Dr. H. Norman Bethune M.D. (Chinese: 白求恩 - 4, March, 1890 - 12, November, 1939) was a Canadian inventor, physician, soldier, & surgeon. Renowned abroad as a humanitarian for his involvement in global affairs, Dr. Bethune served as a field surgeon for the Republican government during the Spanish Civil War and later fought during WWII in the Second Sino-Japanese War.
During his lifetime he was an ideological advocate for socialised medicine, and served as a councilman for the Committee for International Aid of Canada, an organization dedicated to institutionalizing socialism in Canada & the U.S., and aiding the spread of Communism internationally.
Early Life Edit
Born in Gravenhurst, Ontario on 4, March, 1890 to Rev. Malcolm N. Bethune & his wife Elizabeth Ann Bethune (née Godwin,) with two siblings named Janet and Malcolm.
In 1909, Norman began studying to earn a medical doctorate after enrolling at Toronto University, taking a brief break from studies in 1911 after accepting a proposition to teach immigrants miners how to read and write in English, following which he returned to his studies until the outbreak of WWI in 1914.
Medical Career Edit
From 1928 to 1936, Norman trained extensively in thoracic surgical practices at the Royal Victoria Hospital under the guidance of Dr. Edward W. Archibald in Montreal. During this time Dr. Bethune was lauded for his masterful innovation, and authored fourteen articles on thoracic surgical practice for McGill University.
Military Service Edit
First World War Edit
Following the declaration of war by the British Empire against the German Empire, Norman enlisted with Field Ambulance No.2 in the Canadian Army and served as a stretcher-bearer in France. After receiving a shrapnel wound, Bethune returned to Toronto to complete his medical degree, attaining his doctorate in 1916.
Second Spanish Civil War Edit
In 1936, shortly after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, Bethune traveled to Barcelona on behalf of the Committee for Democratic Aid to work with Dr. Frederic Durán-Jordà, a Spanish haetomologist & physician, to develop a mobile blood transfusion unit. On 3, November, Bethune arrived in Madrid to offer medical services to the Army of the Spanish Republic. He continued to serve as a surgeon for Spanish soldiers, and personally operated the mobile blood transfusion unit throughout the war.
Second World War Edit
Second Sino-Japanese War Edit
In January, 1938, Bethune traveled to Yan'an, Shensi Province, China to fight for the People's Liberation Army against the Imperial Japanese Army. With the assistance of Lebanese physician Dr. George Hatem, Bethune established a medical center for the Eighth Route Army, where Dr. Bethune & Dr. Hatem trained field medics and provided emergency services to Communist forces. The support of a nursing staff and additional surgeons allowed the Eighth Route Army to aid a greater quantity of wounded and limit the loss of Communist soldiers.
At various times, Dr. Bethune helped provide basic medical training to guerrilla forces behind enemy lines, and established several tents where guerrilla units could seek treatment. Due to the circumstances of the conflict, Bethune fought with the guerrillas against the Japanese out of necessity several times.
In 1939, Dr. Bethune was appointed medical adviser to the administrators of the Jin-Cha-Ji Military District. During this time, Bethune coordinated the allocation of medical services and supplies, and served as advisor to Marshall Nie Rongzhen, Commander-In-Chief of the Northern China Military District.
Personal Life & Relationships Edit
On 11, November, 1939, Dr. Bethune contracted septicemia while operating on a soldier in the Eighth Route Army, inciting him to write a brief will & testament to be managed by Commander Rongzhen, and succumbed to his wounds the following day. The letter to Commander Rongzhen read:
Commander Rongzhen, 04:20pm - 11, November, 1939
Today I feel very ill, probably I have to say farewell to you forever! Please send a letter to Tim Buck the General Secretary of Canadian Communist Party at No.10 Wellington Street, Toronto, Canada and the Committee for International Aid of Canada. Please give my Kodak Retina II camera to comrade Sha Fei. - Norman Bethune