WW II Arctic First Aid Kit

Medical and other supplies piled on the beach, Attu, Aleutian Islands, Alaska, 20 May 1943
Medical and other supplies piled on the beach, Attu, Aleutian Islands, Alaska, 20 May 1943.

Today in WW II: 20 Nov 1940 Hungary joins Hitler's Axis Tripartite Pact, followed by Romania and Slovakia in the next few days [November 20-25].  More 
20 Nov 1942 British forces capture Benghazi, Libya.
20 Nov 1942 Alaska-Canadian [ALCAN] Highway dedicated at Soldiers Summit and officially opened, although not generally usable until 1943.
20 Nov 1943 Makin, Tarawa [Gilbert Islands] invasion by US amphibious force [20-23 Nov].
20 Nov 1944 Hitler leaves his Wolf's Lair field headquarters [near Rastenburg, East Prussia] to go to Berlin, never to return.
20 Nov 1945 Nuremberg war crimes trials begin.
Visit the Olive-Drab.com World War II Timeline for day-by-day events 1939-1945! See also WW2 Books.

Development of the World War II Arctic First Aid Kit

1944 Photo of Arctic First Aid Kit
1944 Photo of Arctic First Aid Kit.

The Experimental Board, Alaskan Department, which had been established during 1941 to conduct tests during maneuvers, conducted experiments to determine the appropriate items to be contained in medical chests and kits needed by small U.S. Army units. These kits when developed were confirmed by their use in the 1944 maneuvers. The Arctic First Aid Kit, pictured above, was packaged in a small suitcase-sized case containing items deemed necessary for a small detachment, selected to remain usable under typical conditions in the Alaska zone of operations. The "Kit, First-Aid, Arctic, Complete" was assigned Medical Department No. 9776200 while the case alone was No. 9766200.

Testing the Arctic First Aid Kit

To determine the effects of freezing on common medical supplies, an extensive test was conducted in February 1943. Eighty-nine items, mostly Medical Catalog Class 1 (Drugs, chemicals, etc.) and Class 9 (Field Equipment & Supplies), were subjected to a temperature of -20F., and then thawed and examined for any changes. Many of the items suffered no ill effects although frozen solid.

For example, fifty units of blood plasma were subjected to freezing temperatures and the distilled water was frozen solid in the bottles. Only a very few bottles were cracked and, although the rubber stoppers were raised about 1/8 inch, no seals were broken. There was no precipitation or other obvious change in the appearance of the distilled water. Another test with medical supply implications showed that the batteries for medical instruments froze and became useless when exposed to the extremely low temperatures.

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