The following pages are intended to give an account of personal experience of the gunshot wounds observed during the South African campaign in 1899 and 1900. For this reason few cases are quoted beyond those coming under my own immediate observation, and in the few instances where others are made use of the source of quotation is indicated. It will be noted that my experience was almost entirely confined to bullet wounds, and in this respect it no doubt differs from that of surgeons employed in Natal, where shell injuries were more numerous. This is, however, of the less moment for my purpose as there is probably little to add regarding shell injuries to what is already known, while, on the other hand, the opportunity of observing large numbers of injuries from rifle bullets of small calibre has not previously been afforded to British surgeons.
I think the general trend of the observations goes to show that the employment of bullets of small calibre is all to the advantage of the men wounded, except in so far as the increased possibilities of the range of fire may augment the number of individuals hit; also that such variations as exist between wounds inflicted by bullets of the Martini-Henry and Mauser types respectively, depend rather on the form and bulk of the projectile than on any inherent difference in the nature of the injuries. Thus in the chapter devoted to the general characters of the wounds, it will be seen that most of the older types of entry and exit aperture are produced in miniature by the small modern bullet, and that the main peculiarity of the deeper injuries is the frequent strict localisation of the direct damage to an area of no greater width than that crossed by narrow structures of importance such as arteries or nerves.
It is to be regretted that I am unable to furnish any important statistical details, but incomplete numbers, such as are at my disposal, would be of little value. In view, however, of the considerable interval which must elapse before the Royal Army Medical Corps is able to arrange and publish the large material which will have accumulated, it has seemed unwise to defer publication until the completion of a report which will deal with such matters thoroughly.
It may be of interest to premise the opportunities which I enjoyed of gaining experience during the campaign. I arrived in South Africa on November 19, 1899; two days later I proceeded to Orange River with Surgeon-General Wilson, and on the day three weeks after leaving home performed some operations in the field hospitals on patients from the battle of Belmont. I remained at Orange River during the three next engagements, Graspan, Enslin, and Modder River, and on the day of Magersfontein I went forward to the Field hospitals at Modder River, arriving during the bringing in of the patients from the field of battle. I returned to Orange River with the patients and remained there a further period of three weeks, during which time the patients were gradually transferred to the Base hospitals at Wynberg. At Christmas I followed the patients down to the base, and thus was able to observe the course of the cases from their commencement to convalescence. I remained at Wynberg six weeks, during which time a number of cases from the neighbourhood of Rensburg and some from Natal were received. On February 7, I left Wynberg, following Lord Roberts up to my old quarters at Modder River, where I saw a few wounded men brought in from the engagements at Koodoosberg Drift. On Lord Roberts's departure for Bloemfontein he requested me to return to Wynberg to await the wounded who might be sent down from the fighting which might occur during his advance. I therefore had the disappointment of seeing the start of the army, and then returning to Wynberg, where I remained for another six weeks in attendance at Nos. 1 and 2 General Hospitals.
During this period a very large number of the wounded from Paardeberg Drift and other battles were sent down and treated, after which surgical work began to flag.
On April 14, I was recalled to the front and journeyed to Bloemfontein, where I stayed three weeks, making one journey out to the Bearer Company of the IX. Division at the Waterworks.
On May 4, I left Bloemfontein with Lord Roberts's army, and shortly after joined the IX. Division, with which I journeyed until the commencement of June, seeing a good deal of scattered work in the field and Field hospitals, and in the small temporary improvised hospitals in the towns of Winberg, Lindley, and Heilbron. Early in June I left Heilbron with Lord Methuen's division, and spent the next four weeks with this division in the field. Thence I journeyed to Pretoria and Johannesburg, seeing a small number of wounded in each town, and on July 10, with Lord Roberts's consent, I started for home, visiting a number of the hospitals in the Orange River Colony and Natal on my way down to Cape Town. During the movements briefly recorded above, which absorbed a period of nine months, my time was fairly evenly divided between Field, Stationary, and Base hospitals; hence I had opportunities of observing the patients in every stage of their illnesses, and in all some thousands of men came under my notice.
[Illustration: FIG. 1.--Linen Holdall with surgical instruments]
My departure for the seat of war was rather hurried, hence my surgical equipment was not of an extensive nature. It may be of interest, however, to shortly recount what it consisted in, since it proved an ample one, and yet was carried in a small satchel. The plan of selection adopted consisted in carefully going through the equipment of the British Field Hospital, and then adding such other instruments as seemed to me likely to be useful. With few exceptions, therefore, designed to meet emergencies, my set of instruments formed a supplement to the actual necessities carried by the Service hospitals, and was as follows:--4 trephines, Horsley's elevator, brain knife and seeker. 2 pairs of Hoffman's and 1 pair of Lane's fulcrum gouge forceps, 3 bone gouges, 1 pair straight 1 curved necrosis forceps, 1 pair bone forceps. 1 Wood's 1 Horsley's skull saws, 18 Gigli's saws with an extra handle, and two Podrez' directors for the same. 1 set Lane's bone drills, broaches, screw-drivers, and counter-sink with eight ounces of screws: silver patella wire, and 1 pair Peter's bone forceps. 2 aneurism needles, 1 bullet probe, 1 pair Egyptian Army pattern bullet forceps. 4 Lane's and 3 pairs Makins's bowel clamps, Nos. 3 4 and 5 Laplace's bowel forceps, 6 Murphy's buttons, 1 pair Morris's retractors, 6 dozen intestine needles, 2 Macphail's needle-holders, Nos. 4 5 6 Thomas's slot-eyed needles, 1 mouth gag, 1 Durham's double raspatory, 3 strong plated raspatories, 1 pair tongue forceps, 1 tracheal dilator, 1 pair hernia needles, 1 hernia and 1 ordinary steel director, 1 transfusion set with metal funnel, and a stock of Messrs. Burroughes and Wellcome's compound saline infusion soloids. 1 antitoxin syringe. 6 scalpels, 2 blunt-pointed curved bistouries, 6 forcipressure forceps, 1 pair Jordan Lloyd's retractors, 1 pair ordinary retractors, 2 pairs of forceps, 3 pairs of Scissors, 1 skin-grafting razor and roll of perforated tin foil, 1 metal pocket case, and 1 hypodermic syringe with tabloids. A stock of silkworm gut, horsehair and silk ligatures, the latter prepared and sterilised for me by Miss Taylor, the Theatre Sister at St. Thomas's Hospital. Some pairs of McBurney's india-rubber, and cotton-thread operating gloves.
[Illustration: FIG. 2.--Instrument Holdall rolled]
The instruments were packed in sets in small linen holdalls suggested and made by Messrs. Down Bros., who also devised my satchel. In the light of the experience gained I should have preferred a tin case to the satchel, as it never needed to be carried on horseback.
For dressings I trusted entirely to the Royal Army Medical Corps, and at my request Colonel Gubbins, R.A.M.C., sent out to the Cape a quantity of sterilised sponges and pads made by Messrs. Robinson & Co. Ltd. of Chesterfield, which fully met all requirements in this direction.
[Illustration: FIG. 3.--Tin Water-bottle for the march (Military Equipment Company)]
This equipment was superfluous at the Base hospitals, but when in the field with the troops proved very useful. In the early part of the campaign I was able to do all my travelling by train, but later I travelled by road only. I received the greatest kindness and help in this particular. General Sir William Nicholson, Chief Director of Transport, provided me with a buggy, a pair of horses, and a driver, and Prince Francis of Teck, the Chief Remount Officer, selected a pony suitable to my equestrian powers. The buggy proved a very great success; the box seat carried my instruments and dressings, the front a 4-gallon tin water-bottle for emergency operations, and the rear shelf my personal belongings. The water-bottle was lent to me by the Portland Hospital. (Fig. 3.)
The cart was able to cross any drifts or dongas, and when an engagement was in progress was able to accompany the Ambulance wagons, so that I had all my necessaries on the spot, even at the first dressing station. In point of fact when with the Highland Brigade, on some occasions, we did all necessary operations on the spot during the progress of fighting; a most useful performance, since fighting on several days did not cease till dark, and the evenings were much too cold to allow of operations being done with safety to the patients. The great advantage of the buggy was its lightness and smallness. On one occasion it accompanied me between 500 and 600 miles without a single accident, beyond the fact that one night I was relieved of both my horses by some troopers whose own were worn out.
[Illustration: FIG. 4.--My Buggy on the veldt at Bloemfontein. (Photo by Mr. Bowlby)]
With regard to the general health of the troops as subjects of surgical wounds, I suppose a better class of patient could scarcely be found. The men were young, sound, well set and nourished, and hard and fit from exercise in the open air. Beyond this, in spite of the scarcity of vegetables, a certain amount of fruit, rations of jam, and lime juice made any sign of scurvy a rare occurrence--I never saw a case during the whole of my wanderings. The meat was good, especially in the early part of the campaign, when it was for the most part brought from Australia and New Zealand, and we enjoyed the two collateral advantages of getting plenty of the ice which had been used for the preservation of the meat, in the camps, and the still greater one of having no butchers' offal to need destruction or prove a source of danger. When bread was to be got it was fairly good, and the biscuit was at all times excellent. Except on the advance from Modder River to Bloemfontein, as far as I could judge, no large bodies of the men ever really suffered from shortness of food, and then only for a few days. Drink was a more serious problem: in the early days beer was to be got at the canteens, but with the increase of numbers and difficulties of transport this ceased to be the case, and water was the sole fluid available. This was often muddy, and the soldiers would take very little care what they drank unless under constant supervision; hence a great quantity of very undesirable water was drunk. None the less I think the water was more often the cause of sand diarrhoea than of enteric fever. A large quantity of fluid was by no means a necessity if the men would only have exercised some self-control. During the first week I spent at Orange River, I drank lime juice and water all day, but after that time, by a very slight amount of determination, I thoroughly broke myself of the habit, and drank at meal-times only. Most of the men however emptied their water-bottles during the first hour of the march, and the rest of the day endured agony, seizing the first opportunity of drinking any filthy water they met with. When, for instance, we camped near a vlei, and the General took the greatest care that the mules and horses should be watered at one spot only, in order to preserve the cleanliness of the rest of the pool, the men would often go and fill their water-bottles amongst the animals' feet rather than take the trouble to walk the few necessary yards round. In such particulars they needed constant supervision.
The climate on the western side was a great element no doubt both in the general healthiness of the men and in the general good results seen in the healing of wounds. The days were often hot; thus even in November at Orange River the thermometer registered 115°F. in the single bell tents, but on the other hand the nights were cool and refreshing. The air was very pure and exceedingly dry, while the constant sunshine not only kept up the spirits, but also proved the most efficient disinfector of any ground fouled to less than a serious extent. Dust was our principal bugbear; and when a camp had been settled for a few days, flies; both of these evils increasing rapidly as the stay on any one spot was prolonged. My personal experience of rain was small, but I was twice in camp, once at Orange River and once at Bloemfontein, when very heavy rain fell, and this was sufficient to make the camps terribly uncomfortable for a few days.
Under these conditions, as might be expected, until the outbreak of enteric fever the health of the men was remarkably good, minor ailments alone prevailing. One of the most troublesome of these was diarrhoea, which gained the appellation of 'the Modders,' already a classical name as far as South Africa is concerned. This most frequently, I think, depended on errors of diet, combined with the swallowing of a large amount of sand with the food as dust, and in the water drunk. Cases of severe dysentery, however, were also not very uncommon. Rheumatic pains were a common ailment, which, considering the dryness of the atmosphere, would hardly have been expected. Continued fever of a somewhat special type was not uncommon, and was sometimes spoken of under the name of the district, sometimes as veldt fever--of this I will say nothing, as others better fitted to point out its peculiarities will no doubt deal with it. Enteric fever, our chief scourge, I will pass over for the same reason. I might, however, remark from the point of view of one not very experienced in this disease, that in a large number of the fatal cases I happened to see, the actual cause of death seemed to me to be septicæmia from absorption from the mouth. The mouths were unusually bad, even allowing for the often insufficient cleansing that was able to be carried out, and I was inclined to attribute these in some degree to the dryness of the atmosphere, which very quickly and effectively dried up the mucous membrane of the mouth in patients not breathing through the nose, and encouraged the formation of large cracks. Pneumonia was rare, and this was rendered the more striking from the comparatively large number of men who contracted the disease on board ship on the voyage out from England.
As will be gathered from the above, medical disease seldom called for the aid of the surgeon. Abdominal section was occasionally considered in cases of perforation in enteric fever, and was, I believe, a few times performed, but as far as I know without success. It was also proposed to treat some of the severe dysentery cases by colotomy, but I never saw the method tried. As far as I was concerned I never met with a case of either disease I thought suitable for the treatment. I saw one case in which an abscess of the liver had followed an attack of enteric, which had been successfully treated by incision, and a few cases of tropical abscess which probably came into the country were also subjected to operation. Some cases of appendicitis, as would be expected, also needed surgical treatment. In a few instances empyema followed influenza, and a few cases of mastoid suppuration had to be dealt with.
Of surgical diseases the one most special to the campaign, although not of great importance, was the veldt sore. This was a small localised suppuration most common on the hands and neck, but sometimes invading the whole trunk, more particularly the lower extremities however, when the covered parts of the body were attacked. The sores were no doubt the result of local infections; they reminded me most of the sores seen on the hands of plasterers, and I think there is no doubt the dust was responsible for them. I think piles were somewhat more prevalent than they should have been among the men, but this was probably dependent on the strain involved in defæcation in the squatting position, since the soldiers were for the most part regularly attentive to the calls of nature.
I saw a good many cases of lightning stroke, and some were fatal. Sunstroke was not common, and, considering the heat, it was very remarkable how little the men suffered from this condition. This was no doubt in part attributable to the absence of the possibility of getting alcoholic drinks, but it is not common for any one in South Africa to suffer in this way, probably as a result of the continuous nature of the sunshine.
In spite of the labours of hospital surgeons at home, it was rather instructive to see the number of men who suffered with hernia, varicocele, and varicose veins to a sufficient degree to necessitate going to the base. The experience quite sufficed to explain the trouble which is taken to prevent men with these complaints entering the service.
GENERAL CONSIDERATION OF THE NUMBER OF MEN KILLED AND WOUNDED
I will now pass to the question of the proportionate frequency with which the men were killed or wounded during the present campaign. I propose to take only one series of battles, with which I was personally acquainted throughout, to illustrate this point. This seems the more satisfactory course to follow, since the number of casualties is still undergoing continuous gradual increase, and besides this the warfare has assumed a peculiar and irregular form, statistics from which scarcely possess general application.
The battles included, those of the first Kimberley Relief Force, were fought under fair average conditions as to the nature of the ground. In the first two the defending enemy occupied heights, in the two following the ground advanced over by our men was comparatively even; thus at Modder River there was only a gradual slope upwards, and at Magersfontein the advanced trenches of the Boers were only slightly above the level of the ground over which the advance was made. At the same time, at the latter battle a great number of the Boers engaged were on the sides of the hill well above the advanced trenches. In no case were the Boers in such a position as to have to fire upwards, to them a considerable advantage. It must also be noted that throughout the Boers were able to rest their rifles; hence the fire should have been at any rate of an average degree of accuracy. In the advances of our own men, anthills and stones were practically the only cover to be obtained, and little or no help was given by variations in the general surface. All these points seem to favour a large proportional number of hits on the part of the riflemen. I very much regret that I am unable to say what was the proportional number of shell wounds among the men hit, but I can say with some confidence that among the wounded it was not as great as ten per cent. I should be inclined to place it as low as five per cent. Again, I cannot fix the proportionate occurrence of wounds from bullets of large calibre such as the Martini-Henry, but this was certainly not large. I think if ten per cent. is deducted to represent the number of hits from either of these forms of projectile, that we may fairly assume the remaining 90 per cent. of the wounds to have been produced by bullets of small calibre. The numbers of the opposing forces were probably fairly even.
Taking all these circumstances together, and bearing in mind that our army was always in the position of having to make frontal attacks on men well protected in strong positions, I think it must be allowed that a fair idea should be possible of the effectiveness of the modern weapons. Only one circumstance, one inseparable from any fighting with the Boers, seems to affect the numbers in an important manner. This consists in the fact that the Boer rarely fights to the bitter end, hence the greater proportion of his hits are obtained at long distances.
Table I. gives the number of men engaged, and also that of the killed and wounded at each of four battles. Table III. shows for comparison the relative number of killed and wounded in some former campaigns while older forms of weapon were in use.
With regard to the numbers in Tables I. and II. it should be at once said that they are only to be regarded as approximate, since they do not exactly tally with those officially reported in the 'Times' at a later date. Sources of error may, however, have crept into both, and as there is little difference in the gross numbers, I have preferred to retain the series compiled by Major Burtchaell, R.A.M.C., as Table II. contains interesting information as to the proportionate number of men who died during the first 48 hours, after being wounded.
SHOWING PROPORTION OF MORTALITY AMONGST MEN HIT, (a) ON THE FIELD, (b) DURING THE FIRST FORTY-EIGHT HOURS
The high death rate among the officers will at once arrest attention, but this has been noticed in other campaigns, particularly in the Franco-German war. It is mainly attributable to the circumstance that the officers, as leading, are always in the front and most exposed position. I much doubt whether at the end of the campaign the entire abandonment of distinctive badges will be found to have had any very important result in decreasing the relative number of casualties as between officers and men. At close quarters distinctive uniform is no doubt a danger, but at the common ranges of 1,000 yards and upwards the enemy's fire is rather directed to cover a zone than to pick out individuals.
The especially high mortality among the officers at the battle of Graspan was attributable to the casualties among the naval officers, and the men of the brigade suffered most severely also.
It will be noted that the most expensive battles were those of Belmont and Magersfontein.
If the numbers of the men actually taking part in the fighting in these battles as given in Table I. are massed, we get an approximate total of 12,420.
Of this number, 1,959 or 15.06 per cent. were reported as killed, wounded, or missing. Thus: killed, 315 or 2.53 per cent.; wounded, 1,512 or 12.17 per cent.; missing, 132 or 1.06 per cent. Reference to Table III. shows that these percentages almost exactly correspond with those obtaining in the entire Crimean campaign, and are greater than those observed in the German army during the entire Franco-German campaign.
The mortality statistics given in Table II. are of great interest, since to those dying on the field are added all men dying within the first 48 hours in the Field hospitals. From the surgical point of view these men all received mortal injury, and are therefore properly included among the fatalities. Their inclusion, moreover, makes an appreciable difference in the percentage proportion of mortal injuries to wounds. Thus, if the numbers are massed (omitting the 'missing'), we find that in the four battles 1,827 men were hit, of whom 315, or 17.24 per cent., were killed. Among the wounded carried off the field, however, 49 received mortal injuries, and if these are added to the 315, we find that the proportion of mortal injuries reaches 19.92 per cent.
The proportion of men killed to those wounded was as follows: killed 315, wounded 1,512, or 1 to 4.8. If we add to the men killed on the field of battle the 49 dying in the next 48 hours, the proportion of fatalities is increased to 1 to 4.15. The higher of these proportions is certainly the surgically correct one.
With regard to the general accuracy of the numbers given above, a comparison of those published for the campaign up to September 15, 1900, is of value, as the two series substantially tally. Thus, up to that date, 17,072 men were hit, and of these 2,998 were killed. The proportion killed to wounded was therefore 1 to 4.69.
If it be borne in mind that of the wounded men included in Table I., 1.5 per cent. died later in the Base hospitals, the percentages are almost identical.
Table III. is inserted with a view to instituting a comparison between the number of casualties in the present and earlier campaigns.
For the purposes of this table it is necessary to take the approximate number of men at Lord Methuen's disposal, irrespective of their active participation in the fighting.
The result of this addition to the total is to show that the percentage of men killed and wounded was slightly lower than in the Crimean war, and nearly corresponded with that observed in the Franco-German campaign.
As it has been shown that our numbers correspond in general with those of the whole war up to September 15, 1900, there can be little doubt that the same ratios will be maintained to the close of the campaign.
On the face of the numbers, therefore, there is little ground for assuming that the change in the nature of the weapons has materially influenced the deadliness of warfare at all. This is capable of explanation on the ground that in the Crimea the battles were fought at much closer quarters, and hence the weapons of the time were as effective, or more so, than the present ones. That this increased distance between the combatants will always counterbalance the increased deadliness of the weapons in the future is more than probable, since the range of effectiveness has been increased both in rifle and in artillery fire. In the present campaign the effect of the latter was very noticeable, since the Boers were, as a rule, quickly displaced by shell fire, unless they were in especially favourable positions, and this although no great number of men was hit by the projectiles. Under these circumstances, except on some occasions, neither side derived all the advantage from the increased shooting powers of their rifles which might have been expected. To a lesser degree this will probably always be the case in the future.
In connection with these remarks, however, I would point to column 4 of Table III., as showing how difficult it is to draw definite deductions from any particular set of numbers alone. This column shows that in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877 all the percentages were practically doubled or more, and in the case of the number of men killed on the field of battle, the number was nearly five times as great as either in the Crimea or the present campaign. The explanation here depends on the race of men and their tenacity in resistance alone. In the case of either nation death in battle is little feared, and slight inclination to avoid it exists. When the theory of war held by the Boer--i.e. going out to shoot an enemy without incurring risk of being yourself shot--is borne in mind, the special circumstances attending the present campaign are sufficiently obvious to need little further remark. A future campaign in which the combatants are as equally well armed, but each side stands to the last, will probably give very different results.
It is unfortunate that no details can be given as to the influence of range in altering the relative numbers of killed to wounded. It may be stated, however, that in no instance did the percentage of killed to wounded reach 25 per cent. At the battle of Magersfontein it amounted to 19.26 per cent., at Colenso to 17.97 per cent., and at both these engagements there is little doubt that a considerable number of the men were hit within a distance of 1,000 yards. When the distances were very short the injuries were frequently multiple; and this character was a more common source of danger than increase of severity in the individual wounds received at a short range.
A short consideration of the circumstances especially influencing the ultimate mortality amongst the wounded subsequent to the reception of the injury is here necessary, although I shall be obliged to make my remarks as short as possible. The subject is best treated of under the two headings of Transport and Hospital Accommodation.
Transport.--The importance of transport is felt from the moment of the injury till the time of arrival of the patient in the mother country. To the surgeon it is of the same vital importance as the carrying of food for the troops is to the combatant general.
(a) Removal of the wounded from the field of battle. My experience was opposed to hurried action in this matter, although it is necessary to gather up the wounded before nightfall if possible. As a rule wounded men should not be removed from the field of battle under fire, at any rate when the troops are in open order at a range of 1,000 yards or more. I saw several instances in which mortal wounds were incurred by previously wounded men or their bearers during the process of removal, while it was astonishing how many scattered wounded men could lie out under a heavy fire and escape by the doctrine of chances. The erect position and small group necessary to bear off a wounded man at once draws a concentrated fire, if fighting is still proceeding.
As to the best and quickest method of removing the patients to the first dressing station, there were few occasions when this was not more satisfactorily done by bearers with stretchers than by wagons. The movement was more easy to the wounded men, and, as a rule, time was saved. Over rough ground the wagons travel slowly, and patients with only provisional splints were shaken undesirably. A stretcher party in my experience easily outstripped the wagon unless a road or very smooth veldt existed. A larger number of men is of course required, but I take it that on the occasion of a great war men are both more easily obtained and fed than are transport animals. From what I have been able to learn, both the Indian dhoolie-bearers and the hastily recruited Colonial bearer companies were most successful in the removal of the large number of wounded men from the field of Colenso. I had several opportunities of comparing the two methods on a smaller scale during the fighting in Orange River Colony, and felt very strongly in favour of the stretcher parties.
For removal of patients from one part of a hospital to another, or sometimes in loading trains, &c., great economy of men, and increased comfort to the patients, may be attained by the use of some form of ambulance trolly.
I append an illustration of what seemed to me the simplest and best I came across among several in use in South Africa. The description beneath is by Major McCormack, R.A.M.C., its inventor (fig. 5).
When wagons were necessary or preferable, the Indian Tongas (fig. 6), presented by Mr. Dhanjibhoy, were most useful; they carried two men lying down, the same number as the big service wagon, and were drawn by two ponies only. Although somewhat highly springed, the vehicle is so well arranged and padded, that the occupants are seldom hurt by striking against the sides with rough jolting, unless quite helpless. I occasionally made long journeys in this vehicle with much comfort.
[Illustration: FIG. 5.--The McCormack-Brook Wheeled Stretcher Carriage. It consists of an under-carriage built up of two light wheels with steel spokes and rims with rubber tyres and ball bearings; on the axle are two light elliptic springs, to which is attached a transverse seat for the stretcher-carrier proper. This is securely bolted on to the seat, and consists of two pieces of hard wood, suitably worked, and forming an angle frame. On the bottom side the stretcher poles rest, and the sides of the L formed by the carrier proper prevent most effectually any jerking or turning of the stretcher when once it has been laid in the carrier. The carrier is about thirty inches long, but can be increased to any length desired. It has been found that this length is admirably suited for all purposes. To prevent the stretcher from any lateral or upward movement, two buttons with tightening screws are attached to the top of the carrier on each side. When the stretcher is laid on the carrier the screws are tightened and the stretcher is held rigid.
Two iron supports are provided, one at each end and on opposite sides of the carrier. These are lowered when it is desired either to place the stretcher on the carriage or remove it therefrom, which can be effected in a second. The carriage meanwhile remains perfectly still. When the carriage is in motion the iron supports are turned up, and lie along the respective sides of the carrier, where each rests in a small clip. The great object of this stretcher carriage has been to obtain mobility, strength, and lightness combined with efficiency and a ready and easy means of transport for sick and wounded, no matter where a patient has to be transported from. The loaded stretcher and wheeled carriage can be readily handled by one man on good roads, and by two men in rough country. The springs prevent any jar being felt by the patient on the stretcher.]
(b) For the longer journeys to the Field or Stationary hospitals, the service wagon and other transport vehicles came into use, particularly the South African ox-wagon.
[Illustration: FIG. 6--Indian Tonga on the march. (Photo by Mr. Bowlby)]
The service wagon (fig. 7) is a heavy four-wheeled vehicle, drawn by ten mules. The good construction of the wagon was amply proved by the manner in which it stood the hard wear and tear of the present campaign. It is, however, very heavy, and in comparison with its size affords very small accommodation. Two lying-down patients and six sitting is its entire capacity. Some modified patterns were in use, notably those with the Irish and Imperial Yeomanry Field Hospitals, capable of carrying four lying-down cases, the men being arranged in two tiers. Major Hale, R.A.M.C., made a very successful trek from Rhenoster to Kroonstadt with some of these, carrying twice the regulation number of lying-down cases in his wagons. Some modification in the mode of fixation is, however, necessary to increase the security of the stretchers of the upper series.
A really satisfactory wagon, combining both strength and comfort, still remains to be devised.
[Illustration: FIG. 7.--Service Ambulance Wagon, the six front mules removed.
(Photo by Mr. C. S. Wallace)]
During the later stages of the campaign, a very large number of patients were transported by the South African ox- or mule- (buck) wagons. Although not of prepossessing appearance, and unprovided with any sort of springs, these vehicles were far from unsatisfactory. The ox-wagon consists of a long simple platform, 19 ft. 2 in. in length, 4 ft. 6 in. in width, from the sides of which a slanting board rises over the wheels for the posterior two-thirds. These bulwarks increase the actual width to 6 ft. 6 in., which corresponds with the gross width occupied by the wheels. One third is covered by a small hood 5 ft. 6 in. in height erected on wooden stave hoops. The latter was often absent in transport wagons. The two hind wheels are large, the fore somewhat smaller. They are attached to very heavy wooden cross-beams bearing the axles, and the two beams are connected by a longitudinal bar, continuous with the düssel boom or pole. This latter bar is in two sections, the connection of which allows considerable play in the long axis and serves to break the jolts occurring when either pair of wheels passes over uneven spots on the ground. When some sacks of oats or hay were spread over the floor the wounded men travelled comparatively comfortably in these wagons, the great distance between the fore and hind wheels tending to minimise the jolting. The principal objection to them was the slow pace of the oxen, and the fact that to obtain the greatest amount of work from these animals a major part of the journey must be performed during the night. The ox-wagon carries, with comfort, four lying-down cases on stretchers, or six without stretchers; or twenty sitting-up cases.
[Illustration: FIG. 8.--South African Wagon, loaded with patients, and mule transport. (Photo by Mr. C. S. Wallace)]
The mule- or buck-wagon, which is of the same class but smaller, can only accommodate two stretchers, four lying-down men without stretchers, or 12-14 sitting-up cases. As a rule, the wagons were loaded with recumbent cases in the centre, while more slightly wounded men sat around, and were able to give help to those lying down when needed. The wagons can be covered with canvas throughout.
The steady even pace of the oxen is a great advantage, and I was often surprised to see how well men bore transport in these wagons, who seemed utterly unfit to be moved had it not been an absolute necessity. A very large number of the wounded from Paardeberg Drift were transported to Modder River in them.
One other advantage of these wagons, the possibility of converting them into an excellent laager, is not to be underrated. Any one who saw the comfortable encampment which a naval contingent on the march made by massing the wagons with intervals covered by macintosh sheets, could at once appreciate their capabilities for a long trek.
Traction engines were, as far as I know, never employed as a means of transporting the sick. The tendency of these heavy machines to stick in the mud and to break down bridges is so well known that it hardly needs mention. Putting these disadvantages on one side, with a supply of fuel ensured, and such roads as are afforded by a civilised country, a great future is probably before this means of transport for the wounded. A large number of patients might be carried at an even pace, and the camps would be saved all the trouble and worry of the transport animals.
Trains.--In many cases in Natal, and in a few instances on the western side, the wounded men were able to be transferred from the first dressing station directly into the trains. Space will not allow me to describe any of those in use, but the accompanying illustration shows the general arrangement of the beds in Nos. 2 and 3 trains (fig. 9). The carriages were converted from ordinary bogie wagons of the Cape Government Railway stock under the supervision of Colonel Supple, R.A.M.C., P.M.O. of the Base at Cape Town. Each train was provided with accommodation for two medical officers, two nursing Sisters, orderlies, a kitchen, and a dispensary, and each carried some 120 patients. The trains were under the charge of Major Russell, R.A.M.C., and Dr. Boswell (and later other civilian medical officers) and of Captain Fleming, R.A.M.C., D.S.O., and Mr. Waters, and carried many thousand patients from all parts of the country to the Base and Station hospitals. They were most admirably worked, and seemed to offer little scope for improvement except in minor details. To them much of the success in the treatment of the wounded who had to traverse the immense distances incident to South Africa must be attributed. I made many pleasant journeys in each of them. Later, two additional trains, Nos. 4 and 5, of a similar nature, were added. Two trains, No. 1, and the Princess Christian train, which I was not fortunate enough to see, performed similar duties for Natal.
[Illustration: FIG. 9.--Interior of one of the Wagons of No. 2 Hospital Train]
Hospital Ships.--These were numerous and some especially well arranged. Fig. 10 is of the 'Simla,' a P. & O. vessel which was admirably adapted to the requirements of a hospital ship. On her main deck some 250 patients were accommodated in a series of wards all on the same level, which much lightened the difficulties of service usually experienced. During the present campaign the abundance of transport vessels rendered the transhipment of patients to England a matter of comparative ease, and good vessels were always available. Considering the constant transhipment of invalids from India and our other colonial possessions, it would seem advisable that, in place of having to hurriedly improvise hospital ships, the Government should possess two or three hospital ships of the 'Simla' type. It is true this would deprive our naval transport officers of a duty which in this war was performed with extraordinary celerity and success; thus the 'Simla' was fitted in seven days, and sailed with a cargo of invalids ten days after her arrival at Durban; but on the other hand it would ensure that really suitable vessels were always provided.
[Illustration: FIG. 10.--P. & O. Hospital Ship 'Simla' in Durban Harbour]
To give some idea of the amount of work contingent on the transport of wounded men from an army of some 15,000, fighting its way against continued opposition, I will quote the approximate number of men moved during Lord Methuen's advance from Orange River to Magersfontein. (The number of men actually present at each battle is shown in Table I., p. 12.)
Belmont, the first battle, was fought on November 23.
November 24.--No. 2 hospital train removed 152 cases to the Stationary Field hospitals at Orange River, then returned and loaded up with 130 more. Some of the most severe cases in the latter were detrained at Orange River, and the remainder were taken direct to Wynberg (591-1/2 miles).
The division marched, and the battle of Graspan was fought during the day.
November 26.--A train of specially constructed trucks brought 90 of the less severe cases, including 20 Boers, to Orange River.
November 27.--The division marched, and in the morning No. 3 hospital train removed 80 severe cases from the Field hospitals direct to Wynberg.
November 28.--Battle of Modder River.
November 29.--339 patients, including a few sick, and some wounded Boers, were sent down to Orange River in open trucks with impromptu shelters made with rifles and blankets.
Later, 97 severe cases were sent down in ordinary carriages, of which some had doors sawn out to admit lying-down patients.
December 10.--The division marched, and on the next day the battle of Magersfontein was fought.
December 11.--Nos. 2 and 3 trains were loaded up during the night and early morning of the 12th, in part from the Field hospitals, in part directly from the Ambulance wagons. During the day of the 12th, No. 3 train made three journeys to Orange River, and No. 2 was sent direct to Wynberg.
In all some 800 patients needed transport; they were picked up by 10 ambulance wagons and 5 buck wagons for slighter cases and the two bearer companies sent out from Modder River. On the 12th Lord Methuen sent out a number of bearers with stretchers, and at 12 noon all the wounded were collected, but many had lain out through the night. The bearers had to retire under a shell fire kept up by the Boers as long as our army was within range of their position.
Four Field hospitals were present, but only that of the IX. Brigade at Modder River was so situated as to be of general use. This hospital, under the command of Major Harris, R.A.M.C., did an immense amount of work most expeditiously and with great success.
The nature of the advance on Kimberley necessitated the evacuation of the Field hospitals with extreme promptitude, as the troops were in constant action, and the arrangements for this were carried out with great success by Colonel Townsend, the P.M.O. of the First Division.
The amount of fighting far exceeded anything that had been expected, and the Stationary hospitals on the lines of communication at Orange River and De Aar were unable to cope with the number of severe cases thrown on their hands, with the constant possibility of new arrivals. Hence a number of severe cases had to be sent direct to Wynberg.
This experience strongly illustrated the necessity of possessing Stationary hospitals of greater mobility and a higher degree of equipment than the service at present possesses. In these a large number of severe cases could have been retained, and only the slighter ones exposed to the fatigue and general disadvantage of transport. In South Africa very special difficulties existed in the length of the line of communication, the single line of rails, and the absence of any source of supply within 500 to 600 miles; but in any other country mobile Stationary hospitals, although more easily equipped, would be equally valuable.
The difficulties of transport experienced in the advance of the Kimberley Relief Force were many times multiplied in that upon Bloemfontein, since the whole of the severely wounded men had to be sent back thirty to forty miles to the railway. The ambulance accommodation on the occasion of this march, although, if untouched, proportionately smaller than that possessed by Lord Methuen, was reduced to one-fifth to meet the exigencies of warfare. Beyond this the equipment transport of the Field hospitals was reduced from four ox-wagons to two, and the Scotch cart was cut off, only two ox-wagons and the two water-carts being allowed. This greatly hampered the Field hospitals on the march, and when they arrived at Bloemfontein and had to undertake the work of Stationary hospitals, their efficiency was seriously impaired. Again, on the advance from Bloemfontein to Kroonstadt many of the Field hospitals were unable to accompany their respective divisions, not alone on account of the number of patients remaining in them, but also because the mule transport had been otherwise employed for military purposes.
The transport of the ambulances and hospitals stands in a very special position. As far as my experience went, neither ambulances nor hospitals were ever taken or retained by the Boers, and consequently the transport animals originally devoted to this purpose should have been held sacred to it.
Hospitals.--Accommodation for the wounded was provided under canvas in the Field hospitals, also in the large General hospitals. Beyond this iron huts were erected in many of the Base and Station hospitals. At Capetown, Maritzburg, and Ladysmith barrack huts were modified and equipped as hospitals, and in towns such as Bloemfontein, Kimberley, and Johannesburg large civil hospitals were at our disposal. Beyond these sources of accommodation, churches, schools, public institutions, and private houses were made use of in the smaller towns.
As to the broad question of canvas v. buildings, experience amply showed that in a climate such as is possessed by South Africa, canvas affords the greater advantages. The hospitals are more mobile, more readily extended, and the more healthy. Except under unusual conditions of rain and dust, the patients did excellently in the tents.
Rain and dust were occasionally most troublesome, especially when combined with wind. I once saw a whole hospital, fortunately unoccupied, levelled to the ground in the course of some twenty minutes. Under such circumstances iron huts present advantages, and were on many occasions utilised with much success. They are readily erected, and it would have been a considerable improvement if a number of them had been ready for use at the earliest part of the campaign. Except in the matter of weight, they possess in a considerable degree the advantage of mobility possessed by canvas, and in addition they offer much more protection from the weather. On the other hand, they are more liable to become unhealthy from prolonged use.
Churches and public institutions were mainly troublesome from the necessity of having to improvise sanitary arrangements, and sometimes the disadvantage of the collection of a large number of men in one chamber could not be avoided. None the less I cannot look back without admiration on the temporary hospitals established in the Raadzaal at Bloemfontein, and the Irish hospital in the Palace of Justice in Pretoria.
The State schools in the smaller towns of the Orange River Colony also afforded excellent accommodation as small temporary hospitals.
Private houses, possessing the disadvantages of ill-adapted construction and the necessity of a considerably increased staff to work them, were on the whole little used as hospitals. The scattered farmhouses occasionally afforded shelter to very severely wounded men. In most of the country I traversed, however, the farms were so wide apart as to be of little use in this respect; and again, under the special circumstances, patients left in them might have to be abandoned to the enemy.
The chief interest during the campaign centred in the working of the Field and General hospitals.
Two types of Field hospital were employed, one the Home, the other the Indian. The latter differs from the Home in that in it the bearer company is attached and consists of Indian natives, and that the hospital is separable into four sections in place of two only.
The amalgamation of the Field hospital and bearer company into one unit is much to be desired in the Home service, both for economy of working and the more equal distribution of duties to the medical officers engaged. Again the divisibility of the hospital into four sections is also an advantage. It allows of the advance or the leaving of sections, in the case of either small expeditions or the presence of a number of severely wounded men unfit to travel. As far as I could judge, it necessitates very small addition to the present equipment, and is in every way desirable.
As to the working of the Field hospitals in the present campaign, it was universally acknowledged to possess a very high degree of excellence. The equipment, with small exceptions, proved equal to the demands made upon it. The mobility of the camps was proved again and again, and the rules governing their administration evidenced by their effectiveness the care and experience which have been bestowed on the organisation of the hospitals.
It is difficult for any one who has not had an opportunity of observing the actual amount of work performed in the Field hospitals either to appreciate the storm and stress following an important engagement when the wounded men are first brought in, or the demands that are made on the powers of the medical officers in charge. To a civilian the first feeling is one of impotence, followed by an attempt to see no further than the case under immediate observation, and to nurture the conviction that the work is to be got through if it is only stuck to. I gathered that this first impression was absent in the minds of the officers in charge of the Field hospitals, as work commenced at once, and was carried on without intermission during the persistence of daylight, in the winter often by the aid of lanterns, and eventually the huge task was accomplished. In early days at Orange River work commenced at 4 A.M., and was steadily continued until 6 P.M. or later, and this state of things persisted sometimes for many days together.
The officers of the Field hospitals, the bearer companies, and those doing regimental duty carried out their duties with a calmness and efficiency which not only impressed observers like myself, but also excited the admiration of our German colleagues sent by their government to observe the working of the British system.
I saw on several occasions the German and Dutch ambulances, and was much struck by the excellence of their equipment. In some details there was much to be learned from them, especially in the matter of appliances, dressings, and instruments. The Dutch ambulance I saw at Brandfort had a complete installation of acetylene gas, which was carried, gasometer and all, in one Scotch cart. They were, however, really designed to fill the combined position of our Field, Stationary, and General hospitals, and when it became necessary for them to move about frequently, the inferior mobility they possessed in comparison with our own Field hospitals was at once demonstrated.
The large General hospitals of 500 beds were a great feature in the campaign. Although designed and organised some time since, the present was the first occasion on which they have come into general use, and they may be said to have actually been on trial. The organisation of these hospitals proved itself excellent, and in the case of the best of them left little to be desired.
In some cases the accommodation was temporarily strained enormously, and the number of patients was extended beyond more than three times the regulation limit. The additional patients were then accommodated in marquees and bell tents, according to the nature of their diseases. Under these circumstances the working of the hospitals was difficult, and the officers both of the R.A.M.C. and the civilian surgeons were placed at a great disadvantage.
My space does not allow me to give any description of the general arrangement of these hospitals, but I would suggest that a certain number of them should be so modified as to increase their mobility and allow of their being more readily utilised as Stationary hospitals.
During the whole campaign it seemed to me that the Stationary hospitals (that is to say, the hospitals necessary to receive patients when the Field hospitals were rapidly evacuated), were those in which some increased uniformity of organisation was most needed.
It scarcely needs to be pointed out that this is the most difficult link of the whole hospital chain to be uniformly well organised and equipped. It is needed at short notice, and often for a short period, and it is difficult to maintain a regular staff of officers ready for any emergency without keeping a certain number of men idle.
The conversion of Field hospitals to Stationary purposes is undesirable, as the troops move with only a regulation number of the former, which under ordinary circumstances is the minimum that may be necessary.
Stationary hospitals as individual units are undesirable for the reasons above given.
[Illustration: FIG. 11.--Type of a General Hospital (No. VIII. Bloemfontein) extended by use of bell tents in the distance. (Photo by Mr. C. S. Wallace)]
The difficulty might be met by increasing the mobility of a certain number of the General hospitals, by making them divisible into five sections, each of which should be able to move independently, and to the last of which should be attached the heavy part of the equipment, such as the iron huts for operating and X-ray rooms, kitchens, store sheds, &c. The tents might also be lightened by the substitution of the tortoise tent for the service marquee. The tortoise tent is lighter (360 as against 500 lbs.), easily pitched and moved, and holds at least two more patients with ease. The capabilities of this tent were amply proven during its use by the Portland, Irish, and other civil hospitals attached to the army. It withstood wind and weather, the former better than the service marquee. Figs. 11 and 12 show the appearance of camps composed of the two varieties. I must admit a warm preference for the appearance of the service pattern, but I think it is indubitable that the other is the more useful.
Given the possibility of division of a General hospital in this manner, single sections could readily be sent up the lines of communication to serve as Stationary hospitals at various points behind the advance of the troops, and on the cessation of active need, the sections could be reunited at any point to form an advanced Base hospital. The sections could be kept in touch throughout by visits from the officer of the lines of communication. This would appear a ready means of providing well-organised Stationary hospitals at short notice, and would save the disadvantage of a definitely separate series.
[Illustration: FIG. 12.--Type of Tortoise Tent Hospital. Portland Hospital, Bloemfontein. (Photo by Mr. C. S. Wallace)]
Such hospitals might have been used on many occasions when the transport of an entire General hospital was an impossibility. The service, moreover, has some experience in this direction, since at one time No. 3 General Hospital was divided into two definite sections.
Bearing in mind the extreme readiness and promptitude with which the officers during the present campaign extended the accommodation of either Field or General hospitals, one of such sections as are proposed might readily be made far more capacious than its regulation number would suggest.
My duties being entirely in connection with the service hospitals, I did not become intimately acquainted with any of the volunteer hospitals which did such excellent service, except the Portland, to the staff of which I was indebted for much hospitality and kindness. This hospital was practically of about the capacity proposed for the above-mentioned sections, and the report of its work will no doubt furnish many points of detail as to equipment, &c., which may be useful.
The general results of the surgical work done during the campaign were excellent, and taken as a whole the occurrence of any severe form of septic disease was unusual.
Pure septicæmia, especially in connection with abdominal injuries, severe head injuries and secondary to acute traumatic osteo-myelitis, was the form most commonly seen. Pyæmia with secondary deposits was uncommon, and often of a somewhat subacute form; thus I saw several patients recover after secondary abscesses had been opened, or the primary focus of infection removed. The only really acute case of joint pyæmia I heard of, developed in connection with a blistered toe followed by cellulitis of the foot.
Cutaneous erysipelas I never happened to see, and really acute phlegmonous inflammation was rare.
I may mention the occurrence of acute traumatic gangrene in two cases. This developed in each instance with gunshot fracture of the femur; in one amputation was performed, and the process extended upwards on to the abdomen. The cases occurred with the army in the field in the neighbourhood of Thaba-nchu and not in a stationary hospital.
Acute traumatic tetanus occurred only in one instance to my knowledge. In this case the primary injury was a shell wound of the thigh, and the patient developed the disease and died within ten days.
To the civil surgeon the performance of operations, and the dressing of severe wounds at the front, proved on occasions a somewhat trying ordeal.
When operations were necessary in the field, during the daytime, it was often possible to perform them in the open air, provided tolerable protection could be obtained from the sun. A number of cases were so operated upon during the march of the Highland Brigade from Wynberg to Heilbron, and gave excellent results, the patients deriving considerable benefit from the early cleansing and closure of the wounds.
[Illustration: FIG. 13.--Tortoise Hospital Tent. Portland Hospital. (Photo by Mr. C. S. Wallace)]
In camp, in the Field, or Stationary hospitals, the difficulties were often much greater. The operations were necessarily performed under shelter for reasons of privacy. In the tents the draught carrying the dust from the camp was one of the commonest troubles. The exclusion of dust was impossible, and it not only found its way into open wounds, but permeated bandages with ease. Often when a bandage was removed, an even layer of dust moistened by perspiration covered the whole area included with a coating of mud. Again, in dust storms a similar layer of mud sometimes covered the whole of the exposed parts of the bodies of patients lying on the ground in the tents.
It is of some interest to remark with regard to this dust, that Dr. L. L. Jenner lately kindly examined a specimen collected at Modder River after the camp had been more than two months established, and discovered no pathogenic organisms in it. As a period of seven months had elapsed since this dust was collected, the fact is of no practical import, beyond showing that, if such organisms had existed, at any rate they were not of a resistent nature.
Insects, particularly common house-flies, were an intolerable pest at times. In a fresh camp they were sometimes not abundant, but after two or three days they multiplied enormously. Not only hospital tents, but living and mess tents, swarmed with them, the canvas appearing positively black at night. Even when dressing a wound, without unceasing passage of the hand across the part, it was impossible to keep them from settling, and during operations the nuisance was much greater.
Storms of rain were occasionally as troublesome as, though perhaps less harmful than, those of dust. On one occasion a whole Field hospital was flooded only a few hours after a number of important operations had been performed, and the patients were practically washed out of the tents. It was somewhat remarkable that none of the men suffered any serious ill as a result.
At times the temperature was sufficiently high to make either dressing or operating a most exhausting process to the surgeon. The heat of the day was not on the whole so disadvantageous from the point of view of the operator, as the cold of the nights during the winter in Orange River Colony. On one or two occasions serious operations had to be left undone, as it was only possible to consider them in camp, where, as we arrived at night only, the temperature was too low to justify the necessary exposure.
Water for use at operations was often a great difficulty. Even at Orange River, where, though muddy, the water was wholesome, it was impossible to get water suitable for operations unless it had previously gone through the complicated processes of precipitation by alum, boiling, and filtration. At Orange River a small room in the house of one of the railway servants was obtained and fitted as a rough operating room by the Royal Engineers. The necessary utensils were provided by Colonel Young, Commissioner of the Red Cross Societies. Here a stock of prepared water was kept for emergencies.
The remaining difficulties mainly consisted in those we are familiar with in civil practice, such as the securing of suitable assistance in the handling of instruments and dressing, when the rush of work was very great.
At the Base hospitals accommodation for operating in properly equipped rooms obviated many of the difficulties above referred to.
In concluding this introduction I should sum up in a few words my experience of the general working of the hospital system during my stay in South Africa.
The excellence of the Field hospitals for their purpose has been already alluded to, and, as far as I could ascertain, won the confidence and approval of patients, military commanders, and civilians such as myself.
The Stationary hospitals (by which I intend to indicate those receiving the patients directly from the Field hospitals before the establishment of advanced Base hospitals), as already indicated, were not in my opinion so perfectly conceived or organised. The requirements of these are, however, far greater than those of the Field hospitals, and they of all others are dependent on the possession of facilities for rapid transport. In South Africa the difficulties of supplying them were enormous, and no doubt the conditions of the campaign in this, as so many other particulars, were novel and unusual. None the less the experience gained will no doubt be utilised in the future. With regard to the extravagant criticisms levelled at the Field hospitals serving as Stationary hospitals at the time of the early period of the occupation of Bloemfontein, it may be pointed out that the only proper ground for comparison was not between the patients at Bloemfontein and those in hospital at the base, but between the men in hospital and those in the field at that time, since the conditions were equally adverse to both. Besides, it must not be forgotten that a large proportion of the patients, at that time, were really comfortably housed in the Raadzaal and other buildings, the preparation of which entailed a very great amount of both labour and resource.
The difficulties experienced at that time will, it is hoped, go far towards securing greater facilities and rights of transport to the Royal Army Medical Corps in the future. As a civilian, one cannot but recognise that the conditions of modern warfare are much altered from those of the past. Prisoners are well cared for and kindly treated, the sick and wounded are respected by both sides, and except in the actual horrors of fighting the condition of the soldier is a happier one. Under these circumstances the limitation of the transport facilities of a department so closely concerned with the well-being of all, and which has been organised on a most moderate scale, must soon become a tradition of the past in civilised armies.
As to the efficiency of the organisation of the General hospitals, either at the advanced or actual base, I have already testified. Naturally the working of these hospitals varied with the personal equation of the officer in charge of them, but as a whole the service has every reason to be proud of their success. As far as surgical results are concerned, and with these I had special acquaintance, the success of the hospitals was amply demonstrated.
Adverse criticism was not however wanting, and often expressed in the strongest terms by persons totally unacquainted with hospital methods, and apparently unconscious that such excellence as is exhibited in a London hospital is the result of continuous work and development for some centuries, and that such institutions are worked by committees and staffs of permanent constitution.
The proportion of female nurses employed in these hospitals underwent steady increase from the commencement of the campaign, and the immense value of the nursing reserve was fully proved. There is no doubt that in Base hospitals the actual nursing should always be entrusted to women.
The demands of the campaign necessitated the employment of a large number of civil surgeons in the various hospitals. These gentlemen accommodated themselves with true British aptitude to the conditions under which they were placed, and in all positions their sterling work contributed in no small degree to the success that was attained.
One class of hospital still remains for mention. I refer to the improvised hospitals prepared in the Boer towns prior to the British occupation. They were met with in all the smaller towns, and also in the larger ones such as Johannesburg and Pretoria.
The Burke hospital in Pretoria, started by a private citizen and his daughter, and the Victoria hospital in Johannesburg, presided over by Dr. and Mrs. Murray, were two of the largest, but each and all deserve due recognition.
I am sure that many of our wounded officers and men who were cared for in these hospitals while prisoners in the hands of the Boers, will never lose their sense of gratitude to those inhabitants who spared no effort to render their position as happy as possible under the circumstances; and the existence of these hospitals was no small boon to the service when called upon to take charge of the sick and wounded therein contained.
I cannot close this chapter without recognition of the immensity of the task which has fallen on the Royal Army Medical Corps in the treatment of the sick and wounded during the course of the campaign and full appreciation of the manner in which that task has been met. The strain thrown upon this department of the service, originally organised for the needs of an army less than half the magnitude of that eventually taking the field, was incalculably great, and the medical profession may well be proud of the efforts made by its military representatives to do the best possible work under the circumstances.
 3,328 men of the IX. Brigade present are not included, as they never came into action.
 The high mortality was due to deaths amongst the officers of the Naval Brigade.
 To obtain this total the numbers of killed, wounded, and missing, after the three earlier battles, have been massed, and added to the total number of men known to have taken part in the battle of Magersfontein. The inaccuracy dependent on the fact that some of the men reported as wounded or missing in the earlier battles had already returned to their regiments, and are included in the total of 11,447, must be disregarded.
 Numbers quoted from Fischer, Handbuch der Kriegschirurgie, vol. i. p. 22, 1882.