British Volunteers in the Republican Medical Service during the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939

By Linda Palfreeman

SALUD! reviews the enormously valuable contributions of the volunteers who left Britain to serve with the Republican Medical Services during the Spanish Civil War. Acknowledgement is also given to the immense effort and self-sacrifice made by men and women from all walks of life who, working ceaselessly at home, made it possible for the medical teams to function in Spain. In Britain, in spite of the government's official policy of non-intervention, there was a campaign of fervent support for the legitimate Republican government. The first British Medical Unit in Spain had immense political significance for the Spanish Republic. Barely a month into the start of the civil war, this small group was the first visible sign of international support. It would later become part of the Republican Medical Service and, within that, of the Medical Service of the International Brigades. Not only did volunteers help to create and maintain an emergency medical service, some of the individuals were also responsible for important developments that were of relevance to later military-medical practice and also to the history of medicine in general. Medical personnel generally worked in dreadful conditions, for hours and even days without rest, and with a lack of equipment and provisions of all kinds. They were mostly young and inexperienced men and women who suddenly found themselves thrown together in desperate circumstances with the task of salvaging something of life amidst the inhumanity and mayhem. That they rose to the challenge is, in itself, worthy of tribute. *** "Palfreeman hoped to produce a book that would do justice to the work of the medical volunteers who were attempting to salvage something of life amongst the mayhem of war. She has succeeded in doing so, and has produced an account that is valuable not only for students of the history of medical services in wartime, but also as a record of man's humanity to man under inhuman conditions." - Bulletin for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies, 37:1, December 2012, 211-215.

372 pages

Publication Date: 2/1/2012
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9781845195199

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