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Soldiers' WWI diaries reveal devilish side of WWI angels

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BerichtGeplaatst: 29 Apr 2008 6:41    Onderwerp: Soldiers' WWI diaries reveal devilish side of WWI angels Reageer met quote

Soldiers' WWI diaries reveal devilish side of World War I angels

Nurses inflicted pain upon wounded soldiers in the First World War to a scandalous degree, according to new research.

Military hospitals have traditionally been portrayed as havens run by caring, if overstretched, staff but fresh evidence suggests that the experience of patients was very different.

Diaries written by injured working-class soldiers from the Somme to Gallipoli have revealed how they silently endured brutal treatment by the female military nurses, surgeons, physiotherapists and stretcher-bearers during the Great War.

Surgeons became hated figures depicted in hospital magazines as “Captain Hack” or “Captain Scalpel”. The female physiotherapists were “perpetrators of pain who resembled drill sergeants rather than bedside nurturers”.

Ana Carden-Coyne, lecturer in war conflict studies at Manchester University, who has researched hitherto untapped material for her book Men in Pain, describes how untrained or inexperienced medical staff were recruited to frontline care. So extensive were the demands for orthopaedic rehabilitation as the wounded returned across the Channel that decorum was put to one side and for the first time women were allowed to manipulate the bodies of wounded young men. There was a belief that if their physiotherapy was not hurting, it was not working.

Dr Carden-Coyne said: “Women had power over the wounded body. They inflicted pain upon patients to a degree that was, at times, scandalous and ignited institutional struggles among medical authorities.”

One Australian private complained in his diary that he felt the need to “keep quiet” when his doctor probed two inches into his leg wound for a piece of loose bone “with all the instruments of torture”, including tongs.

Another soldier recalled his humiliation when a nursing sister unwrapped bandages from his amputated arm. He witnessed her “falling down laughing” because the muscle wastage had left it “the size of a child’s”. Dr Carden-Coyne, co-director of the university’s Centre for the Cultural History of War, said: “These journals and cartoons show that the heroic myths of sacrifice popular at the time are rather false: those who were injured fighting for King and country were poorly cared for.

“Military medical propaganda was about how well we cared for the wounded and that is acutely contradicted by this evidence. In contrast to the image of good patients frequently mentioned in published accounts of medical staff, these soldiers used the form of patient diaries to express their horror and resistance in secret.

“They recorded personal stories of pain and healing with an extraordinary level of detail, were very attached to the diaries and took them seriously. Each day they entered information about their wounds, medical staff, treatment, feelings, doubts, complaints about the lack of vocational training, or refusing therapeutic treatments and surgical interventions.”

She believes that the soldiers kept diaries to regain some control over their lives. In turn the authorities allowed some leeway over subversive cartoons in hospital magazines because they acted as a pressure valve.

“While there are examples of sympathetic relationships between nurses and patients, the system was often very brutal, and indeed some of the nursing staff were also quite brutal,” Dr Carden-Coyne said.

She added that “the wounded did not enter the heroic mythology of the war. They have been locked out of the discourse of commemoration.”

Wry testimonies of the long-suffering

— Cartoons drawn by patients for fellow sufferers use gallows humour to depict incompetent surgeons and brutish nurses

— One shows a character called Surgeon Hack who saws his fingers off as he practises on a tree stump

— Hospitals are dehumanising factories where bodies are treated and repaired on a conveyor belt to be sent back to the front

— In one poem, Captain Scalpel blows an even larger hole into a shell wound. Though the patient “howled like a pup and shrieked like an eight-inch howitzer, Captain Scalpel said: ‘All is well’ ”

— Female physiotherapists were instructed that massaging of amputated limbs had to be forceful to work and “blows should be sharp and quick but not heavy enough to bruise”. In one hospital a nurse broke a patient’s shoulder bone

— A soldier complained that, in contravention of the procedure of the Royal Army Medical Corps, he had been left to arrange his own leg splint

— Another recorded that staff at a hospital back home made him change his own dressings. The philosophy was “kill or cure”

— He wrote: “In the last hospital I would have been in serious trouble if I tried to touch the bandage or the wound and now here I am being told to soak my leg in the bath and then the dirt and stuff under the plaster will run down over the wound. If the wound gets poisoned the chance of loosing [sic] my leg is big”

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Woonplaats: Binnen de Atlantikwall en 135 km van het WO1-front

BerichtGeplaatst: 20 Mei 2008 18:07    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Het is bijna onmogelijk om na zoveel jaren te onderzoeken hoe groot het probleem was dat boven geschetst wordt. Incidenten zijn er ongetwijfeld genoeg geweest, alleen al door de gigantische aantallen gewonden. Ik vraag me af of er over dit soort zaken wel eens mijn of meer objectieve onderzoeken zijn gedaan. ik ben bang van niet.
"Setzen wir Deutschland, so zu sagen, in den Sattel! Reiten wird es schon können..... "
"Wer den Daumen auf dem Beutel hat, der hat die Macht."

Otto von Bismarck, 1869
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Jun 2008 19:12    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Een stukje ter vergelijking uit onze huidige tijd:
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De enige echte
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