Letter: Post-traumatic stress: dubious diagnosis, bad law

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From Mr David Rickard

Sir: Between 1955 and 1957, I did my National Service like thousands of others. I did not volunteer for the service, neither did I choose the particular branch of the service that I found myself in, namely the RAF Medical Branch.

One of my duties was that of medical assistant on an ambulance that was on standby during night flying. We did not look forward to the sound of the "crash" bell, but eventually on a dark night we were given a grid reference in a Kentish orchard where our job was to collect the pieces of the two fliers who had been killed. The medical officer was somewhat younger than the ambulance driver and, on asking if either of us had seen dead bodies before, was somewhat taken aback when the driver said "Only on the beach on D-Day."

The point is that both of us were exposed to a very stressful situation in very gruesome circumstances. I personally found the event very stressful and I cannot, to this day, smell aviation fuel without remembering that orchard, but we did not contemplate taking our employer to court for damages.

I'm intrigued as to what has happened to society in the intervening 30- odd years. Were we stupid, or are modern stress victims too willing to shout "foul" whenever they are confronted with a situation that they deem to be stressful?

Yours sincerely,



28 March