Juno Beach Centre | Canada in WWII
   Arms & Weapons
Version française | Printer Friendly Version
Medical Services

 
 Medical Research and New Methods of Treatment
 The Army Medical organization
 Naval Medicine
 Treating Air Force Burn Victims
 Battle Exhaustion
Few people today would question the moral obligation of the state to provide the best medical care for soldiers wounded or fallen ill in defence of their country. Yet the role of Canadian military medical practitioners has been a dual one: during the Great War, for example, the mission of the Canadian Army Medical Corps was "to conserve manpower" (Desmond Morton, When Your Number's Up, 1993, p. 197). For doctors and other medical personnel during the Second World War, fulfilling their moral and professional responsibilities as healers was only one side of the coin; limited manpower resources made it equally important that they do so sufficiently well to return soldiers, sailors, and airmen to duty.

Ruth Sharpe, Winnipeg (with tray) and Jean Byam, Saskatoon, in one of the big wards of a Canadian General Hospital, formed in Montreal and now set up in a civilian hospital and two schools in a town in Southern Italy, February 1944.
Photo by Dwight E. Dolan. Department of National Defence / National Archives of Canada, PA-130869.

Medical Research and New Methods of Treatment

The massive trauma inflicted on the human body by modern artillery and other weapons of war made treatment of shock and the prevention of fatal blood loss obvious priorities for medical researchers. Learn More

The Army Medical organization

Naval Medicine

In addition to civilian practice and research, doctors and other medical practitioners were needed in the Army. By the end of the European war, 34,786 personnel had served in the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps. Learn More

Although the Royal Canadian Navy formed nine wartime hospitals with over 2000 beds, "front-line" medical personnel served individually or in small groups aboard the destroyers and small escort ships which shepherded merchant convoys across the North Atlantic. Learn More

Treating Air Force Burn Victims

The nature of air force casualties was quite different from those in the army or navy. Many pilots and bomber crew casualties suffered debilitating injuries and disfigurement when their planes were shot down or otherwise crashed. Learn More
Battle Exhaustion

It was recognized early in the war that psychiatric casualties would require treatment as well as soldiers who had been physically wounded. Learn More
Suggested Reading:
• Bill Rawling, Death Their Enemy: Canadian Medical Practitioners and War, 2001.
• G.W.L. Nicholson, Seventy Years of Service: A History of the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps, Ottawa, Borealis, 1977.
• Rita Donovan, As for the Canadians: the Remarkable Story of the RCAF's "Guinea Pigs" of World War II, Ottawa: Buschek, 2000.
•Terry Copp and Bill McAndrew, Battle Exhaustion: Soldiers and Psychiatrists in the Canadian Army, 1939-1945, Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1990.