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Training of veterinarians


SLB
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I am researching how veterinarians and support personnel were trained for the Army Veterinary Corps and/or other branches of the BEF.  Were they entirely civilians who entered with training completed or was there a training course? Thanks.

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I should imagine that veterinary surgeons were trained in accordance with rules laid down by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (in the same way that doctors were all professionally trained). As for their assistants, I don't know, but remember that there were thousands of men who worked with animals for a living, so finding soldiers with at least the right rudimentary knowledge would not have been difficult.

Additionally, support and assistance (both practical and theoretical, through leaflets and information) was provided by charities such as the RSPC and Our Dumb Friends League (the latter via the Blue Cross Fund).

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14 hours ago, SLB said:

I am researching how veterinarians and support personnel were trained for the Army Veterinary Corps and/or other branches of the BEF.  Were they entirely civilians who entered with training completed or was there a training course? Thanks.

In 1880 the Army Veterinary School was formed at Aldershot where combatant officers were trained in the care and management of Army animals, the selection of remounts and basic veterinary first aid. The school also trained veterinary officers in military duties and particularly the tropical diseases that were prevalent in army animals. The Army Veterinary Department was formed in 1881 and from then on the conditions for veterinary surgeons improved and by 1890 the Department had a serving officer as its head.”

“Following mistakes from the Boer War there was huge pressure for the reform of the Army Veterinary Service from all quarters including the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, politicians and the general public. In 1903 a Warrant created an Army Veterinary Corps of NCOs and men employed in veterinary duties and in 1906 it combined with the Army Veterinary Department to become recognisable as the RAVC of today. In 1907, Major General Sir Frederick Smith became Director General and was dedicated to improving the efficiency of the AVC, reorganising the territorial force and introducing modern veterinary equipment.”

“At the outbreak of World War One there were 364 AVC officers (Regular and Reserve) during the war a further 1,306 were commissioned and by 1918 almost half of the veterinary surgeons in Great Britain were serving in the AVC. In addition to officers, the expansion of other ranks rose from 934 to 41,755.”

“Mobile veterinary sections were established to evacuate sick and wounded animals to the veterinary hospitals where they could be treated. A typical veterinary hospital in France could take 2,000 patients. Most animals suffered from battle injuries, debility, exhaustion, mange and, for the first time, gas attacks. The success rate was high; two and a half million animals were hospitalised in France and of those 2 million were returned for duty, the remainder were either sold locally or slaughtered for human consumption. In Egypt there were also separate camel hospitals under the command of AVC officers with specialised knowledge of camels. Other innovations included the establishment of four schools of farriery. Although dogs were used as messengers across the trenches of World War One the AVC was not directly involved.”

With regards to WW1 see: https://archive.org/details/cu31924000361455/page/n5/mode/2up  Part III relates to instruction and qualification.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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39 minutes ago, SLB said:

Thank you SO MUCH for your reply.  It is extremely helpful.  Best regards.

I’m glad to help.  The archived history is very good and should clarify your understanding.

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Being qualified as Veterinary Surgeon and therefore registered as a Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (MRCVS) was generally a prerequisite of being commissioned as an AVC officer. The exceptions to this were those who qualified from the Australian and Canadian Veterinary schools who did not necessarily register with the Royal College (but some of whom served with the AVC/RAVC rather than the veterinary services of the Dominion forces) and a small number of senior NCOs who were commissioned into quartermaster roles.

It may be of interest that two of the UK Veterinary Colleges (Edinburgh and Dublin) set up OTCs in the prewar years to develop and encourage military training for thier undergraduates and to prepare them for a career in the AVC.  

https://era.ed.ac.uk/bitstream/handle/1842/14176/Vet-Hist-vol18-no1.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

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2 hours ago, pkm said:

Being qualified as Veterinary Surgeon and therefore registered as a Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (MRCVS) was generally a prerequisite of being commissioned as an AVC officer. The exceptions to this were those who qualified from the Australian and Canadian Veterinary schools who did not necessarily register with the Royal College (but some of whom served with the AVC/RAVC rather than the veterinary services of the Dominion forces) and a small number of senior NCOs who were commissioned into quartermaster roles.

It may be of interest that two of the UK Veterinary Colleges (Edinburgh and Dublin) set up OTCs in the prewar years to develop and encourage military training for thier undergraduates and to prepare them for a career in the AVC.  

https://era.ed.ac.uk/bitstream/handle/1842/14176/Vet-Hist-vol18-no1.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

Unfortunately the link doesn’t appear to work.  
What is your opinion of the RAVC history of WW1 service by Major General Sir John Moore linked above (in particular Part III)?

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Apologies about the link. If you google search "The Royal (Dick) Veterinary College Contingent of the Officer Training Corps" you should be able to find the article, if it is of interest. 

Sir John Moore's account is pretty much the definitive authority on the AVC/RAVC in the war particularly with regards to the establishment and function. The section on training and instruction during the war is likely to be as comprehensive as any. 

The Army Veterinary schools (and training facilities at the base hospitals during the war) were mostly concerned with the training of other ranks (both AVC and personnel from other regiments) in veterinary husbandry and first aid. No doubt many of these men would rapidly get plenty of practical experience and become highly skilled and would have acted in a role we could describe in modern parlance as "veterinary paramedics". AVC officers (with the exception of the small number senior NCOs commissioned as quartermasters) would all have qualified as veterinary surgeons before being commissioned. As the AVC rapidly expanded during the war presumably there was some degree of training in military protocols and procedures for civilian veterinary surgeons joining the AVC from private practice, although given the very short intervals between receiving commissions and being sent to France in some cases that I have seen, one suspects much of the training was done "on the job". 

 

 

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2 hours ago, pkm said:

Apologies about the link. If you google search "The Royal (Dick) Veterinary College Contingent of the Officer Training Corps" you should be able to find the article, if it is of interest. 

Sir John Moore's account is pretty much the definitive authority on the AVC/RAVC in the war particularly with regards to the establishment and function. The section on training and instruction during the war is likely to be as comprehensive as any. 

The Army Veterinary schools (and training facilities at the base hospitals during the war) were mostly concerned with the training of other ranks (both AVC and personnel from other regiments) in veterinary husbandry and first aid. No doubt many of these men would rapidly get plenty of practical experience and become highly skilled and would have acted in a role we could describe in modern parlance as "veterinary paramedics". AVC officers (with the exception of the small number senior NCOs commissioned as quartermasters) would all have qualified as veterinary surgeons before being commissioned. As the AVC rapidly expanded during the war presumably there was some degree of training in military protocols and procedures for civilian veterinary surgeons joining the AVC from private practice, although given the very short intervals between receiving commissions and being sent to France in some cases that I have seen, one suspects much of the training was done "on the job". 

 

 

Thank you, that is helpful and indeed of interest.  I agree with all your comments in the final paragraph, which I think summarises the wartime situation very well.

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Mate,

I also have a book "Vets at War" by Ian M Parsonson as history of the Australian Army Vet Corps, which give some details.

 

S.B

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