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Post mortem on private soldier.


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I am researching a man named on my village War Memorial. He died in hospital in Boulogne in January 1918, from disease rather than wounds. His papers survive, and the cause of death is stated to be  Empyema and Septicaemia. Among his papers is a very detailed typed report of an Autopsy/Postmortem done on the day that he died.

How common would this have been, or was it because when he died the cause was not known.

 

Martin

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Hello,

 

I have read quite a few German hospital war diaries and according to what I read they did post mortems on nearly all of the died wounded (at least during the more quiet periods, but also during the more busy periods) so that they could learn whether something could have been done better.

 

Jan

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Agree with above, but think you may find the following article useful which mentions a number of autopsies conducted...:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4181817/pdf/irv0008-0538.pdf

 

Quote

Death from 1918 pandemic influenza during the First World War: a perspective from personal and anecdotal evidence

This article has been cited by other articles in PMC.
 

Abstract

The Meuse-Argonne offensive, a decisive battle during the First World War, is the largest frontline commitment in American military history involving 1·2 million U.S. troops. With over 26 000 deaths among American soldiers, the offensive is considered “America's deadliest battle”. The Meuse-Argonne offensive coincided with the highly fatal second wave of the influenza pandemic in 1918. In Europe and in U.S. Army training camps, 1918 pandemic influenza killed around 45 000 American soldiers making it questionable which battle should be regarded “America's deadliest”. The origin of the influenza pandemic has been inextricably linked with the men who occupied the military camps and trenches during the First World War. The disease had a profound impact, both for the military apparatus and for the individual soldier. It struck all the armies and might have claimed toward 100 000 fatalities among soldiers overall during the conflict while rendering millions ineffective. Yet, it remains unclear whether 1918 pandemic influenza had an impact on the course of the First World War. Still, even until this day, virological and bacteriological analysis of preserved archived remains of soldiers that succumbed to 1918 pandemic influenza has important implications for preparedness for future pandemics. These aspects are reviewed here in a context of citations, images, and documents illustrating the tragic events of 1918.

Keywords: 1918 Pandemic influenza, First World War, mortality, risk factors, secondary bacterial pneumonia, Spanish influenza

 

Edited by TGM
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The hospital War Diary unfortunately does not give details of any deaths, but the numbers of patients seem fairly constant. Only 3 burials in Boulogne Eastern Cemetery on 15 January (including my man), so ,maybe they had time to do autopsies.

 

Martin

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There were large laboratories staffed by the RAMC on the coast and they did do quite a lot of research into disease so I would hazard a guess to say that this is why he had a post mortem. Does the report named the person who did the pm and what was the conclusion?

 

Pete

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