Memoirs of a Barbed Wire Surgeon
By Elmer Shabart M.D.
Published by Regent Press, 1996
This is a book by a survivor of the Bataan Death March in World War II who managed to continue practicing his professional all through their long ordeal, without instruments, anesthetics, antibiotics, medicines or even simple supplies like bandages and antiseptics.
Dr. Shabart, first as a young man who takes his Hippocratic oath seriously, later as a surgeon reflecting on how they somehow managed to stay alive, takes us on a frightening and revealing journey that begins before the fall of Bataan.
My dad recommended this book to me because his father (my grandfather) was also a P.O.W. in the pacific during WWII. Major John Bennett, U.S. Army Medical Corps, was stationed at a hospital in the Philippines before he was taken prisoner. Sent to the Fukuoka P.O.W. Camp, he treated fellow prisoners as well as the enemy.
In his book, author Elmer Shabart gives us a look at the horrors of the Bataan Death March as well as his life in a P.O.W. camp. He practiced medicine in barbaric conditions and improvised treatments as needed.
This is a heroic memoir about the courage, strength, and compassion of Dr. Shabart and all the P.O.W. soldiers. I loved that he dedicated his story to his wife, Louise. I didn’t know my grandfather, so I thank the author for giving me a glimpse into that part of my grandfather’s life.