The Timeline: Battlefield medicine

Early innovator, 1536

William Harvey's observations on blood circulation, Sir Christopher Wren's intravenous administration of medicines, and Andreas Vesalius's works on human anatomy were all complemented – and advanced – by the work of Ambroise Paré on the battlefield. Having joined the French army as a regimental surgeon, Paré made several breakthroughs. His chance usage of an ancient Roman turpentine-based solution and his invention of the ligature – although a failure at the time, due to lack of antiseptic – later proved invaluable.

In the field, 1803-1856

The Napoleonic Wars, 1803-15, provided the backdrop for further medical advances. Triage – the prioritisation of patients based on their condition's severity – developed under Dominique Jean Larrey. The Crimean War spurred on a medical revolution at home in Britain as sanitation took centre stage. Florence Nightingale's nursing became the paradigm, but her realisation of the importance of hygiene in medicine came only after her stint in the Crimea. Her training school at St Thomas' Hospital in London had a profound effect on nursing in Britain. But in 19th-century warfare, disease remained deadlier than bullets.

Anaesthetics and vaccines, 1856-1914

The development of vaccinations and antiseptics – with the latter in particular indebted to Joseph Lister – had a catalytic effect on battlefield medicine, with the First World War being the first conflict in which deaths on the battlefield exceeded deaths from disease. Anaesthetics were first used on the battlefield during the Crimean War, where chloroform was generally preferred to ether as an easier, although often deadlier, alternative.

New dangers, 1914-1939

The nature of trench warfare in the First World War meant that injuries to the head and face were common, leading directly to the development of modern plastic surgery. Walter Yeo, a young sailor from Plymouth, was the first recipient. The 1917 usage of a blood bank had a direct effect on medicine beyond the battlefield as the first civilian blood bank opened in 1921.

Mobile medicine, 1939-2010

The introduction of penicillin and antibiotics in the Second World War resulted in only one in 10 deaths being attributed to disease. But it was the development of moving surgical units that had a truly profound effect on battlefield medicine. Around three-fifths of the severely wounded could be operated on within 12 hours. The use of helicopters in the Korean War (1950-53) allowed troops to return to homeland hospitals. Amputations from vascular injuries dropped from 50 per cent in the Second World War to 10 per cent in the Korean War, but the increasing use of landmines in modern conflicts has exacerbated the need for prosthetic limbs, the development of which has had to improve dramatically as a result.

Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
Arts and Entertainment

Russell Brand at an anti-austerity march in June
peopleActor and comedian says 'there's no point doing it if you're not'
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
voicesThokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail the athlete
Arts and Entertainment
Sister Cristina Scuccia sings 'Like a Virgin' in Venice

Like Madonna, Sister Cristina Scuccia's video is also set in Venice

Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

Life and Style
The Tinder app has around 10 million users worldwide

techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say


Endangered species spotted in a creek in the Qinling mountains

peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    IT Security Advisor – Permanent – Surrey - £60k-£70k

    £60000 - £70000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

    MI Analyst – Permanent – West Sussex – £25k-£35k

    £25000 - £35000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

    English Teacher

    £110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Preston: The Job ? This is a new post...

    Primary General Cover Teacher

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Southampton: We are looking for Primary School ...

    Day In a Page

    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album