Saxton, Reginald (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 8735
Production date
Subject period
  • whole: Duration 260, Number Of Items 9
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview


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Object description

British doctor served with Spanish Medical Aid Committee hospital in Granen, Spain, 8/1936-1/1937; served with 35th Medical Division Unit, 14th International Brigade in Spain, 1/1937-3/1937 and 7/1937-9/1937; served as director of field hospital at Granen, Spain, 10/1937-12/1937; served as doctor with Republican Army in Spain, 12/1937-10/1938

Content description

REEL 1 Background in South Africa, India and GB, 1911-1929: early life; attitude towards attending Repton Public School. Aspects of period as medical student in GB, 1929-1936: decision to study medicine; attending Cambridge University, 1929-1932; medical studies at St Bartholemew’s Hospital in London; effects of parent’s divorce; presence of student lodgers at home; development of political attitudes. REEL 2 Continues: recruitment to Communist Party of Great Britain, 1935; awareness of situation in Spain from Daily Worker, 1936; volunteering for Spanish Medical Aid Committee, impressions of Soviet Union during tour with Spanish Aid Medical Committee, 1936. Recollections of period as doctor with Spanish Medical Aid Committee hospital in Granen, Spain, 9/1936-1/1937: journey from GB to Spain, 8/1936; problems with POUM in Barcelona; establishment of hospital at Granen, 9/1936; types of injuries treated. REEL 3 Continues: description of hospital building; staff and equipment; reasons for presence of Moorish troops; amputating leg of Moorish soldier; question of treatment of Nationalist troops; Anarchist attitude to presence; rations; treating refugees; conditions in hospital. Recollections of period as doctor with 35th Medical Division Unit, 14th International Brigade on Jarama front in Spain, 1/1937-3/1937: background to decision to join International Brigades; opinion of Dr Alex Tudor-Hart; induction procedure; uniform; treating wounded at Las Rozas; triage system of treatment REEL 4 Continues: popularity of International Brigades, 1/1937; military situation on Jarama front; journey to and arrival at Villarejo de Salvanes; description of setting up hospital in town hall with Dr Alex Tudor-Hart; fatigue; nature of casualties; arrival of Canadian Dr Norman Bethune and blood transfusion unit; duties; method of giving blood transfusion. REEL 5 Continues: supplies of blood during Battle of Jarama; syringe method of blood transfusion; conditions during battle question of contact with Spanish civilians; matching blood types; blood supplies; Nationalist air attacks; plays gramophone record of song Jarama; nationalities of patients; leave period in GB, 4/1937-7/1937 including collecting medical equipment. Recollections of period as doctor with 35th Medical Division Unit, 14th International Brigade on Brunete front in Spain, 7/1937-9/1937: return to Spain; collecting blood supplies from staff during Battle of Brunete, 7/1937; story of treatment of ambulance driver Julian Bell’s lung injury. REEL 6 Continues: death of Julian Bell; stories illustrating casualties during battle; routine and question of fatigue; blood supplies on Brunete front, 7/1937; memories of Dr Rene Dumont and Dr Leonard Crome; medical supplies; significance of Madrid in Republican strategy; cadaver blood transfusions; treatment of wounded Nationalist soldier. REEL 7 Continues: Aspects of period as doctor with field hospital at Granen, Spain, 10/1937-12/1937: joining hospital as director; character of hospital; typhoid cases; air raid precautions; behaviour of staff during air raids; quality of nursing staff and doctors; fitness tests for International Brigade recruits; treatment of deserters. REEL 8 Continues: Recollections of period as doctor with Republican Army in Spain, 12/1937-10/1938: work as doctor on Teruel front, 12/1937; acquisition of captured Nationalist medical equipment and blood transfusion vehicle; establishing mobile laboratory at Valls; testing local milk supplies for poisons at Valls; problems of recruiting local blood donors; question of effect of infighting amongst Republican forces on strategy of war; background to Ebro Offensive, 1938; establishment of cave hospital; crossing River Ebro; digging in; nature of actions during Ebro Offensive; retreat back across River Ebro; transporting wounded; training for gas attacks; effect of morale on failure Ebro Offensive; hearing of repatriation of foreign volunteers from Spain. REEL 9 Continues: Reflections on experiences in Spain, 1936-1938: reaction to leaving Spain, 10/1938; opinion of French Government; opinion of role of air power and effect of Nationalist bombing of Guernica; lack of reception on arrival in GB; attitude of public to civil war experiences; question of treatment of International Brigade volunteers on return to GB; joining Air Raid Precautions and period as doctor in Brighton, 1939-1941; how experiences in Spain aided his work with Army Blood Transfusion Service in Burma and India during Second World War; opinion of nature of International Brigade Association in GB.

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