A Medical Hero Celebrated

It’s not so often that we see a military medico publicly recognized for life sustaining work in combat. “It’s our job, after all” would be a common rejoinder. It was good, therefore, to read about Royal Navy Surgeon Captain Rick Jolly, who was named OBE for his surgical and leadership exertions in the Falkland War. Jolly recently passed over the bar at age 71. At the time, he was the senior medical officer of 3 Commando Brigade. He and his crew set up a field hospital in an abandoned slaughterhouse at Ajax Bay. There, Jolly and his colleagues treated more than 500 British wounded soldiers and Marines, and about 200 Argentine troops. Only 3 of those wounded died, none while under his care. The Argentine government awarded him the Orden de Mayo for his work.

I remember reading that Argentine surgeons often mismanaged soldiers’ wounds, which, under typically filthy combat situations, were grossly contaminated with dirt, clothing fragments and shrapnel. Already loaded with bacteria, these wounds became terribly infected, so when the Brit surgeons “inherited” the patients, their work was often that of managing these serious infections – truly life-saving work.

Jolly was an outspoken guy. See his interesting comments (and facial expressions) in a two-segment (~4 mins each) interview for Sky News here. I like this quote: “We had only one motto in War – that the wounded MUST survive”. Military medicine at its simple best.

(Hat tip: Cdr Salamander)

(C)2019 Thomas L Snyder

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  • Paul Sayles.  On 29 Jan 2019 at 04:24

    Surgeon Captain Jolly wrote about his Falkland`s War – Red and Green Lifesaving Machine. It is a great book and for seeing medical services on a shoe string in operation. He was awarded a decoration by Argentina years later for his treatment of Argentinian casualties. The Queen gave permission that he could wear the ribbons as a permanent part of his uniform, He also wrote Jackspeak – about slang terms in the Royal Navy. Both books are fine reads.

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