Medical Services Waterbottle

In the field, tending to the wounded, a medic is often called upon to give the injured a drink of water. Unfortunately the standard kidney shaped enamelled waterbottle used by the British Army was not very suitable for this task. It had a narrow spout, limited capacity and was difficult to use with a man lying injured on his back. The British Army realised this and issued a larger waterbottle, with a wider spout and a seperate cup to its medical personnel. This waterbottle was made of metal and was similar in shape to the standard bottle, but much larger. It had a felt cover and a leather shoulder strap, that are unfortunately missing on my example:

A seperate cup was provided to allow a small quantity of water to be poured out and offered up to a casualty’s lips to allow him to take small sips:

The spout is also much larger in diameter, making it easier to drink from. This was originally issued with a cork stopper that is another item missing from my example:

The base of the bottle is marked with the manufacturer’s name and a date of 1939:

These details are repeated on the base of the cup:

Mecical services were invaluable in battle, as at Arnhem where Derrick Randall was a medical officer:

Next morning when Div HQ moved away from the Landing Zone, I also moved and later that day joined them in the new HQ set up in the Hartenstein Hotel. I set up my regimental aid post in a room in the basement, which had reasonably easy access, even though it was down a few steps. Fortunately I was able to board up the window and for a short time we had electric light, but very soon my precious Tilly lamp became invaluable.

Soon after I set up, some casualties started to come in, a few at first but rapidly increasing later. Partly as the battle hotted up, and partly as the perimeter tightened and other medical aid became more limited. I had no orderly of my own but the assistant director of medical services loaned me a cpl from his office. The casualties were from all types of small arms, mortar and shellfire. Treatment was basically primary care. Morphine as necessary, control of bleeding and treatment of wounds by cleaning and application of field or shell dressings with a splintage as required. Where this was necessary, it was of the first aid variety, for I carried no custom-made splints. Above all we were able to give a little comfort and rest. Tea was given fairly regularly and thankfully received. This and food, when available was donated by various units around.

Non-surgical casualties were virtually non-existent. One, I remember, was a soldier with convulsions, like epilepsy, which was attributed by his companion to some ‘plastic explosive that had fallen in his tea!’ Recovery was quick and complete. Within an hour or two he was back on duty.

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