Fang Farriers. Australian Army Dentistry in War and Peace. A History of the Royal Australian Army Dental Corps

Friends of Churchill Island Society Inc. > Blog > Articles > Fang Farriers. Australian Army Dentistry in War and Peace. A History of the Royal Australian Army Dental Corps

Kuusk, Lt Col. Sven, Fang Farriers. Australian Army Dentistry in War and Peace. A History of the Royal Australian Army Dental Corps.

Volume 1: 1914 – 1939.

South Australia, 2015.


This work contains much historical data but its structure and layout, focused on locations, makes it difficult to follow.

In general, it appears that the Australian Army had few dentists in the early years of World Wart 1, and some of these were not recruited on account of their qualifications.

By the end of 1916, there were 72 dental officers serving overseas with a further 8 in Australia ready to embark.

At the beginning of 1916, there were only five Australian dentists working in the UK with the AIF. Later that year, 10 units, each with a dental officer, were deployed from Egypt and five units were in Etaples, France.  The base here, with men coming from the trenches for treatment and reinforcements from England was a “mass of dental unfits” (p.57).

By February 1917, dental officers were given the power to ask for men to be paraded for dental examinations and no man was allowed to proceed overseas unless dentally fit (p.47).  Dental services were still poorly coordinated and under resourced.  We may assume that around July 1917, someone noticed that Harry Jenkins was a qualified dentist and had him moved to the Medical Corps to in a small way help to increase resources.

There are eight references to Jenkins in Kuusk’s history. I have also included information from Jenkins’ war records.

In 1917, (from 22/7/17) he is recorded at the Command Depot, Wareham with the 88 Dental Unit. The Command Depot was for training recruits. Dental units were to bring troops to an adequate standard of dental fitness prior to serving in France.(p.60).

Jenkins seems to have served in Command Depot No 4 at Perham Downs and Parkhouse (Salisbury Plain) until he proceeded overseas to Havre on 31/5 1918. (Jenkins war records). He was on the strength of the 59 Dental Unit (9/6/18) according to his war record.

Kuusk records that he served in the 59 DU from 31/5/18  and then 33 Dental Unit from 25/6/18 to 16/11/18. A suggestion from Jenkins was published in the October 1918 War Diary (p.109)

Conditions or fitness of members of the BEF were so poor that when a serious dental disability occurred, it necessitated evacuation from the unit to hospital. Any conservative treatment was generally impossible.

Jenkins was serving in Rouen at the Australian General Hospital , 33 Dental Unit, on 23 September 1918, with a photograph (above). .

In October, 1918, Jenkins was promoted to captain and transferred to the No 46 Dental Unit and then No 1 Australian Command Depot (21/6/18). He was promoted Captain on 6/8/1918 (after one year as lieutenant) and marched out to the 1st Australian General Hospital. He was transferred to the no 33 Dental Unit on 1/9/18.

On 19/10/18 he returned to the 4 Dental Unit at Rouen  and then to the 13 Field Ambulance. He then rejoined the No 1 AGH and 4 Dental Unit (2/11/18) 11 Field Ambulance and 46 Dental Unit (23,24/11/18).

On 7/3/19 he was given leave to go to Italy and then became ill with mumps. He returned to Melbourne on 5/9/19 and was discharged shortly after.


Like this article? Please share:

Leave a comment