The Medical Staffing of the Royal Navy in the Russian War, 1854-6

By Chris Penn, published February 2003


The outbreak of war in 1854 posed numerous manpower problems for the Royal Navy: one of these was in the medical branch, where the Director General Sir William Burnett, thought there was a shortage of assistant surgeons. This paper tests the evidence as regards medical officers, to see if they really were in short supply, and to find out how competent they were. Analysis of available figures suggests that in fact the Navy had sufficient medical staff to meet the demands of the war. Also, despite contemporary complaints about low-quality medical recruits in the Navy, evidence shows that the work of naval surgeons during the war generally had better outcomes than that of those of their army colleagues.

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Filed under: Baltic | Crimean War | Mediterranean | Health at Sea | Other (location)
Subjects include: Navies

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