Category Archives: Medical

Large Mines Dressing

Tonight we have an example of the ‘Large Mine Dressing’, a field dressing used for the immediate treatment of wounds:imageThis example is covered in blue paper (sadly now rather damaged) and has instructions printed on the front for its use, along with a large /|\ mark indicating government ownership:imageI have struggled to find out exactly why this type of dressing was called a ‘mine’ dressing. I suspect it was first developed to deal with accidents in coal mines, but I have found out nothing definite. In form though a mine dressing is much like a shell or first field dressing, consisting of a sterile absorbent pad attached to a bandage that allows it to be drawn tight against a wound. A tape is provided at the rear of the dressing to allow the paper packet to be ripped open in an emergency:imageThe following instructions come from a RAMC training pamphlet and are about changing dressings in a hospital- in the field things were seldom this clean and organised, but the general principles would remain the same:

The assistant opens the dressing package, or, if large drums are used, places the necessary dressing material in a sterile dish.

Using two pairs of forceps, the dresser cleans the skin around the wound; he then performs the necessary toilet (removal of stitches, drains or packing and irrigation), and covers the wound with a sterile dressing. Great care must be taken to fix the dressing so it cannot slip.

All sterile material needed by the dresser is passed to him by the assistant with the forceps (Cheatle forceps) which never touch anything that is not sterile. Particular care must be taken that the forceps of the dresser never touch those of the assistant.

The dresser then discards his forceps for re-sterilisation and applies the outer dressings and bandages.

Details of procedure will vary in different hospitals, and on active service in the field modification may be inevitable. But it is important that everyone concerned in the dressing of wounds should understand the general principle.

This type of dressing was certainly issued in ARP first aid kits and it is possible it was for military use as well although any information on this type of dressing seems to be sadly limited. Unfortunately this example is rather battered, but it will suffice until I can find a nicer example for my collection.


Dental Support Assistant’s Scrubs Trousers

Over the years we have covered quite a few items related to medical services in the military, tonight however, I think I am right in saying, is our first object related to military dentistry. The Royal Army Dentistry Corps looks after soldiers’ teeth in the army, and the official British Army website describes the role as:

The Royal Army Dental Corps has taken care of the Army’s dental health for nearly a century and continues to provide high-quality dental care to the Army both in barracks and on operations. Wherever in the world the Army operates, you will find the Dental Officers and Dental Nurses of the RADC.

Whilst the army’s dentists are commissioned officers, the dental nurses (both men and women) are enlisted personnel and whilst working in a dental surgery they wear medical scrubs, with different roles having different colours assigned to them. Tonight we have an example of trousers from these dental scrubs for a ‘Dental Support Assistant’:imageThese are incredibly simple trousers, made in a blue-grey shade of cotton. Dentists wear blue and dental hygienists green. There is a simple drawstring at the waist:imageAnd a pair of elastic tucks in the side to help hold them up:imageThey have a single pocket on the seat:imageAs ever a label gives sizing and NSN numbers:imageThe stores catalogue indicates that these trousers are issued as part of a two piece set with the matching top (sadly I have not found this item yet):CaptureThe Army’s website gives more insight into what a dental assistant can expect from their career:

Army Dental Nurses are dually-qualified Dental Nurses and Army Soldiers, who are responsible for providing Dental Nursing support in barracks and on operations all over the world. Both qualified Dental Nurses and unqualified applicants looking to train as a Dental Nurse can apply…

After you qualify, you promote to Lance Corporal and your first posting will be at a military dental centre, providing Dental Nursing care. Our dental centres are all equipped to a high standard and you are given clinical support and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to help you provide clinical care to the highest standard.

As you gain experience and promote, there are lots of opportunities for Dental Nurses to develop within the RADC. More senior Dental Nurses can gain additional qualifications such as Specialist Dental Radiography, fluoride application or Oral Health Education (OHE). Many work as dental practice managers, doing the everyday management of Army dental centres. Some Dental Nurses are sent to Medical Regiments, which are specialist medical units providing medical and dental care on exercises and operations overseas. The same opportunities exist for Reserve Dental Nurses, including providing Dental Nursing support in remote locations such as Kenya.untitled

Outfit First Aid for Tanks and AFVs

A couple of weeks ago we looked at the small first aid outfit tin, tonight we are looking at its larger cousin the ‘Outfit First Aid for tanks and Armoured Cars’:imageThe similarities between this and the smaller tin are very apparent, both are made of metal, painted black and both have an embossed /|\ mark in the lid:imageThis box is considerably larger than the other example and was carried inside tanks and AFVs in a special stowage rack, here we see the diagram for the interior of a Churchill tank, the first aid box is indicated by the red box:ch3stow2The first aid outfit is hinged along the long axis, opening up to give a large space for medical supplies:imageA Canadian example of the First Aid Tin has the following contents list (apologies for the gaps in this list, but the image was very hard to read):

3x Bottles Aromatic Ammonia Solution

1x 3oz Bottle

4x Tannoflax Tannic Acid Tubes

?x Tabs Morphine Tartrate

1x Container Vulcanite

4x Bandages, Loose-Woven, khaki, 3” x 4yds

4x Bandages, Loose-Woven, khaki, 1” x 2yds

3x Packets Bleached Compressed Absorbent Gauze

3x Shell Dressings

3x 1oz Cotton Wool Compressed

1x Eye Bath

1x Medicine Glass

1x Card 1 ½” Safety Pins

1x tin Adhesive Plaster

1x Scissors, Stretcher Bearers

1x Tin Box

2x Boxes Iodine Ampules

There are two metal tabs along one inner wall of the first aid tin, these were for holding a pair of scissors:imageThe tin has a small wire carrying handle on the side opposite the hinge, and simple wire securing locks, identical in design to those used on the smaller tin:imageThe following advice was issued in the manuals of the time for dealing with casualties in tanks and armoured fighting vehicles:

A medical kit is carried in each AFV, and personnel are trained in its use. If the situation permits, casualties are evacuated from the tank, with an attached field medical card indicating the nature of the injury and the first aid already given. Casualties are then collected by medical personnel. e.g. Regimental Aid Post (RAP).

Outfit, First-Aid, General, Small Tin

During the Second World War it was recognised that vehicles needed their own dedicated first aid kits, and these were stowed inside military vehicles in black metal tins. Various sizes were produced, from large examples used inside tanks to much smaller versions carried in less crew intensive vehicles such as armoured cars and lorries. Tonight we are taking a look at a small first aid tin:imageSadly the original lettering on the front has worn off, to be replaced by a very crude ‘First Aid Box’ and ‘+’ symbol painted in white. Originally this would have read ‘Outfit, First-Aid, General, Small’ in white lettering on the top.

The box has a /|\ symbol pressed into the lid to indicate it was War Department property:imageIt is hinged at the short side, and a simple wire latch is provided to secure the lid:imageUndoing the latch allows the whole lid to be swung open, giving access to the contents:imageOther versions exist with the hinge and latches on the long side: I have not been able to determine the significance, if any, of this change. A very simple wire loop handle is fitted to one of the longer sides to allow it to be carried:imageThe handle is very lightweight, but dressings and first aid supplies are not heavy so this would have been more than adequate. Unfortunately I can find very little information out about this first aid tin, and I don’t have a packing list but I suspect it would have carried quite simple items like field dressings, triangular bandages, standard bandages etc. enough to patch someone up enough to get them to a First Aid Post for further treatment. If anyone can shed further light on this tin, please leave a comment and I will update and credit accordingly.

British Army Vehicle First Aid Kit

First aid kits seem to have been appearing on the blog with some regularity over the last few months, and tonight we have what I am reliably informed by a former British Army driver is the first aid kit fitted in heavy army trucks such as those made by MAN. This first aid kit is as simple as they come, consisting of a simple green woven nylon bag with a flap lid:imageThe words ‘First Aid’ are printed on the front in white lettering along with a medical cross so there is no doubt as to the contents:imageThe rear of the bag has four strips of Velcro, presumably to allow the bag to be fastened somewhere inside a lorry’s cab nice and securely until needed- the Velcro would allow it to be removed very quickly in an emergency:imageInterestingly this bag has also had some additional information written on it in black permanent marker, here stating ‘First Aid Kit, 10 Person, no5’:imageQuite what the significance of this writing is, unfortunately, remains a mystery. I do not have a packing list for this bag, but typical contents would include bandages, sterilised wipes, field dressing etc. As ever, if you know more about this first aid kit, please leave a comment below.

The British Army’s website gives some information on the level of casualty care provided during operations in Afghanistan, this basic first aid kit being the bottom rung of a well thought out ladder of care:

All soldiers are trained and equipped to provide First Aid, both for everyday situations and to look after each other on the battlefield. Teams of soldiers engaged in high-risk activities will have the support of one or more Army Medics, also known as Combat Medical Technicians. (CMT).

Soldiers also have access to a Regimental Medical Officer (RMO), who is able to provide the same level of medical attention as a General Practitioner. RMOs are trained in the management of trauma and their presence ensures the most seriously injured receive highly skilled medical attention at the earliest opportunity.

Medical teams

The medical training, equipment and facilities are among the best in the world. In addition, individual medical training not only gives extra confidence to the soldiers on patrol, but enables them to react quickly and correctly to situations, meaning they are better equipped to look after each other and save lives.

Hospital Underpants

Tonight I have one of those objects which seems really obvious at the outset, but has generated a lot of debate amongst collectors over the years. For a long time it was assumed that these blue underpants were for issue to female troops:imageHowever the consensus now seems to be that these underpants were actually for men and were issued to those recovering from injuries in hospital. Dressings and physical incapacity made it difficult to get underwear easily on and off some patients. These underpants are fastened at one side by cotton tapes that can be undone to make it easier to get them on or off:imageThe top tapes act as a drawstring around the waist, whilst the lower tapes help hold the pants secure. The Second World War saw great advances in medicine when it came to saving damaged limbs, and arms and legs that would have been previously amputated were now being saved, as reported in the Picture Post:

War is pointing the way. In the old days a surgeon lopped off a limb with a compound fracture, and then the patient made the best of it. One surgeon a hundred years ago is supposed to have cut off no fewer than 200 limbs in a single day; that is more than a modern surgeon amputates in the whole of his life, and today the Consultant in Orthopaedic Surgery to the Royal Air Force, Dr R Watson Jones of Liverpool, has reported that “in a series of Royal Air Force hospitals there was one amputation per 1,000 severe limb injuries, including infected wounds and compound fractures.” The wounded soldier, therefore, is easy in his mind on one score – the odds are heavy against him having to lose a limb. Further in war we cannot afford the wasteful practices of peace when a patient was treated for a fracture, discharged without any clear idea of his disability and how to treat it, and went to the courts to get compensation under the impression that his accident had made him a permanent cripple. The country needs sound men, not cripples.

With the greater number of soldiers with seriously injured legs recovering in hospital, specialist underwear would have been increasingly important. The dark blue colour is typical of hospital clothing- hospital blues and dark blue dressing gowns were also standard army issue. A simple white label is sewn onto the front of the underpants indicating they have a 34” waist and were made in 1943:imageAs is sometimes the case, I am struggling to find anything further on these- I can find no period sources or materials to indicate when they were introduced or declared obsolete, who was actually issued them or how they were received by patients or medical staff.

MTP Medical Trauma Pouch

We seem to have had quite a number of medical items on the blog recently, and tonight is no exception, with an MTP Medical Trauma Pouch: imageYou might recall we looked at an earlier iteration of this pouch a few weeks back here. This pouch is clearly serving the same purpose, but is a more up to date design that has taken into account some of the shortcomings of the earlier design. One of the problems of the earlier design was that if it was opened whilst still attached to the belt, one of the smaller front pockets was upside down and potentially items could fall out when it was opened. To counter this problem, on the MTP version when opened out only the top half folds down, which then reveals the second smaller pocket with a top flap opening across the pocket so everything remains vertical for access: imageTwo small side pockets have been added to the pouch to separate out items that are needed for easy access. Judging by the shape I would think these were used to hold the morphine syringes: imageAs well as a change in colour from olive green to MTP (there is a DPM version in between that I don’t have yet), the fixings on the rear have changed to allow this pouch to be fully compatible with PLCE web gear: imageBeneath the top flap are two plastic ‘T’ bars for attaching to the belt: imageAnd on the top are the same fasteners you see on PLCE pouches allowing the yoke of the PLCE set to be attached: imageNote also the medical cross symbol on a printed label on the top flap. The top flap itself has a clear plastic liner that creates another small pocket to allow small items such as alcohol wipes to be easily stowed here: imageThe lid is secured with a black plastic ‘Fastex’ buckle on the front: imageInterestingly nearly all of these pouches I have seen have an incorrect label sewn to the rear. Although this is an MTP pouch, the labels frequently describe them as DPM: imageThis suggests that the manufacturer’s forgot to update the label printing when they updated the camouflage! The contents of this pouch would be similar to the example we looked at earlier. This is a suggested packing list from the contents card:

1 x Pouch, Medical, 3-compartment

1 x Suction Easy

1 x Resuscitation aid face shield

1 x Adult Triage Label Pack Individual 5 Triage labels 5 Dead

1 x Chest Seal Asherman single use

2 x Morphine auto injector 1 x Pencil, Skin marking

2 x Emergency Bandage Trauma

1 x Tourniquet System Self applied CATS

1 x Scissors bandage universal Tufcut

2 x Bandage triangular calico

4 x Gloves medical examination/procedure size medium

1 x Hemcon Bandage