Professor Mark Harrison

The Medical War: British Military Medicine in the First World War (OUP 2010)

The Medical War

The Medical War describes the role of medicine in the British Army during the First World War. Mark Harrison argues that medicine played a vital part in the war, helping to sustain the morale of troops and their families, and reducing the wastage of manpower. Effective medical provisions were vital to the continuation of the war in all the major theatres, for both political and operational reasons.

The Medical War is divided more or less evenly between an analysis of medicine on the Western Front and selected campaigns in other theatres of the war, principally Mesopotamia, Gallipoli, Salonika, East Africa, and the Middle East. It explores preventive medicine and casualty disposal and treatment, attempting to view these not only from the perspective of medical personnel but also from that of commanders, patients, politicians, and the general public. In providing this wide-ranging geographical and thematic coverage of medicine, The Medical War is unique among books on medicine in the First World War. It also differs from existing work in considering the British Army's medical responsibilities for non-British troops and labourers, principally those of the Indian Army and various colonial labour detachments.

Winner of the Templer Medal

Mark Harrison works in the following areas:

Mark Harrison is involved in the following research projects:

  • From Sail to Steam: Health, Medicine, and the Victorian Navy
    (Wellcome Trust Project Grant)
  • The Challenge of Urbanization: Health and the Global City
    (Wellcome Trust ISSF/John Fell Fund Award)
  • Invisible Crises, Neglected Histories: Malaria in Asia c.1900-present
    (Wellcome Trust Investigator Award)
  • Oxford Martin School
    (Oxford Martin Programme on Collective Responsibility for Infectious Disease)
  • The Centre for the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology
  • A Dreadful Scourge: Cholera in Nineteenth Century India

  • Health, sovereignty and imperialism: The Royal Navy and infectious disease in Japan's treaty ports

  • War, Epidemics and Empire: British Military Government in the Middle East, 1914-18

  • Society, Medicine and Politics in Colonial India

  • The Great Shift: Cholera Theory and Sanitary Policy in British India, 1867-1879

  • War on Two Fronts: The Fight Against Parasites in Korea and Vietnam

  • Pandemics

  • A Global Perspective: Refeaming the History of Health, Medicine, and Disease

  • Disease and world history from 1750

  • Scurvy on sea and land: political economy and natural history,c. 1780–c. 1850

  • More

Current DPhil Students

  • Paula Larsson
  • Netta Cohen
  • Manikarnika Dutta
  • Hana Oh

I would be willing to hear from potential DPhil students in any area of my research interests

I currently teach:


  • Methods and Themes in the History of Medicine
  • Disease, Medicine and Colonialism in South Asia
  • Medicine and Modern Warfare




Medicine, Empire and Improvement, 1720-1820

List of site pages