Medical Concerns and Military Thinking


CALL: 2015

DOMAIN: ID - Humanities and Social Sciences





HOST INSTITUTION: University of St. Andrews

KEYWORDS: History, War, Medicine, Military, Strategy, Tactics

START: 2015-10-01

END: 2019-09-30


Submitted Abstract

Medical Concerns & Military Thinking investigates in how far and in which ways medical considerations can influence combat strategies and tactics. The study focuses on the Western Front of the First World War and centres on the main actors that were active on this theatre: the British Army, the French Army, and the German Imperial Army. The outcome is a comparative study that allows to contrast the performance of the two belligerent parties active on this front with each other, as well as to compare the conduct of the members of the Entente Cordiale to another. While the thesis covers the period from 1914 to 1918, in order to track long-term developments in the three armies, special attention is paid to the year 1916. The reason is that 1916 can be considered a turning point of the war in that it marks the transition to a war of attrition. Conservation of manpower – and the closely related medical fields – hence, became an even more important aspect of the conflict.The study follows on a two-step process. First, it investigates whether medical features did have an influence on decision making processes of personnel affiliated with military combat branches. It then considers in how far battlefield reality allowed for these decisions to be implemented. The second step is considered necessary to illustrate discrepancies between theory and practice. It allows to analyse why medical considerations could at times be effectively incorporated into military efforts while they failed to be put into practice on other occasions.While the dissertation embodies a wide range of primary sources, it is primarily based upon operation plans, battle reports, and meeting minutes of the three armies that are currently held at The National Archives (London), the Service historique de la Défense (Paris), and the Bundesarchiv-Militärarchiv (Freiburg).

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