Hugh Cabot and the Harvard Unit


Soldiers wounded at the Battle of the Somme arriving at No. 22 General Hospital, 1916

Bequest of Dr. Paul Dudley White to the Library of Harvard Medical School, 1973



Like David Cheever before him, Hugh Cabot published his early impressions of the Harvard Surgical Unit's experiences in France in the Harvard Alumni Bulletin, but his account describes a more active period in the progress of the conflict:

During our three months' term of service, about 8,000 men passed through our hands, and of this number only 19 died under our care.  Practically all the sick and wounded during this period came from the region of the Somme…. As a rule the men reach the semi-base hospitals three or five days after injury…. All shell wounds, and to a lesser degree bullet wounds are infected, and the proportion of compound comminuted fractures of the arms and legs was very great.  The universal use of steel helmets has very much reduced the importance of wounds of the head…. A most important part of the work of this Unit has concerned itself with the management of the dreadful wounds of the face, involving the mouth and jaws.  This department has been under the management of Dr. Kazanjian, whose work has been of such a high order that all the cases of this kind in the whole area are placed under his care.

Cabot here draws a distinction between the base and semi-base military hospitals; the latter cared for the wounded until they could be either returned to duty or transported to England.

The Harvard Surgical Unit
Treating the Wounded
Hugh Cabot and the Harvard Unit