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The RAMC in the Great War.

The RAMC in the Great War.

Timothy McCracken
ARRSE Rating
4 Mushroom Heads
The book has about eight pages of historic and WW1 detail regarding the Royal Army Medical Corps prior to, and during The Great War. The remainder of the book contain several hundred pictures of groups of RAMC personnel. Other photographs are of individual post card size images that were so typical of WW1 Soldiers photos which they sent to wives, girlfriends and family. The photographs are made much more interesting by the research and the detail that the author has included with each individual photograph. Many of the postcard images have the soldiers details of service, Dob and date of Marriage, the date and place of death etc. On the photographs, it is surprising to see the number of wound stripes shown on the sleeves of various young RAMC soldiers.

When war came in 1914, the scale of casualties that followed were never envisaged, so much so that along with the remainder of the army, the RAMC was desperately short of men, however it was both men and women that quickly joined the Corps. Numbers were 66,400 by the end of 1914. Doctors came from all over the dominions, volunteers came from the USA. British Territorial units were trawled where some doctors were found serving their County Regiments as Platoon and Company Commanders,

The RAMC manned Casualty Clearing Stations, Field Hospitals, Base Hospitals, sanitary units that were attached to Brigades and Divisions. They manned Hospital ships, Hospital trains and the Hospital barges that sailed some of the larger rivers of France such as the Seine and the River Somme. The barges were a collection termed Barge Flotillas, the images of the barges showing the facilities below decks is most interesting, it shows that much design was thought out to provide really good comfort for the wounded, the barges, judging by the photographs were run by female nurses VADs with male assistance. Each barge had a matron on board. Hospital trains were equally impressive and similarly staffed.

It was a surprise to see that the Corps of the RAMC had many ‘ Infantry style’ Corps of Drums and Bands, the Scots units had Pipe Bands, especially in the larger hospitals in France and England, they were good morale boosters for the wounded when concerts were performed. Some RAMC units especially in the Middle East were ‘mounted units’

Base Hospitals had 10040 beds. Wards were broken down into: Head wounds, orthopaedic wards, stomach wounds etc.

A very interesting book and is well worth the read. I award it 4 stars, I would have liked to have seen more field images and more detail of the wounded soldiers shown within the pages. The RAMC number of killed during the war was 6.873 world-wide.

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