Book Review: Wounded: A New History of the Western Front in World War I


by Emily Mayhew

Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. Pp. x, 276. Illus., maps., chron., notes, biblio., index. $29.95. ISBN: 0199322457

Getting the Wounded "From Battlefield to Blighty" in the Great War

Mayhew, who has done extensive work in military medicine, gives us an excellent account of the process by British wounded troops got “From Battlefield to Blighty," to use the original, and more appropriate, sub-title from the 2013 British edition. 

Rather than a dry, administrative treatment, Mayhew takes the experiences of real men and women to explain both how medical services evolved during the war and the experience of the wounded. She deals with the recovery of wounded men from the battlefield, the preliminary treatment they received at a regimental clearing station, and then their movement to surgical hospital in the rear area. From there, she discusses how wounded troops were moved by ambulance train and steamer, and so on back to Britain, if they survived.  

At she recounts each step in this process, Mayhew uses the experiences of  four soldiers who were wounded, including John Glubb, later the famous commander of the Arab Legion, as well as those of many stretcher bearers, regimental medical officers, surgeons, nurses, orderlies, chaplains, and volunteers, both men and women, some of whom themselves were wounded or killed, and some of whom earned the highest decorations.   Mayhew also gives us a great deal information about the nature of combat and the weapons, and naturally much about wounds and medical procedures, and the evolution of military medicine in the war .

A valuable addition to the literature of the Great War,  Wounded is sensitive, very readable, and informative even for the seasoned student of the war.

Note: Wounded is also available in paperback, $26.95, ISBN 978-0-1904-5444-9, and as an e-Pub and audiobook.


Reviewer: A.A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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