Military Massage

We’re providing information about the myriad professions and industries that evolved during the Great War period, especially where new techniques emerged, or previously excluded groups were able to attain employment or qualifications.

Kay Nias, whose PhD (University of Exeter) researches the history of physiotherapy as a medical discipline, has provided us with an overview of the Almeric Paget Massage Corps:

Women in Uniform: Almeric Paget Massage Corps

Within a few weeks of the outbreak of the First World War, the Almeric Paget Massage Corps (APMC) was founded by American philanthropists Mr and Mrs Almeric Paget, to provide physical treatments to wounded soldiers. From the outset the APMC was a prestigious organisation consisting of only fifty women volunteers, all highly trained members of the Incorporated Society of Trained Masseuses. Members of the APMC worked hard; each masseuse regularly attended 30-40 patients per day providing a range of physical therapies including massage, remedial gymnastics, electrotherapy and hydrotherapy in a concerted effort to get men back to the front.

In November 1914 the APMC set up a massage and electrical out-patient clinic at 55 Portland Place, London, for the treatment of wounded men and throughout the war an average of 200 patients per day benefited from the services of the clinic. Director- General of the Army Medical Service, Sir Alfred Keogh inspected the clinic in March 1915 and the service became a model for the development of massage and electrical departments in major convalescent hospitals and command depots across the UK.

In total 3,388 women and men served in the APMC and a total of 56 masseuses served abroad between January 1917 and May 1919. The work of the APMC was highly regarded; having been recognised by the War Office in early 1915 as the official body to which all masseurs and masseuses engaged in military service should belong, the organisation changed its name to the Almeric Paget Military Massage Corps in 1916.