Educated at the Academy and graduated at the University of Edinburgh.
30 July 1881 Surgeon-Captain.
Malta 5 Aug 1882 Arrived from England.
Malta 20 Apr 1883 To England by exchange.
1885 Served in the Sudan.
9 Oct 1886 On duty at Mhow Station Hospital in the Bombay Command. Detailed for service in Burma.
1886–87 Served in Burma.
Apr 1888 Surgeon W G Birrell, serving in the Bombay command, having returned from field service in Burma, was posted to general duty in the Presidency District.
30 July 1893 Surgeon-Major.
1898 Served in the Nile Campaign.
30 July 1901 Lieutenant Colonel RAMC.
15 Mar 1911 Colonel L/RAMC.
1914 Served in the Great War.
1 Mar 1915 Surgeon General. Director Medical Services Mediterranean Expeditionary Force during the earlier operations in Gallipoli. On his return to England he was appointed Deputy Director Medical Services of the Southern Command. Remained in post until his retirement through ill health a few months prior to his death.
23 Oct 1918 Died suddenly through illness contracted on service. "In private life his love of Scotland, of his rod and his gun were perhaps his outstanding characteristics. Always able and clear-headed, no officer had a higher sense of duty, for no labour deterred him, no rebuff dismayed him, if thereby he could carry through what he believed to be right and best for the well-being of the Army and for the care of the sick and wounded".1