Michael Chapman- Healer Practitioner
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 apparatus.
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.