VICTORIA 3246 9, Bentinck Street. W.1.
Early in 1915 I found Basil Lang at Rouen,
busy as X-Ray Specialist to No.8 General Hospital, and, as usual, with many
other things. Although ‘eyes’ were his
speciality, he was an adept at X-Ray work, and his department was
extraordinarily well run and full of ingenious devices and self-made
improvements on the regulation X-ray apparatus.
He was a very great help to me in the rapid X-ray localization of
foreign bodies in the eye – my unit took in all the eye wounds. His spare time was spent in making friends
with French doctors and civilians, always with a view to devising some new
apparatus or improving an old one, not only for radiological, but for surgical
and ophthalmic use as well. Often one
would meet him emerging from some obscure back street with a grin on his face,
and his great voice would boom out and tell you how he had just unearthed and
befriended a workman who would make for him some special instrument or
We often met for dinner in the Café de
L’Opera, and he would tell me of his colour photography – he had made a
wonderful series of colour photographs of trench feet – or his new range finder,
or even of a bomb which he had designed.
He quickly realized the need of X-rays nearer the fighting line, and
with characteristic energy raised funds, designed, and had made a travelling,
self-contained X-ray lorry; this entailed a vast amount of work, first to
obtain official sanction, and then to get the unit made. Many visits to Paris were necessary for the
special electrical apparatus, but in the autumn Lang went up the line in charge
of No. 1. Mobile X-ray unit, which he used later to examine the King after his
fall from a horse. His carrying out of
the idea was original and, as events proved, extremely useful; it was adopted
later by the War Office, though the pattern was not exactly copied as French
apparatus had been used. It was at times
such as this that one realized the extraordinary mental and physical energy of
Basil Lang: he was always striving after something better.