Endurance, Courage and Care: The 1942 Kokoda Track Campaign of Captain Alan Watson, Dental Surgeon- Reed


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Endurance, Courage and Care: The 1942 Kokoda Track Campaign of Captain Alan Watson, Dental Surgeon- Reed

  1. 1. ENDURANCE, COURAGE AND CARE: THE KOKODA TRACK CAMPAIGN OF CAPTAIN ALAN WATSON, DENTAL SURGEON AUSTRALIAN MILITARY MEDICAL ASSOCATION JOINT HEALTH COMMAND SYMPOSIUM Oct 2010 BARRY REED Royal Australian Army Dental Corps Australian Army Reserve Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon: ~ 1st Health Support Battalion Senior Specialist Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon ~ John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle Lecturer (part-time) School of Medicine University of Newcastle, Australia This lecture reflects my personal professional opinion 1st HSB C.O: LTCOL L Sinclair
  2. 2. This historical research has been supported by an Australian Army History Unit Research Grant Award
  3. 3. • Australian War Memorial, Canberra. ~ Photographic Image collection: p2424 and p2423. • Kokoda War Diary 1942-43. The Recollections and Photographs of Dr Alan Watson A.M. ~ Video. 1991. • Mitchell Library collection, Sydney. Reference MSS 1825: ~ Extracts from the War Diary of Captain Alan O. Watson ~ Image collection ~ Biographical notes • Little by Little. A centenary History of the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps by Michael Tyquin. Australian Military History Publications. 2003 • Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Series 5 – Medical - Volume Volume 3 – The Island Campaigns.1st edition, 1957. References & photo acknowledgments
  4. 4. The Australian military health care tradition:The Australian military health care tradition: endurance, courage and care for woundedendurance, courage and care for wounded soldiers whatever the circumstancessoldiers whatever the circumstances Simpson Kirkpatrick, RAMC stretcher bearer & “Duffy” Gallipoli 1915
  5. 5. World War One: Gallipolli 1915: dental treatment Western Front 1918: dental treatment
  6. 6. 2/4th Field Ambulance: Lead Medical unit for the Advance phase October to December 1942
  7. 7. Deployed medical units • Were the 14th and 2/6th Field Ambulances for the initial advance to Kokoda, the fighting withdrawal phase and then mostly as rear units for the later advance phase • 2/4th Field Ambulance took over as lead unit for the later advance phase of the Kokoda campaign from October 1942 and the Gona campaign in Dec 1942 2/6 Field Ambulance. Myola 2. October
  8. 8. Roles of Capt Alan Watson, Dental Officer • Emergency & urgent dental care • General anaesthesia • Aeromedical evacuation Officer
  9. 9. photography • Capt. Alan Watson appointed by his Commanding Officer LTCOL Arthur Hobson as unofficial photographer for the unit • Two German Leica cameras
  10. 10. Experienced • Graduated with Honours 1938 • Rural private dental practice 1939 • Joined Army 1939 • Syrian campaign 1941 • 25 years old • received a short concentrated course in the administration of general anaesthesia at the start of his Kokoda campaign
  11. 11. Roles of the 2/4th Field Ambulance • “The Field Ambulance must be capable of instant movement and change. In the New Guinea campaign there was no question of leaving the field ambulance behind. It had to and did keep up with the battle troops”. by WO2 LC Thompson in an article published in SALT March 1943 • Triage and Resuscitation • Ward nursing care with patient holding • Initial wound surgery and further surgery • Primary health care • Preparation for evacuation • Dental care • Environmental health support
  12. 12. Example of instant change: Efogi 15th October. Emergency arm amputation “the field Ambulance must be capable of instant movement and change.. ….. It had to and did keep up with the battle troops”. (WO2 LC Thompson, SALT March 1943)
  13. 13. • Of crucial importance, it had a surgical team attached for the campaign Proximity for surgical care with the Field Ambulance
  14. 14. th Field Ambulance had a comparable sualty care role to today’s role two nhanced) deployable Army hospital
  15. 15. Some problems of the Campaign oblems In neral: rrain Weather ansport opical diseases ommunication nemy action • Specific casualty care problems: • Medical evacuation • Resupply difficulties (medicines & food) • Hospital staff levels: surgical workload and ward workload • Lack of equipment • Lack of adequate shelter • Staff health maintenance ~ diseases
  16. 16. errain: jungle and mountains mita Ridge (northern view)
  17. 17. mita Ridge (southern view towards Port Moresby)
  18. 18. “Golden Stairs”. Imita Ridge
  19. 19. Terrain obstacles: streams
  20. 20. Terrain obstacles: Rivers (Wairopi)
  21. 21. Weather: torrential rain (mud), cold and heat
  22. 22. Mode of Transport: walking
  23. 23. Distinctive feature of the Kokoda mpaign were the walking wounded who self evacuated along the track
  24. 24. ansport of supplies & equipment: rimary method of the campaign ~ native carriers
  25. 25. Native carriers for resupply
  26. 26. tive carriers for severely wounded CAPT Geoffrey Vernon
  27. 27. ransport: First stage of campaign ~ mules
  28. 28. Last stage of campaign: motor transport
  29. 29. nsport of supplies/replenishment: aerial drops 0% losses with
  30. 30. Supply by air: strips ~ weather & terrain difficulties
  31. 31. air strips ~ terrain difficulties
  32. 32. Proximity for the Field Ambulance he revolutionary conditions imposed on us gave e to a new leap frog movement. The unit was ead out along the track in a series of posts”. O2 LC Thompson in an article published in LT March 1943)
  33. 33. Kokoda Track
  34. 34. ersonnel 2/4th Field Ambulance in the Kokoda Campaign officers other ranks ______________________________ ginal War establishment: officers 5 other ranks
  35. 35. Main Dressing Station. 2/4 Field Ambulance. Myola 1.
  36. 36. Treatment of the Sick 0% of hospital admissions or more) e.g. 8th November: 52 battle casualties, 205 sick Malaria Dysentery Skin diseases Fatigue, exhaustion malnutrition Typhus
  37. 37. Hospital ward: Nauro jungle
  38. 38. Hospital ward: Dry lakes at Myola
  39. 39. ospital ward: native construction at Kokoda
  40. 40. uta M.D.S. (operating theatre & kitchen)
  41. 41. Preparedness ress shows evidence of the unit's lack of preparedness for the campaign ahead the Kokoda Track, with Captain Day wearing puttees as used in the deserts of
  42. 42. eparedness & improvisation/adaptability
  43. 43. Operating theatre equipment puta 2. The operating theatre. The operating table is a makeshift piece of bush handicraft made from trees.
  44. 44. Dental clinic
  45. 45. Preparedness No dental replenishment for five months
  46. 46. Modern day emergency dental kit
  47. 47. Dentistry by Capt. Alan Watson • 3rd October to 18th December (11 weeks): • 208 patients ~133 made fit (64%) • 2 fractured mandibles • ~ closed reductions • 238 extractions • 74 fillings and dressings • 19 Acute Necrotising Ulcerative Gingivitis (“trench mouth”) • (30 gingivitis/periodontal disease, 12 denture
  48. 48. Surgical team
  49. 49. Types of wounds Limb ~ common ~ “a really serious problem was lack of control of the emoral artery by tourniquet” Chest ~ sucking chest wounds Abdominal ~ transfusion often ~ “wounds of the buttock were misleading” Head Gas gangrene ~ 4.5% of battle casualties ~ “value of surgical excision”
  50. 50. Surgical team Operated day and night. Myola 1. Dawn
  51. 51. Surgical Team Workload: n major cases in twelve hours th perhaps additional five less serious cases ckled all branches of surgery ay and night shifts p to 36 hours continuously in operating theatre
  52. 52. General anaesthesia
  53. 53. General anaesthesia Ether, chloroform (from 1918 supplies) and Pentothal later
  54. 54. neral anaesthesia by Capt. Alan Watson th th
  55. 55. Surgical team Efogi North. Members of the surgical team of the 2/4th Field Ambulance perform an operation in the tent that serves as the operating theatre at the unit's Main Dressing Station. Left to right: Captain Douglas Leslie, the surgeon; Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Hobson, the unit CO, who is assisting; Capt Alan Watson, the unit Dental Officer, who is
  56. 56. Operations performed
  57. 57. Operations performed
  58. 58. Resuscitation evere degrees of shock not uncommon” od transfusions: Serum, whole blood walking blood bank”: unit members, soldiers x-rays
  59. 59. Historical record: First operation, 2/4th Field Ambulance
  60. 60. Historical record: First operation, 2/4th Field Ambulance
  61. 61. Transport of the wounded & medical evacuation The stretcher is slung below a single carrying bar supported at each end by one
  62. 62. Evacuation by air
  63. 63. da, November. USAAF Stinson Vigilant ambulance aircraft prepares to take rom the airstrip. The aircraft is evacuating two sick or wounded Australian
  64. 64. pt. Alan Watson s aeromedical evacuation oading Officer okoda airstrip, 5 Nov to 16 Nov: rganised evacuation of 350 patients est two days: 111 and 99 casualties opondetta airstrip, one day only, 27th Nov: rganised evacuation of 400 battle casualties & ck
  65. 65. Bartering with Japanese rifles & helmets for aeromedical evacuation: Four hundred evacuated on the day of air raid good scale of payment. A Japanese helmet equaled sick or wounded. A Japanese rifle equaled ten-
  66. 66. r raid Soputa M.D.S: 27th November n a few minutes a busy ospital was transformed to a miniature battlefield.”
  67. 67. Air raid: wards hit
  68. 68. Air raid: 22 killed, over 50 wounded
  69. 69. Completing both the Kokoda Campaign and Kokoda track. Gona beach. 16th December 1942 casualties Papuan Campaign: 942 to January 1943 Australian troops served:
  70. 70. Some problems of the Campaign oblems In neral: rrain Weather ansport opical diseases ommunication nemy action • Specific casualty care problems: • Medical evacuation • Resupply difficulties (medicines & food) • Hospital staff levels: surgical workload and ward workload • Lack of equipment • Lack of adequate shelter • Staff health maintenance ~ diseases
  71. 71. Morale: Lack of timely replenishment of hospital supplies Bandages and dressings, essential drugs, anaesthetic agents, tents, stretchers, food, sutures, sterile water…..
  72. 72. provisations, Ingenuity and Solutions Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels Local supplies Equipment improvisation leapfrog” unit movement First use of aeromedical evacuation Holding non-walking casualties long term in wards Walking wounded self evacuation Aerial supply drops Field Training and Multitasking personnel for staff shortages e.g. general anaesthesia Medical liaison officers with HQ Role of kitchens and food in morale maintenance Combat health support: Mobility, proximity, flexibility,
  73. 73. Historical record ng hard, PO Archer exclaimed excitedly, 'Sir, sir, I think I've shot down a Zero!' s the Control Officer replied, 'Don't be silly, Archer, Wirraways can't shoot down ' 'Well, sir,' continued Archer, 'I went in to look at the wreck off Gona and I saw
  74. 74. wards South West Pacific between October 1st 1942 and March 31st 1943: BE (Military Division): Lt. Col. A.G. Hobson NX454 tation”: Lt Col. Hobson was personally responsible r good service rendered by his Field Ambulance Unit. his unit served continuously two brigades during the vance from Nauro to Gona. entioned in Dispatches (Posthumous): aj. I. F. Vickery NX473 aj. H.F.G. McDonald VX 14704 entioned in Dispatches: apt. D.R. Leslie VX39117 apt. A. O. Watson NX 34655
  75. 75. Alan O. Watson, A.M. 1917 - 1993 entioned in despatches”, for “having rendered gallant and tinguished services” in the Kokoda Track campaign omotion to Major laria for three years; dysentery scharged 1944 vate practice with his father, Macquarie St, Sydney ovations in the dental care for Cerebral Palsy patients for rty years; established dental operating theatre at the Spastic ntre Mosman rt time lecturer, University of Sydney from 1962 norary life membership Spastic Centre of NSW 1979 ctor of Dental Science 1955 mber of the Order of Australia 1983
  76. 76. his qualities live on:
  77. 77. Questions?
  78. 78. panese prisoners awaiting aeromedical evacuation
  79. 79. Morale: central role of an integral unit kitchen as the unit social venue & the provision of adequate food proved invaluable in maintenance of morale