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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Physical Exhaustion

Physical Exhaustion

At this time psychoneurotic cases were being evacuated from the Division labelled as ‘battle casualties’. This led to difficulties as such designation was undesirable from the military standpoint, and inaccurate medically. At a conference of senior medical officers it was decided that the psychoneurotic cases should be carefully allocated to different categories according to their aetiology. Only those cases recorded by the RMO, on specially prepared forms, as having suffered from some definite battle injury or severe strain would in future be labelled as battle casualties, and in these cases the diagnosis of ‘physical exhaustion’ would be appropriate for those without any definite physical injury. (At this time GHQ MEF page 369 added ‘physical exhaustion’ to the official nomenclature of diseases.) The large majority, consisting of anxiety neurosis cases, would not be labelled as ‘battle casualties’ but as ‘sick’. It was found that the physically exhausted soldiers generally responded rapidly to a short period of rest in comfortable surroundings at Base or in rest camps. The designation of anxiety cases as ‘battle casualties’ could have had far-reaching consequences, not only possibly conferring the honour of a wound stripe but also possibly affecting the question of pension, and in any case detracting from the connotation of the words ‘battle casualty’ and ‘wounded’. A number of these cases were admitted from forward areas to 1 Camp Hospital, Maadi, owing to the full bed state of the general hospitals.