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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

medical acronym


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I am looking at the medical record of an Australian soldier who died of wounds on the Somme during 1916. The record reads, in part, "GSW head and fractured skull".

Is there a source that helps explain such acronyms as 'GSW'?

Any advice would be appreciated.


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Generally its thought to be a Gun shot wound but as i have found its General service wound or general shrapnel wound .As i have 2 many men with GSW and up to 5 GSW wounds at once if it was gun shot wound surely on average the man would be dead


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It is gun shot wound, but it was a term used to describe both gun shot and shell wounds which could be difficult to differentiate between due to the type of damage they caused.

I have seen numerous medical reports on service files where the wound is initially described as a gunshot wound and subsequently as a shell wound, and vice versa.


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I would agree with Ken. It does stand for Gun Shot Wound, but often also describes penetrating wounds caused by smallish projectiles/debris other than bullets - shrapnel balls, shell fragments, grenade splinters, stones, bits of equipment, even bits of other people. If the culprit was not retained in the wound, it could be difficult to identify what it was.

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