Beyond the Trenches (1936-1939). Photographs by Alec Wainman

Worldwide solidarity during the Civil War

Some 5000 volunteer doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers and support staff came from all over the world to provide healthcare for the Spanish Republic. Their medical committees succeeded in raising considerable funds for their work. Despite the fact that the volunteers worked in very difficult conditions (roads in a poor state of repair, inadequate lighting, makeshift premises, shortages of basic medical supplies, etc.), they made medical history in trauma surgery, blood transfusions and the organisation of surgical activity near the battle front. They are considered the forerunners of the American MASH (Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) and the French organisation Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders. Many of the volunteers were apolitical and became unsung heroes, such as New Zealand surgeon Dr. Doug Jolly and Australian nurse Ada Hodson.

After the withdrawal in 1939, a network of humanitarian support was formed to aid Spaniards in exile and the international diaspora.

The British Medical Mission in Aragon front

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