Everyday Medical Life Aboard Ships

I remember my days aboard destroyers as a Vietnam-era Squadron Medical Officer as requiring one to endure hours of boredom, gently punctuated by the occasional inspection of medical stores or the occasional consultation for a particularly pernicious case of gonorrhea. While the story of how the particular sailor caught his case of the gleet may have made for a good morality short story, everyday shipboard medical life is not the stuff that excites historians. Until now.

Society for the History of Navy Medicine member William P McEvoy (he goes by “Mac”) has recently had published “‘Experiences at Sea’: A Navy Doctor at War”, in the Journal of Military History. Mac, a PhD student in military history at Kansas State University introduces his topic in his Abstract thus:

This article identifies a significant hole in the literature of World War II.
Few works discuss the everyday life of medical personnel and fewer still
detail the lives of naval medical providers; those that do tend to focus on
the exciting and bloody aspects of a medico at war. Filling this gap, this
article argues that the most accurate picture of life at war should include
life’s routine features and then describes the everyday experiences of
a U.S. Navy doctor in the Pacific from September 1944 to December
1945, whose daily existence was far different from and more typical
than the one most often portrayed.

Mac’s paper is here: McEvoy. He’s very interested to have your comments of praise and of constructive criticism. Leave a comment below, or send me an email, and I’ll forward your comments to the author.

©2012 Thomas L Snyder

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