Liverpool Blitz: Hospitals and coping with the injured

In 1939 efforts were made to prepare hospitals for the war injured: a blood transfusion service was created, new operating theatres were provided as were millions of new bandages and hundreds of beds. In many cases, especially in cities like Liverpool, these services were stretched to breaking.

Surface shelters in Louisa Street
Surface shelters did not always protect against air attacks. This is Louisa Street. 16 October 1940
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The Liverpool Ambulance Service took casualties to the emergency and permanent hospitals. Auxiliary ambulances, driven by women volunteers, supported them. These people often risked their own lives to save others, going into dangerous situations to rescue and tend to the injured. Minor casualties were supposed to go to local first aid posts, staffed by volunteers, but in the confusion people were taken to or walked in anywhere.

Booths Building on Park Lane
Booths Building on Park Lane was destroyed on 1 September 1940. In the background you can see the Liver Buildings and the charred and domeless Customs house.
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Most people had burns and gashes from burning houses, flying glass and falling masonry. They were usually covered in dust, making them look and feel even worse. These people had to be treated alongside the usual women in labour, the long-term sick and those needing emergency treatment for conditions like appendicitis, heart complaints and munitions injuries.

Care was badly affected by the bombings. Staff often worked without clean water and in the virtual darkness. Some hospitals were bombed and many staff were killed or injured, putting even more strain on the services.


Read Women in medicine during World War II: twelve eye-witness accounts with an introduction by Carol Dyhouse, Liverpool Medical History Society, 1997.




Mary Murray talks about the terrible injuries she saw while in hospital.
(windows media | mp3 | read transcript)