The war on wounds

Henry GrayTom Scotland  assesses the contribution of Aberdeen surgeon Henry Gray to wound management and orthopaedic surgery during World War I

Wounds sustained during the First World War in France and Flanders were filthy. They were associated with soft tissue destruction and contaminated by fragments of shell casing, shrapnel balls, bullets, clothing and soil from the richly manured fields. Many men died from overwhelming infection. Scottish surgeon Henry Gray pioneered wound excision. As a result of his innovative treatment many limbs and lives were saved.

Time capsule found at museum

time capsuleBuilders unearth ‘snuff tin’ of artefacts buried a century ago by workers renovating the Playfair Building

A team of builders currently working on the redevelopment of the College’s Surgeons’ Hall Museum got a surprise when they discovered a 105-year-old time capsule buried under the iconic Playfair Building.

Scheduled to reopen in autumn 2015, the museum had not been radically altered since 1908 and it would seem that the Edwardian construction workers charged with transforming this architecturally renowned building all those years ago, decided to leave something for those who would follow them. On 28 November 2014, the builders, from John Dennis Ltd, unearthed the time capsule, found behind a hoarding in the Jules Thorn hall. Stored within a snuff tin were two newspapers from 19 March 1909, two postcards and a list of names dated 26 March 1909.

Box of delights

stampMuseum collections officer Rohan Almond reveals how Roman oculist stamps made a big impression on museum staff

Museums are in a constant state of flux: exhibitions come and go, displays develop, stores are moved and staff change. Sometimes, an item’s story can be forgotten, sitting on a shelf waiting to be rediscovered.

This is precisely what happened at Surgeons’ Hall last year. While working in the Quincentenary Hall store with a group of volunteers, we came across a small cardboard box that contained what looked like red wax seals.

Blood brother

bethuneChronicling the work of Canadian surgeon Norman Bethune who travelled to Spain in the 1930s to help in the fight against fascism

Norman Bethune FRCSEd (1890–1939) was the Canadian surgeon whose political and humanitarian convictions led him to join the Spanish Civil War, on the side of the Republican (Loyalist) forces in 1936. In Bethune in Spain, authors Roderick Stewart and Jesús Majada describe how Bethune became deeply involved in the anti-fascist effort and chronicled events through his writings and talks. The following excerpts, taken from Bethune’s own letters and reports, cover his creation and operation of a blood transfusion service, the commitment of the International Brigades and the rescue of fleeing Loyalist civilians during the Málaga–Almeria road tragedy.

Into the abyss

mckerrow350Working amid the horror of the front line, Charles McKerrow led a new system of casualty care during WW1 to treat wounds inflicted by high-powered weapons. Emily Mayhew writes

Charles McKerrow left his practice in Barns Street, Ayr, in August 1915 to take up a position as regimental medical officer (RMO) for the 10th Northumberland Fusiliers on the Western Front in the Great War’s second year. RMOs had responsibility for the primary health and sanitation of the battalion in their care on a day-to-day basis, and for the provision of emergency treatment during periods of fighting.

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