RAMC

Lady Doctors of the Malta Garrison
No 23 Gorrie Eleanor Amelia

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No 23 Dr Eleanor Amelia Gorrie MB ChB (Ed 1907)
17 Apr 1881 – 11 Jan 1960 [Whitstable, Kent]

Introduction

In May 1916, Dr Louisa Aldrich-Blake, Surgeon at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital and Dean of the London School of Medicine for Women, approached all the women on the Medical Register asking them to say if they would be willing to serve with the Royal Army Medical Corps. From the replies received, 48 lady doctors were enrolled. The first 22 medical women embarked for Malta on 2 August 1916; another 16 lady doctors embarked on the Hospital Ship Gloucester Castle on 12 August 1916.

The Director General Army Medical Services, Sir Alfred Keogh, was responsible for employing medical women and for dealing with illnesses among them. Women doctors, also referred to as lady doctors, were classed as civilian surgeons attached to the RAMC. Women serving as full time doctors in the Army and doing precisely the same work as their male colleagues had neither military rank nor status, but received the same pay, rations, travelling allowances and gratuity as temporary commissioned male officers of the Royal Army Medical Corps. A uniform was not introduced until after April 1918. This was similar in appearance to that worn by the Queen Mary's Auxiliary Army Corps (QMAAC) but with an RAMC badge on both lapels.

In October 1916, on hearing from the War Office that fifty more medical women were needed for service with the RAMC in English hospitals, Aldrich-Blake again negotiated with all the women who had qualified in the preceding ten years, and secured the requisite number in a very short time. On 20 October 1916, eleven medical women embarked on the Hospital Ship Britannic for Malta.

The casualties from operations in Gallipoli (25 April 1915 – 9 January 1916), and Salonica (October 1915 – 30 September 1918), were initially treated in Malta and Egypt, but in 1917, submarine attacks on hospital ships made it unsafe to evacuate from Salonica and five General Hospitals, Nos 61, 62, 63, 64 and 65, mobilized in Malta for service in Salonica to which the medical women were attached.

Between August 1916 and July 1917, eighty two lady doctors served in war hospitals in Malta. They worked alongside their RAMC colleagues and carried out all but administrative duties. Their assistance was very highly appreciated. Their work was recognized in the King's Birthday Honours list of June 1918 when Dr Barbara Martin Cunningham MB ChB, Military Hospital Mtarfa, Mrs Katharine Rosebery Drinkwater MB BS, in charge of Military Families Staff and Department Malta and Miss May Thorne MD, in charge of Sisters' Hospital and Staff Department Malta, were awarded the Order of the British Empire for services rendered during the war.

Service Record — Eleanor Amelia Gorrie

Dr Eleanor Amelia Gorrie was baptized at the Free Church, Dalkieth, Midlothian on 15 May 1881, a daughter of George Hutton Gorrie and Mary Jane Krith.

She qualified in Edinburgh in 1907 having won a George Heriot Bursary for Women (Medicine) at Edinburgh University on her matriculation from George Watson's Ladies College (recorded in the University's Calendar for 1900); she was awarded her degrees with First Class Honours, and came 2nd in her class (1908 Calendar).

She was Resident Medical Officer at the Infectious Disease Hospital Stoke on Trent, Clinical Assistant West Riding Asylum Wakefield and Senior Assistant at the Sanatorium at Bridge of Weir, Scotland for Consumptives.

28 July 1900 Passed the First Professional examination for the degrees of Medicine and Surgery of the University of Edinburgh. Qualified in 1907 and her name was entered in the the Medical Register on 10 April 1907.

1911 Recorded in the 1911 Census as the sole Resident Medical Officer, with a Matron and 27 nurses, at the Infectious Diseases Hospital Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire.

1913 Recorded in the Medical Register of 1913 as residing at 35 Warrender Road, Edinburgh.

Feb 1916 The Sanitary Record and Municipal Engineer dated 25 February 1916 announced that:

At the last meeting of the Borough Council, the Committee reported that they had received three applications, and they recommended the appointment of Dr Eleanor Amelia Gorrie, who is at present acting as locum tenens at the central Tuberculosis Dispensary. After a long discussion, an amendment was carried substituting the name of the second candidate, Dr Arthur B S Cooke, of Kennington Park Road, for that of Dr Gorrie.

July 1916 Contracted to work for 12 months as a Civilian Surgeon attached to the RAMC. Her salary was 24 shillings a day including allowances, but excluding duty transport. A gratuity of £60 was awarded at the end of the contract, provided employment was not terminated for misconduct. Most of the medical women were invited to renew their contracts at the expiry of their first year's work.

12 Aug 1916 Embarked from Southampton for Malta on the Hospital Ship Gloucester Castle as part of the Women's Medical Unit RAMC.

12 Aug 1916 – 22 Nov 1917 Attached to St Andrew's Military Hospital.

Malta 22 Nov 1917 Declared unfit by a Medical Board. Was granted leave and left Malta on 22 November 1917.

1917 The Medical Directory lists her address as Dalkeith House, 78 Bow Road East.

1 Dec 1917 – 31 Dec 1917 Granted leave by a Medical Board.

21 Jan 1918 A Medical Board declared her fit for Home Service only, and was posted to London.

5 Feb 1918 – 11 Aug 1918 On duty with Western Command.

1923 Tuberculosis Medical Officer on the staff of the Public Health Department of the Metropolitan Borough of Camberwell.

1926 – 1939 Recorded in Kelly's Directory and Harrow & Wembley Electoral Registers residing at 31 Monks Park, Wembley, Middlesex with her two unmarried sisters.

1942 Assistant Tuberculosis Officer the Camberwell Tuberculosis Dispensary. The Dispensary which was situated at 19 Brunswick Square, came under the control of the Borough Council in April 1921. Prior to that date, it was directed by a voluntary organisation. Dr William Brand was the Tuberculosis Officer for Camberwell in 1926. He was still in post in 1930.

In the 1942 Annual Report of the Medical Officer of Health for the Borough of Camberwell, dated at Camberwell Town Hall 30 September 1943, H W Barnes wrote:

To assist Dr Eleanor Gorrie, the Assistant Tuberculosis Officer, the Council of the neighbouring Borough of Southwark approved the loan of the services of their Tuberculosis Officer, Dr Pritchard, for the purpose of conducting one clinic weekly at the Camberwell Tuberculosis Dispensary.

11 Jan 1960 Died at Whitstable, Kent. She remained unmarried.

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