North Vietnamese Army Suture Needles in Tin
The NVA and VC employed a wide variety of medical equipment sent from the PRC, USSR, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, East Germany and other Warsaw Pact Nations; plus some other non-communist left-leaning countries. These items were often captured in their original packaging making identification easy. Some supplies came with printed Vietnamese packing slips or labels.
These foreign made supplies included aid bags, bandages, medicines, vitamins, surgical tools, and other expendable medical supplies. Often it was out of date material from the sending nation. Hanoi welcomed it all.
The NVA and VC also manufactured some of their own medical bags, bandages, pouches and supplies.
The average NVA soldier left the North with a single field dressing, a few bottles of vitamins to stave off malnutrition, some soap for cleaning his body and some soap for washing his clothes. Naturally these supplies were expended during the march South which could last for six month. The NVA soldier would arrive in the South much thinner with only the field dressing left in his pouch.
NVA and VC units had medical personnel assigned who could perform basic first aid and minor procedures such as suturing. Medical Battalions and Companies were assigned to Divisions and Regiments which included Doctors, nurses and medics. Some large bases camp hospitals in Cambodia even included X ray equipment. Surgical procedures were performed in the open air, in tunnels and bunkers. Infection was a common side effect of these non-sterile procedures. Instruments were sterilized by boiling as alcohol was too heavy to carry South in large enough quantities.
Because of the vast nature of medical supplies captured from the NVA and VC, collecting them is fascinating.
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