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Surgeon at War

1939 - 1945 The Second World War seen from operating tables behind the front line.

by Aylett, Stanley

This extraordinary story begins in September 1939 when Stanley Aylett left a registrar post at Kings College Hospital to join the Royal Army Medical Corps. The Second World War was the last where surgeons carried out operations right behind the front line. The war also brought major developments in medicine. The author uses his diaries and letters home to relive the first advance into France; the chaos of retreat at Dunkirk; a sea journey round the Cape to join the 8th Army in Egypt; leading a Field Service Medical Unit in the desert; the British invasion of France, crossing into Germany over the Rhine, and the horror in opening up Sanbostel Concentration Camp. Alongside the challenge of managing the wounded and dying, this memoir reveals the passions of a young man - in search of love, intolerant of incompetent superiors, and ambitious for a peacetime career. Few war testimonies have the range and scope of this account. Having signed up on the day war was declared, Stanley Aylett survived to tell his riveting tale. He eventually wrote his story for the family in 1979. It is now being published in an illustrated edition with the author’s own photographs, selections from his letters, and an introduction and epilogue written by his daughter, Holly Aylett.

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