‘It was a tough life and I did all I could to lighten the men’s burden’
British POW medics’ memoirs of the Second World War
in Working in a world of hurt
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Medical personnel taken as prisoners of war were no longer on the sidelines, bound up with the usual medic-combatant binary. They faced the same privations and brutality as those who witnessed and took part in the fighting. This chapter analyses the ways in which British medical personnel in both European and Far East camps articulated their experiences in published and unpublished memoirs writing after their repatriation. In addition to their own physical and psychological struggles, P.O.W. medics often carried the primary administrative as well as medical burden for others’ survival. An examination of their writings shows the extent to which resilience rather than breakdown became crucially important not just in the camps, but also in the way these men construct their experiences after the war.

Working in a world of hurt

Trauma and resilience in the narratives of medical personnel in warzones

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