Many of the wounded in the First World War were taken to Casualty Clearing Stations [CCSs], medical units close to the front lines with space for up to 1,000 casualties. There surgery could be carried out and the more seriously wounded could be transferred to base hospitals on the coast or taken back to the UK.
Surgical teams in CCSs were made up a surgeon, an anaesthetist, a nurse and an orderly. There were few specialist anaesthetists during the War and nurses, dentists and chaplains ciould be called upon top provide anaesthesia during surgery.
The operating theatres in CCSs were in 60ft by 10ft marquees and the surgical teams rotated between four tables, working a minimum of sixteen hours per day.
Minor surgical set
This set contains scalpels, forceps, clamps and suture needles.
Singer’s tourniquet in a case, 1940
Tourniquets were used to stem the flow of bleeding. They were widely criticised because if they were left on for too long the limb could be lost.