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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Countdown To ANZAC 20 April 1915

War Diary entry: "Orders received for disembarkation and operation Order No.1 - Attended conference with Brigade HQ."

As the day of reckoning approaches, it may be worth examining the medical arrangements for the treatment of the wounded.  Charles Bean again: "The scheme for clearing of the wounded was drafted by an officer of the General Staff, and the plan originally produced allowed for no more than 3000 casualties in the whole army; it provided one hospital ship with each landing force for the serious cases, and a few transports with temporary staffs for the lightly wounded......

At this period the commander of an army corps had no responsibility for the treatment and evacuation of wounded men......Birdwood had no authority to concern himself with this matter.  The arrangements for collecting wounded on the shore would rest with Colonel Howse, of Bridges staff, and Colonel Manders of Godley's staff.  From the beach outwards the responsibility would be entirely with GHQ and the Navy.  It was no part of Howse's duty to devise or recommend the provision of transports or hospital ships.  But he realised that the arrangements were defective, and urged this view upon the medical staff at GHQ.

The medical branch of Hamilton's Staff was represented aboard the 'Arcadian' at Lemnos by Lt Colonel Keble.......Keble himself considered the scheme for 3000 wounded inadequate.  Instructions conflicting with those already issued by the General Staff were sent out by him on April 17th......(On the evening of the 18th) General Woodward and Surgeon-General Birrell drew up their own scheme and formulated their strong objections to the original 'altogether inadequate' plan.......

The new plans, on being approved, were sent out to the divisions, but in consequence of rough weather were not delivered..... until April 22nd..........An accident of weather postponed the landing and gave two extra days for these arrangements.  Yet on April 25th and the days following it scenes of appalling suffering were directly due to the inadequacy of the medical arrangements."

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