The British Sector of the Western Front (Historic environment)

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  • The British Sector of the Western Front, 1914-1918, (Historic environment)
    • The Western Front- the trenches
      • Battles
        • First Battle of Ypres (Oct- Nov 1914)= British maintain hold on British channel but Germans gain ground
        • Battle on Hill 60 (Apr 1915)= British tunnel under and explode mines then take hill
        • Second Battle of Ypres (Apr-May 1915)= first use of chlorine gas
        • Third Battle of Ypres (Jul-Nov 1917)= use of creeping barrage, weather means waterlogged and drowning
        • The Somme (Jul-Nov 1916)= extremely high casualties on both sides
        • Arras (Apr-May 1917)= use of tunnels caves, quarries and shelters, enormous casualties on both sides
        • Cambrai (Nov-Dec 1917)= first large scale use of tanks
      • Trenches were built in a zig-zag pattern
      • dugouts were used by troops to take cover
      • frontline was where attacks were launched
      • reserve trench was where troops were stationed for counter attacks
      • trenches were muddy and overcrowded (made worse with weather)
    • Injuries and illnesses
      • Gas attacks cause blindness and coughing
        • lead to creation of gas masks
      • Head injuries
        • lead to soft caps changed for helmets
        • require brain surgery or facial reconstruction
      • Shell shock lead to mental illness
        • some saw this as cowardice
      • Trench fever caused by lice
        • lead to soldiers being deloused
      • Trench foot caused by standing in waterlogged trenches
        • lead to soldiers having spare socks and pumps used to deal with water
      • Shrapnel caused major internal injuries
      • Tetanus and gangrene bacteria from soil infecting wounds lead to injections being given
    • RAMC and FANY
      • volunteers used for driving ambulances, cooking & cleaning
      • problems
        • difficult terrain
        • roads and railway destroyed
        • shelling and artillery made it difficult to recover
        • not enough ways of transport
      • chain of evacuation
        • regimental aid post= near frontline to administer first aid(serious injuries sent to next stage)
          • Dressing stations= set up in dug outs to look after men for a week (serious cases sent to next stage)
            • Casual clearing stations= larger and better equipped with medical staff for cases with a chance of survival
              • Base hospitals= situated near the ports to either be sent home or to the trenches
    • Medicine in the early 20th century
      • Wilhelm Roentgen saw some rays could pass through the body to produce and image
        • helped diagnose embedded objects and bone problems
        • problems
          • x-rays took a long time
          • high doses of radiation caused hair loss
          • large machines were too heavy to move
      • doctors carried out blood transfusions from animals to humans (low survival rate)
        • Blundell performed first human to human transfusion
          • Karl Landsteiner discovered blood groups (transfusions worked with blood groups)
      • aseptic surgery
        • theatres and wards cleaned
        • surgeons and nurses wear sterilised clothing
        • surgical instruments steamed clean
        • rubber gloves used
    • Medical advances
      • aseptic & antiseptic surgery could not be used on battle field
      • chemicals couldn't be used against gas gangrene
      • sterilised salt solution more effective
        • didn't work on deep injuries
          • limb would need to be amputated
      • blood loss lead to shcok
        • Lewisohn saw that sodium citrate stopped blood clotting
          • Rous and Turner added citrate glucose to store longer
      • Thomas Splint used to reduce death by broken limbs by keeping leg rigid reducing blood loss
      • advances in surgery (facial reconstruction lead by Harold Gillies)
      • x-rays help locate shrapnel and bullets (made easier with mobile machines)

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