A Medical Emergency
Major-General ‘Ginger’ Burston and the Army Medical Service in World War II
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Australian soldiers and their American Allies won the land war against Japan in the Pacific islands because they were healthier than their enemies. The troops’ fighting spirit, their armaments, their naval and air support and their generals were certainly key ingredients in the Allied victory. Without good health, however, these other factors would have been nullified. Malaria, the great scourge of armies throughout history, threatened the health of the Allies and the Japanese alike. The army that could beat malaria would also defeat its military foe because troops shivering, sweating and shaking with malarial fever cannot shoot straight, let alone fight.
In World War II the Allies eventually beat the Japanese — a victory based, to a large part, on the success of the Australian Army Medical Service in defeating malaria. Their Japanese counterpart never won this battle. Major-General ‘Ginger’ Burston led the Army Medical Service throughout the Pacific campaigns. This pivotal book explains how Burston and his medical team kept Allied troops healthy in primitive and hostile conditions and during the greatest medical emergency of World War II — the struggle against malaria.
By keeping the soldiers healthy, and particularly by reducing malaria infection rates from 100 to less than one case per 1000 troops per week, the Army Medical Service assured an Allied victory over Japan. A Medical Emergency tells this remarkable story for the first time. In engrossing detail and using contemporary accounts, veteran historian Ian Howie-Willis brings to life the struggle of ‘Ginger’ Burston and his Medical Service to fight a deadly opponent that decimated the ranks of friend and foe alike. Their victory was key to the ultimate Allied success.