Sydney Medical Alumni and Students and the Great War


  • Paul Lancaster


More than 2,000 graduates and students of the University of Sydney served in the First World War. About one-third of them were doctors or medical students. A high proportion of doctors who graduated just before or during the war enlisted for service. More than 50 medical graduates and students from the University of Sydney were killed in action, died from war wounds, gassing or illnesses, or occasionally died from accidents while on leave. Most of them were among the younger graduates. Almost two-thirds of the deaths occurred in France and Belgium and the other deaths were in Gallipoli and Egypt, New Guinea, or in accidents. Military citations and personal reminiscences of surviving doctors starkly describe the appalling conditions of trench warfare on the Western Front. This project aims to study the family and educational background of the enlisting doctors and students and their subsequent medical careers and lifespan. A proposal for a broader University of Sydney project of all academic staff, graduates and students who served in World War 1 will also be discussed. Paul Lancaster is Honorary Associate Professor of Public Health, Menzies Centre for Health Policy, School of Public Health, Sydney Medical School