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Worn out, torn down, broken, shattered, wasted away

“Most [combat exhaustion] patients were treated as temporarily disabled and kept close to the front, to preserve their self-respect and emotional links to their unit. Division clearing stations now usually included a psychiatrist . . . exhausted patients often were put into a deep sleep, sometimes for days, with ‘Blue 88s,’ sodium amytal or nembutal capsules. Of every one hundred exhaustion patients hospitalized in the European theater, ninety returned to duty in some capacity, although many were finished as killer riflemen. . . . neither competent treatment nor all the Blue 88s in Europe could efface war’s capacity to fracture men’s psyches. . . . Most experts concluded that soldiers wore out for good after 200 to 240 days of battle, although two psychologists monitoring the advance into Germany posited that a GI’s combat skills began to decline after a month of fighting, with many ‘close to a vegetative state’ after forty-five days.” – Rick Atkinson, The Guns at Last Light

Published inEconomicsRick AtkinsonThe Second World War

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