From Our Own Correspondent SALAMANCA.
The medical authorities here are not impressed by the general optimism that Spain will be at peace before the winter, and they have met to discuss ways and means of importing vast supplies of antigangrene serum before the wet weather comes.
Doctors returning here on leave from the front-line dressing stations are believed to be responsible for this move. They say that the past years of the war have shown that gangrene cases increase tenfold in winter, owing to mud and other semi-liquids that infest open wounds. •
These doctors, I understand, are particularly anxious to obtain ready supplies of antitoxin for gas-gangrene for the frontline medical stations. Gas-gangrene, which is the most agonising form of the disease, has been known to result in men dying within 24 hours of being inflicted.
At the beginning of the war deaths from gas-gangrene reached a horrible number, and even last year, with the medical services properly organised, statistics of death from this were being widely criticised by men in the ranks, who could not understand the almost unbelievable cost of the curative serum.
It is reckoned that to give full serum treatment costs about £10 per person.
The less deadly form of gangrene is more easily treated, though the pain that accompanies it is just as severe. The symptoms are a slow rotting away of the limbs, which can be treated in hospitals behind the lines.
One of these front-line doctors, who has specialised in gangrenous cases, asked me to see for myself the deadly effects of gangrene. I watched him operate.
Fortunately, the soldier whose leg was to be amputated was unconscious from the time I arrived until I left.
This doctor was telling me : " Pain can be borne, an open wound staunched, but too often the fortitude with which these pains are met breaks down before the slow but seemingly inevitable movement of the poison of gangrene from decaying flesh to the sound.
" Away from the immediate horror, dirt and filth of the front-line, in the seeming security of a base • hospital —white, gleaming. antiseptic—the horror still creeps from shin to knee, from knee to lower thigh.
" I am afraid we shall have to amputate higher, nurse, to the top of the thigh, to .