemic in this Eastern theatre of war, gave rise to problems entirely different from those which confronted the Medical Services in France. Special interest is also lent to this part, as its writer points out, by “the likelihood that military operations in Australia would resemble more closely those carried on in Sinai and Palestine than the trench warfare of France.”

PART III by F A Maguire and R W Cilento deals not only with the short military campaign but also with the long period of military government with its quasi–civil problems of administration and of public health in a tropical country. The system then improvised to serve the requirements of a widely scattered white and native population, beset with the problems of the tropics, eventually merged into that by which the territory was governed by Australia under mandate from the League of Nations. The gradual change from war to post–war conditions and certain subsequent developments have been outlined.

Throughout the book, special attention is devoted to the dental service, the importance of whose work became increasingly evident as the war progressed. The work in the hospitals affords an opportunity for dealing with the devoted efforts of the Australian Army Nursing Service. The place of the Pharmacists in the medical service receives attention, and the imperfect utilisation at first of this special department and its somewhat belated recognition are noted. The part of the Voluntary Aid Organisations, notably the Red Cross Society, in assisting and supplementing the work of the military medical services, is closely followed and clearly presented.