A.E. Van Jaarveldt


When the First World War broke out in August 1914, the Union Defence Force was still without a properly organised medical staff of .its own. Although the Defence Act of 1912 had made provision for a South African Medical Corps, financial difficulties and the importance of establishing fighting units seem to have relegated the importance of providing mil.itary medical services. On 4 August 1914, the personnel of the South African Medical Corps consisted of three men all at Defence Headquarters: a staff officer, a quartermaster and a clerk. As the Union was soon involved in the world conflict the proper establishment of a military medical service became of paramount importance. Initially a great deal was done by a skeleton staff from the Royal Army Medical Corps but South Africa was rich in civilian medical personnel and these people so on offered their services. The South African Medical Corps expanded rap,idly during the campaign in South West Africa and apart from establishing a large number of military hospit als in the Union, was able to staff several institutions in France and in German East Africa, where again the Corps worked in close co-operation with its British counterpart.


Union Defence Force; South African Medical Corps; Defence Act of 1912; Royal Army Medical Corps

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ISSN 2224-0020 (online); ISSN 1022-8136 (print)

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