Category Archives: Medical officer

James Green (1881-1952), relative of Ray Oliver

James GreenJames Green (see photo, left) was my Great Uncle. When I was a small boy in the 1940s, and on into my teenage years, I regularly had contact with Uncle Jim whenever he visited his older brother Joseph, who was my maternal grandfather. Both men were not given to idle chatter, but they clearly derived much brotherly companionship while seated on each side of the coal fire burning in the old-fashioned black iron fireplace. I knew that my grandfather did not serve in the First World War, as he was in his late thirties in 1914. But I was quite unaware at the time that Uncle Jim had served in the army during the conflict.

The recent revival of interest in the history of the First World War, particularly the personal stories, reminded me that I had inherited a collection of family photographs from my mother. I recalled that there were three pictures of Uncle Jim in uniform, but just what role he had was a mystery until I located the photos and took a close look at them.

It is clear that he wore what has proven to be the uniform of the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC). Uncle Jim was a devout Baptist, and the discovery that he served with the RAMC entirely suited the gentle and caring man I knew him to be. I do not know whether this indicated that he was a conscientious objector, or whether he was able to opt for a non-combatant role due to his age (he was 34 in 1914). My mother never said anything to me to clarify his role and activities while serving with the Corps. But I know that serving in the RAMC was not a soft option for many, when they were required to venture unarmed into the front line and no man’s land to treat the wounded and recover the dead.

Uncle Jim was a life-long bachelor, who worked in the cotton mills of Oldham after the war. Like many who have served in combat areas, he never to my knowledge expressed any thoughts or opinions based on his experiences. How I wish I had been old enough to ask questions. I wonder now if he would have revealed any details of his personal First World War.

James Green (1881-1952), RAMC, is the relative of Ray Oliver, M.Eng. Electrical Engineering (1975).

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Bartus Baggott (1893-1966), relative of Eve Rosenhaft

Bartus Baggott, my mother’s uncle, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, in 1893. He studied medicine at the University of Maryland, graduating in 1916.  When the United States entered the war in April 1917, Bartus joined the Army Medical Corps as a Lieutenant.  He received military training in Georgia and was introduced to the business of battlefield medicine at the Army Medical School in Washington DC. This probably included learning about poison gas, transport of the sick and wounded, and care for conditions like trench fever and trench foot.

By the time the ‘Yanks’ were ready to go ‘over there’, the European powers had been fighting for nearly three years, and medical professionals were in short supply.  Bartus was one of some 1600 medical officers who were assigned to take over and staff British front hospitals in the summer of 1917. In July he arrived in London for a wimereux_archperiod familiarising himself with British medical procedures. Between August 1917 and the end of the war he served in France at 32 Stationary Hospital at Wimereux (see photo left, courtesy of IWM) and 12 Stationary Hospital at St Pol.  He was also attached to the 1/2 London Field Ambulance – not a motor vehicle but a front line mobile medical unit.  Army medical staff were not safe behind the lines; each medical officer was required to do a rotation at a Casualty Clearing Station near the front, and some were fully engaged on the battlefield, treating casualties in the trenches and in dugouts. Bartus saw action at Cambrai in the winter of 1917 and on the Somme in the spring and summer of 1918. In the First World War, 65 American medical officers died of wounds and a further 102 of accidents and disease. But Bartus survived. He was recommended by the Chief Surgeon for a British War Medal and ended his tour of duty as a Captain, stationed in Angers until May 1919.

Bartus returned to Baltimore to make a career as a GP in private practice. When he died in 1966, one of the things he left behind was an unusual kind of war diary. In a copy of the American edition of Storm of Steel, the classic war memoir by the German writer Ernst Jünger, Bartus had pencilled notes in which he commented on the places and events from his own perspective on the other side of the lines.

Bartus Baggott, b. Baltimore, USA, 1893, d. Baltimore, USA, 1966, Captain, US Army Medical Corps, is the relative of Eve Rosenhaft, Professor of German Historical Studies, CLAS.