War has long brought about great change and discovery in medicine and dentistry, due mainly to necessity and the urgency and severity of the injuries, disease and other hardships confronting patients and practitioners. Much of this innovation has taken place in the field, in makeshift hospitals, under conditions of poor hygiene and with inadequate equipment and supplies. During World War I, servicemen lived in appalling conditions in the trenches and were subjected to the effects of horrific new weapons such as mustard gas. Doctors and dentists fought a courageous battle against the havoc caused by war wounds, poor sanitation and disease.
Compassion and courage: Australian doctors and dentists in the Great War explores the physical injury, disease, chemical warfare and psychological trauma of World War I, the personnel involved and the resulting medical and dental breakthroughs. The book and exhibition draw upon the museums, archives and library of the University of Melbourne, as well as public and private collections in Australia and internationally, and bring together the research of historians, doctors, dentists, curators and other experts.