Surgeon Major Thomas Babington entered the Army Medical Department as a surgeon in 1864. He served in the First Boer War of 1881 when he was present in the engagements at Laing's Nek (mentioned in despatches) and the Ingogo River (mentioned in dispatches).
Surgeon Major Thomas Babington, Surgeons James Ring and James McGann were all mentioned by Sir George Colley in his despatch of 1 February 1881, for distinguished service in attending to the wounded under fire at the battle of Laing's Nek.
The British Medical Journal reported:
Ninety-five invalids left Natal for England in the Thames on 30 April 1881. Most of them were from the 58th, 6oth, and 92nd Regiments, who were wounded at the battles of Laing's Nek, Schuinshoogte and Majuba Hill. The shower of bullets must have been heavy indeed, for many of them were shot in two or three places. There were penetrating wounds of the chest, abdomen, groins, hips, legs, arms, joints and eyes. An examination of these men and their wounds proves how much credit is due to Drs Babington, Ring, and McGann of the army and Dr Mahon of the navy, who were in the front during the whole of this critical period, for the care and skill which has resulted in the recovery of such serious injuries. Surgeon-Major Stokes, at the base-hospital, Newcastle, had many successful cases after the battle of the Ingogo.1