Medical Warfare- by Aedan and Torrii

“…everyone has a ‘breaking point’: weak or strong, courageous or cowardly-war frightened everyone witless”’

When people generally think of war they would think of the soldiers, the weapons, and the overall awfulness of it all. But it is obvious that the first thing to come to the mind when the topic of war is not how the medical field interacts with this dreadfulness. When you think about it connects to these battles a great amount. Whether it is when a soldier gets shot or when that said soldier need help right that second and how they need to help that soldier. These strategies of the medical field on the battlefield have been around for a long time and a lot of aspects of this come from what was used in world war one. Although medicine of warfare had changed throughout time because of the importance it held in battles waged, WWI mainly changed the way we treated wounds, moved wounded soldiers and the medicine we use for the casualties out in battles the utmost and basically contributed to how WWI changed warfare.

Medicine during war is often very serious, main things treated during WWI were influenza, trench foot, lice, and typhoid fever some of which were more drastic than others ( Created: Monday, April 07, 1997, Accessed: Thursday, October 23, 2014). Although the one named trench foot may sound like something either made up or not that bad it was, this was when soldiers would stand in water in the trenches for a while, then due to infections as a result the flesh of their foot would decay. This cringing case was one of many treated during this war a more disturbing treated during and after WWI was a case called shellshock. Shellshock was one of the first ideas of grasping the concept of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) a main symptom of both of these diagnoses is unrelenting anxiety. “By the end of World War One the British Army had dealt with over 80,000 cases of shellshock”. Shellshock was something really upsetting to watch first hand and seemed to be a lot more traumatizing than PTSD. . But luckily there were treatments and possible cures, such as, electric shock treatment, hypnosis and rest. Even though men were cured from their physical symptoms, sadly, not all mental symptoms were as reversible (by Professor Joanna Bourke,, BBC, last updated: March 10th, 2011, Accessed: Friday, October 17, 2014).

The way people were treated and transported in such a time is a very crucial part of why medicine at this time helped change modern warfare. Moving an injured man from the battlefield was something really remarkable, “This journey would have been familiar to many wounded soldiers, though the actual route taken would have varied. In quiet periods, a wounded soldier could be evacuated from battlefield to base hospital in less than 24 hours” (By Dr. Saleyha Ahsan,, BBC, Accessed: Friday, October 17, 2014).The WW1 medical evacuation pathway for wounded soldiers was complex and sophisticated Treatment of wounds and diseases were complicated during this war. “The Transport Subdivision is responsible for the collection of the sick and wounded, bringing them into the Tent Subdivisions, which give them required attention and treatment” these guys had a lot of weight on their shoulders everyone was counting on them too try and save their lives (By Major G R N Collins, Edited by Dr. M G Miller,, Accessed: Thursday, October 23, 2014). “Doctors and nurses could do little to help soldiers with influenza and intestinal flu, and these diseases killed more men than machine gun bullets” (By John Campbell, Tar Heel Junior Historian Association, NC Museum of History,, Accessed: Thursday, October 23, 2014). Although they may have been powerless when against these diseases, the medical personnel did do a great deal of work to help the cause. Even when they faced heinous injuries with little equipment and supplies they had on hand. But, when the British moved their medical base closer and supplied it more, many more lives were saved and faster along with that.

Overall with all of the facts and information laid out on the table, it is obvious to see that the medicine during WWI changed it in the present and in turn shows how WWI changed warfare all together. The reason mostly being that a lot of the practices on treatments, medicine used and the transports of soldiers are still in use today and will most likely still be in use in the future. For example “The treatment of so-called trench fever extended our understanding of how to break the spread of such infections” this helps us keep our soldiers healthy and keep them in action to protect. Another way it is still important is the now more understood PTSD people in WWI thought shellshock was a physical condition and tried to treat it as such, now that it has helped us understand it more, we can help our soldiers with proper treatments. Lastly, we still use similar techniques when it comes to moving these men and women. We now can treat wounds closer to the battlefield and get to the main base faster as well as “being able to give wounded soldiers blood on the ground… from the use of saline, through direct donor-to-patient blood transfusion and the development of techniques to store blood – have helped shape much of modern practice”. These are the reasons why the medical field in world war one changed how it is nowadays, but also is a portion a of just how much WWI truly changed warfare.


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