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MNSUs - a British forerunner of MASH type Units

Discussion in 'WWII General' started by Cretophile, Nov 9, 2018.

  1. Cretophile

    Cretophile New Member

    Nov 9, 2018
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    A contribution to the board that I can't see has been mentioned before.
    Mobile Neurosurgical Units (MNSU) were an idea that was developed largely from the great expertise to be found about head injuries at the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford in WW2. A number of University establishments across the city were taken into medical use to treat war casualties, and one college, St Hugh's, became a 300 bed Miltary Hospital specialising in head injuries. It appears that successful intervention in head injuries meant that procedures were ideally undertaken within 24-48 hours of the injury being sustained in order to obtain the highest chance of success.
    Brigadier Sir Hugh Cairns, professor of surgery at Oxford not only established the St Hugh's hospital but came up with the idea of mobile units that were to operate near battlefronts and capable of providing early intervention even before the casualty clearing stations (CSS). These units used especially kitted out vehicles and staff and were capable of performing at least 200 operations without replacements.Initially ambulances, later 3 ton and 15 hundred-weight vehicles with adaptions. On one occasion one team transformed a captured Italian motor coach into a operating theatre
    The first unit went to France a little before Dunkirk and was, along with many of its staff and patients taken prisoner.
    The next, No 1 MNSU, went to North Africa as did No 4 MNSU in December 1942. I came to learn of these units that subsequently moved into Italy, because one or other of them treated a Greek soldier, a Private T Lagos who was subsequently taken to the head injury unit in Oxford. Unfortunately he died of his injuries and was buried in a CWGC cemetery in Oxford and as such became the only Greek sodier buried in the UK - but that's another story I am pursuing.
    Other MNSUs went to India and Asia, the last No 8, arriving in India as the Japanese arrived so came straight back home.
    Seven MNSUs treated over 20,000 patients during the course of the war- a significant contribution and one that raised the chances of successful intervention by a significant margin.
    The main source for this post is the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine but there are other sources on the web for anyone particularly interested.
    Odd fact. Cairns was also largely responsible for the introduction of helmets for motorcyclists - he saw the head injuries of Lawrence of Arabia after his motorcycle accident that subsequently proved fatal.

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