Fighting fit? A study of the Army's medical examinations, 1916-1918.
PREFACE The Army’s medical examinations of the conscripted men in New Zealand 1916-1918 produced a large quantity of statistics from which it is possible to assess numerically the fitness of the men for the Army. Fitness for the Army, also gives a good indication of the health of these men, and by inference the whole adult population at that time. Only the demands of war could have compelled so many men to undergo a complete physical examination. The results which form the basis of this study, present a startling disclosure on the extent of unfitness present in New Zealand at the time of the First World War. The statistics could only be useful if the criteria and the procedure of the Army’s medical examinations were known. The Rules for the Medical Boards give an indication of the organisation of the examinations and the standards which were applied for acceptance into the Expeditionary Force. The rules as well as being inconcise were frequently altered as the war proceeded. Therefore the same standards were not applied for all of the balloted men’s examinations, but the variance was not as great as between the volunteers’ and the conscripted men’s examinations. The statistics from the examinations, published in the Appendix to the Journal of the House of Representatives 1919, had to be condensed to make for easier manipulation and the interpretation of the results more credible. Some of the finer distinctions in the original tables may have been lost by this process but the significance of the data is more quickly seen and the comparisons within the results greatly facilitated. The nature of the analysis of the statistics did not lend itself to fluency in the prose, but rather to repetitive lists. The results can only be stated, the figures do not disclose the reasons behind the results, these can only be surmised. The results clearly indicated the nation’s dental problems and the public reacted to this disclosure. The results also revealed the nation’s health problems but no widespread anxiety, except within the Plunket Society, was voiced. Public Reaction is somewhat fickle and it can only be wondered why the alarming results of the Army’s medical examinations did not greatly stir the public conscience.
Degree Name: Bachelor of Arts with Honours
Degree Discipline: History
Publisher: University of Otago
Research Type: Dissertation
v, 57 leaves :ill. (some col.), col. map ; 30 cm.