Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk


This paper provides a review of 150 years of the health and medical statistics covering the British Army. It opens by considering the early attempts to capture data on the cause and distribution of deaths amongst soldiers. The reforms of the Army Medical Services after the Crimean War included the creation of a medical statistics branch and the annual official publication of the Annual Report of the Health of the Army. The evidence of ill-health led to substantial sanitary reforms. The data on casualties and medical statistics from the Boer War included evidence of the appalling state of the health of the adult male population who provide the source of Army recruits. The medical statistics function proved very difficult to maintain during the First World War though sufficient data was analysed to enable a dedicated volume on Casualties and Medical Statistics to be published in 1931 within Army Medical Services series of the Official History of the War. This information was used to inform training documents in medical planning prior to World War 2. There were similar issues with the medical statistics function during the Second World War, though again, sufficient data was available to publish a Statistical Report on the Health of the Army 1943-45 in 1947 and a full volume in the Official History in 1971. The medical statistics function declined during the Cold War, though it was rejuvenated with the formation of the Army Health Unit in the 1990s. The campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan led to further refinements in the data collection and analysis of official statistics on military casualties during the first decade of the 21st Century. The paper closes by considering the key features and analytical reports that are required to report on the health of the Army and activities of the medical services in peace and war.
Period16 Nov 2023
Event titleBody Counts: The Administration of Military Losses and Casualties in East & South-east Asian Wars, 1930s-1970s'
Event typeConference
LocationOxford, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational