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Gallipoli Bullet Wounds

By 1914 ordinary soldiers of both the Turkish and Australian armies were equipped with breach loading rifles, capable of rapidly firing projectiles, with great accuracy, over half a kilometre. Extensive use was also made of machine guns, capable of spraying the field of battle with hundreds of bullets to murderous effect.

Bullets were made of lead, encased within a harder metal such as brass. Troops were trained to shoot so as incapacitate the enemy, by aiming for the region of the shoulder and upper arm. However, wounds to arms and legs could easily be fatal. Bullets shattered bones, with the result that splintered bone and bullet fragments severed major blood vessels. It was not uncommon for bone or bullet fragments to cut through vital organs. Death from shock was common.

In order to stem bleeding torniquets were applied, often with the result that the blood flow to injured limbs was cut until the wounded were evacuated from the front line. In areas of conflict where soils had been extensively manured, the blockage of circulation allowed wounds to become infected with bacteria that caused gangrene. Wounds so infected often required the complete amputation of limbs.

On Gallipoli, open wounds readily attracted fly strikes, which, in a number of cases, helped men survive. Maggots ate dead tissue which otherwise might have become gangrenous.

Wounds to the head and the abdominal cavity were the most serious, and the most likely to lead to death. Given the difficulties of evacuation in the early phases of the Gallipoli landing, many men of the AIF died of peritonitis and shock who might have been saved, had there been means of speedy evacuation and treatment on attending hospital ships.

Here we can use Jim Hammond's testimony as to how he survived his stomach wound because he had been suffering from dysentry.

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AIF : Voyage from Australia Training in Egypt Gallipoli Middle East Campaigns Vivid Memories