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Foreword

Contents

Foreword

As a medical officer who served in Europe during World War II, I can speak with first-hand knowledge of the role of orthopedic surgery in a large and continuously active theater of operations. In terms of combat personnel and medical facilities, the European theater was the largest single theater of World War II. It was the scene of continuous and intensive combat; the fighting might vary in intensity from area to area, but there was never a general period of inactivity.

Casualties were very heavy, and, as in all theaters, battle injuries of the extremities, including bones and joints, comprised the largest single group, approximately two-thirds of the 381,350 wounded and injured in action in Europe.

The orthopedic care of this enormous number of wounded was a task of the first magnitude. It was accomplished brilliantly. It could not have been accomplished at all without thoughtful and detailed planning, which included:

1. The careful assignment of the relatively small number of qualified orthopedic surgeons in the theater to positions in which their professional qualifications could be employed with maximum benefit.

2. The training, overseas, in the fundamentals of military orthopedic surgery, of a large number of medical officers and enlisted technicians who were without previous training in this field.

3. The prompt publication and distribution of uniform combat-tested principles and practices of military orthopedic surgery, which in many respects were dissimilar to the principles and practices then current in civilian orthopedic surgery.

4. The continuous supervision of personnel caring for orthopedic casualties, and the consistent execution of the principles and practices mentioned above.

The result of this carefully planned program was a superior performance, from care rendered by medical aid men in the frontlines of the army area to definitive surgery in fixed hospitals far to the rear in the communications zone.

A large part of the credit for this accomplishment must be attributed to the tireless efforts of the senior consultants in orthopedic surgery, Col. Mather Cleveland, Medical Corps, and Col. Rex L. Diveley, Medical Corps, who preceded him in that assignment. There are few phases of the care of bone and joint casualties in the European Theater of Operations which do not reflect their administrative ability and clinical competence.

Colonel Cleveland has added to his wartime service by his continued interest in the recording of the orthopedic experience in this theater in World War II. This volume is the result of those endeavors.


It is essential that this experience be recorded. This volume is a record of errors as well as of successes. Both have been related with equal frankness and without reservation.

The lesson of history, as the saying goes, is that the lesson of history is never learned. If this volume is used as it should be, there is hope, in the unhappy event of another war, that these particular lessons will not have to be relearned, as they have had to be in previous wars, at a great price. They are plainly set forth, and, if they are properly applied, they should save both life and limb in any future war.

S. B. HAYS,
Major General, United States Army,
The Surgeon General.

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