Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Christmas 2014: In Love and War

The secret lives of the Bastion Bakers

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 18 December 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g7448
  1. G Suren Arul, lieutenant colonel, consultant paediatric surgeon1,
  2. Steve Bree, surgeon captain, consultant anaesthetist2,
  3. Brian Sonka, colonel, consultant general surgeon3,
  4. Charlie Edwards, surgeon captain, consultant anaesthetist2,
  5. Paul Reavley, lieutenant colonel, consultant emergency physician4
  1. 1Department of Paediatric Surgery, Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Birmingham B4 6NH, UK
  2. 2Department of Anaesthesia, Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, UK
  3. 3Department of Surgery, William Beaumont Army Medical Centre, El Paso, USA
  4. 4Department of Emergency Medicine, Bristol Royal Infirmary, Bristol, UK
  1. Correspondence to: S Arul suren.arul{at}
  • Accepted 9 September 2014

The British Military Hospital in Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, has been responsible for pushing forwards the limits of care for severe injury; less well known, it has also pioneered amateur bread making in a war zone

While Dr William Brydon may have been the only survivor of the British deployment on the first Afghan war in 1842, the Defence Medical Services played a vital part in the British military exploits in Afghanistan of the past 12 years. Together with our US colleagues, we helped to redefine the management of major trauma. Now that Camp Bastion has closed, chroniclers, the media, and historians will pore over the official reports, personal stories, and veritable ocean of information on social media. A million stories of heroism, courage, hardship, pain, and suffering will be documented. Millions more, quieter stories will fade into memories and be lost over time.

As in the series MASH, the counterpoint to the tales of blood, heroism, and medical miracles was the humour and the humanity that punctuated the bloody routine of daily life; but, instead of a potato distillery brewing alcohol, we made bread. This is the story of the Bastion Bakers.

During 2012-13 a group of doctors found a novel way of supporting morale in the war zone. During the fierce heat of the day, when both the coalition forces and the Taliban felt it was silly …

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