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Medicine and hospitals in the First World War

The crucial role of medical facilities in World War One

Europeana Foundation

After the First World War started, the flow of casualties soon overwhelmed the existing medical facilities. Large numbers of public and private buildings (often large houses) were turned over for use as small hospitals, most of which operated as annexes to nearby larger hospitals. Some hospitals were developed as, or became specialist units.

Categories of specialism included mental hospitals, units for limbless men, neurological units, orthopaedic units, cardiac units, typhoid units and venereal disease. In March 1915, convalescent hospitals were formed, these establishments helped soldiers recover under military control.

Below we're highlighting some photographs that were taken in hospitals during WW1. Explore Europeana for ore historical photographs.

World War I: doctor and nurse treating a wounded soldier. Wellcome Library, CC-BY

Military Hospital V.R. 76, Ris-Orangis, France: nurse examin. Wellcome Library, CC-BY

World War One: soldier being looked after by nurses. Wellcome Library, CC-BY

Mount Stuart Royal Naval Hospital, Bute. Wellcome Library, CC-BY Images: Austrian National Library (Public Domain), Wellcome Library (CC-BY) and The French National Library (Public Domain) via The Europeana Library - Europeana 1914-1918.

photography Europeana 1914-1918 World War I