Many well-known doctors in the British armed services have for centuries come from Scotland.
In the eighteenth century, the excellent parish school system educated many young men, who then took advantage of the generous post school educational opportunities north of the border.
One such was Sir James McGrigor from Aberdeen, who worked closely with Wellington in the Peninsular War to create and build a fine Army Medical Department.
Then there was John Robert Hume, who rose to medical fame through his being private physician to the Duke of Wellington. He had served as a surgeon for 11years.
He gained several degrees as a physician, but still retained the ability to operate as a surgeon. He removed the leg of Colonel Alexander Gordon, one of Wellington’s favourite ADCs. Gordon died after something went wrong with the amputation.
While all that was going on, Hume removed Lord Uxbridge’s leg, using the new flap method. Uxbridge’s pulse remained steady throughout the operation and the cavalry commander seemed to feel no pain.
He demanded a senior cavalry officer examine the removed limb to check that the leg had been removed for good reason!
Next time, the strange tale of Lord Uxbridge’s leg.
Mick Crumplin is the author of The Bloody Fields of Waterloo: Medical Support at Wellington’s Greatest Battle. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.