A US medic tends Germans on the Italian front

Saving lives at the Italian front!. An infantryman has fallen and a medic is right there to help him. Working swiftly, under the enemy fire, the medic applies an emergency dressing on the soldier wounded in the head.

By 8:00pm I am in a barn on a mountain ridge. There is no defilade, but at least I have a roof over my head. I wouldn’t stay here if the weather were clear. Visibility today is only about two hundred yards, and if the Krauts want to shoot us up, they must do so by map. I am directly behind our troops, which are once again having a rough time.




The casualties mount inside Oosterbeek

A paratrooper takes cover as a jeep burns during a German mortar attack on 1st Airborne Division's HQ at the Hartenstein Hotel in Oosterbeek, 24 September 1944.

‘How is it with you ?’ I shouted. He shouted back ‘My leg is broken.’ I wriggled my own injured leg about. It worked. Something would now have to be done about his. There was a dull, singing little pain in my middle, as perhaps the nose cap of whatever it was that had burst had bounced up and hit me there. I looked around the safe and friendly little trench, reluctant to leave it for the chill, hostile world outside.




War’s grim reality – in the ‘Divisional Area’, Italy

A patient wounded in the leg is given a blood transfusion in the Operating Theatre of an Advanced Dressing Station while a plaster bandage is applied to his leg.

A few nights later I was conducted through one of the wards, an experience I never wish to repeat. There were twenty or more men in that ward and all were unconscious. Many of the beds were steeply tilted, some bodies suspended on wires in strange positions and connected to tubes. They were all enclosed in white mosquito nets stretching to the ceiling, seemingly caught in ghastly cobweb.




‘Tallboy’ bombs hit the Saumur Tunnel

A 12,000-lb MC bomb

I also got to use penicillin for the first time. We had these little tin cans that looked like salt shakers. They contained a mixture of penicillin and, I’m sure, sulfathiazole, and we would just use them like salt shakers and sprinkle it into the wounds. And I’ve read since, that it was that mixture of sulfa and penicillin used in those early days that saved many a limb and kept infections down to almost zero. They were both miracle drugs.




Chindits: British forced to shoot their wounded

Chindit Operations - General: A railway bridge behind Japanese lines is blown up by Chindits

The doctor said, ‘l’ve got another thirty on ahead, who can be saved, if we can carry them.’ The rain clattered so loud on the bamboo that I could hardly hear what he said. ‘These men have no chance. They’re full of morphia. Most of them have bullet and splinter wounds beside what you can see. Not one chance at all, sir, I give you my word of honour. Look, this man’s died already, and that one. None can last another two hours, at the outside.