Medical History: Surgical Travellers: Tapestry to Bayeux
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CitationHedley-Whyte, John, and Debra R. Milamed. 2014. Medical History: Surgical Travellers: Tapestry to Bayeux. In Ulster Medical Journal 83, no. 3: 171-177.
AbstractThe planning for surgery in war was revisited in 1937 when Ian Fraser was elected a member of the Surgical Travellers. At their 1938 Surgical Travellers meeting in Vienna, Ian and Eleanor Fraser were evicted from their hotel room by the Nazis. The 1939 meeting in Belfast discussed the organization of surgery and the conduct of Emergency Medical Service Hospitals in the United Kingdom; the vast majority were to be under civilian government and military control.
From 1943 lengthy and informative organizational meetings were held at least monthly under the chairmanship of Sir Alexander Hood, KBE, Head of the RAMC. Surgical Consultants, now Major Generals, Brigadiers or Full Colonels in the British and U.S. Armies stationed in the UK, prepared for the invasion of Europe. The allocation of medical, surgical, nursing and auxiliary responsibilities was delineated. Liaison with the RAF and US Army Air Force was close as it was with the proposed leaders, Ulstermen Brooke and Montgomery. Montgomery chose Arthur Porritt as Surgeon in Chief to Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF), and Eisenhower, General Albert W. Kenner.
Just after D-Day, Porritt met Ian Fraser, who had waded in on Arromanches Beach. The triage and evacuation plans for Allied casualties had been controversial, particularly as regards Landing Ship Tanks (LSTs). The dispute with the Hood-selected surgeons on one side, against medical and surgical deployment of LSTs, and Admiral Ernest King and Winston Churchill on the other, favouring LST use for surgery and evacuation. King and Churchill were correct but total Allied air superiority allowed wide use of many of the Allies' Dakotas; 10,000 DC-3s were eventually in service. Supported by forty Allied combat planes to each Luftwaffe, the dispute about Landing Ship Tank use in about a fortnight became moot. The multifaceted role of the Princess Royal in the Emergency Medical Services of the United Kingdom and her close liaison with the Consultant Surgeons was of great value to the Allies.
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