New MCL&A Exhibit Features Duke's WWII Hospital Unit

65th General Hospital Staff in Operating Room

We are happy to announce that our new exhibit, Remembering the 65th: Duke’s General Hospital Unit, is now on display. Featuring artifacts, photographs, and documents from the Medical Center Archives collections, the exhibit tells the story of Duke Medicine’s World War II hospital unit. Items include medical instruments used by hospital staff, an aircrew flak helmet worn by a patient treated at the hospital, original artwork of the unit’s doctors and nurses, and a letter from President Ronald Reagan commending the unit.

The idea for a Duke hospital army unit was born in October 1940, the brainchild of Wilburt C. Davison, then dean of the Duke University School of Medicine. Activated in July 1942, the Army reserve unit's original crew consisted of male and female doctors and nurses who all had some connection to Duke University, creating a mix of faculty, alumni, and current or former house staff. Members of the 65th General Hospital handled a constant stream of front-line casualties from heavy bomber crews, acute diseases and emergency cases, and acted as a specialty center for neurosurgery, thoracic and plastic surgery, burns, and hand injuries. The unit treated more than 17,000 patients during its time in England.

Remembering the 65th may be seen on Level 1 from June 25 through September 29, and a companion digital exhibit is forthcoming. To learn more about the 65th General Hospital, visit the 65th General Hospital Collection finding aid or go to MEDSpace to see some of the digitized images from this collection.