1166 Surgeon Major Henry William Alexander MacKinnon
DSO (1886) MRCS (Eng 1864) LSAL (1865)
2 Nov 1841 [At sea on board St George] – 28 Mar 1905 [Weybridge]
Lieutenant Colonel Henry William Alexander MacKinnon entered the Army Medical Department as an assistant surgeon on 2 October 1865. He retired from the service on 26 October 1895.
He served in the Egyptian war of 1882, being present at the battle of Tel-el-Kebir, where he was slightly wounded (medal with clasp and Khedive's Bronze Star). He was also in the Burmese campaign in 1885–1886 with the Upper Burmah Field Force under Sir George White, part of the time as Principal Medical Officer. He was mentioned in Sir Frederick Roberts despatches and made a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order. He received a medal with clasp.
Lieutenant Colonel Henry William Alexander MacKinnon died at Weybridge aged 63 years.
2 Oct 1865 Appointed Staff Assistant Surgeon.
1866–1867 Served in Bengal.
7 Dec 1867 Exchanged with Assistant Surgeon Acheson George Bartley 101st Royal Bengal Fusiliers.
11 Apr 1868 Appointed Assistant Surgeon Royal Artillery. Served with 8th Bde RA (1868–1870) at Lucknow and with 22nd Bde RA (1870–1871) at Mean Meer and F Royal Horse Artillery (1871–1873) at Umballa.
1 Mar 1873 Promoted Surgeon.
Apr 1873 Moved from the Royal Artillery to the Medical Staff Bengal.
1874–1875 Served in Bengal.
1875 Moved from Bengal to Dover.
Feb 1876 Appointed medical officer 42nd Foot and then to the Medical Staff at Malta.
25 Mar 1876 Arrived from England.
2 Oct 1877 Promoted Surgeon-Major.
24 Aug 1878 To England on duty.
8 Jan 1879 Returned to Malta.
24 May 1880 To England on leave.
24 July 1880 Returned to Malta.
3 Jan 1881 Left Malta for Chatham, England.
1881–1882 On duty at Chatham.
July 1882 Embarked with the Expedition to Egypt with 2 Bde Royal Artillery. Was slightly wounded at the Battle of Tel-el-Kebir. Mentioned in despatches.
Apr 1885 Arrived in India from England and was ordered for duty at Secunderabad.
2 Oct 1885 Promoted Surgeon-Lieutenant-Colonel later Lieutenant Colonel.
Feb 1885 Moved from Canterbury to Madras.
Feb 1885–1887 Serving on the Madras Command. Proceeded with the staff from Madras to serve with the Burma Expeditionary Force, Third Burma War as assistant to the Principal Medical Officer.
Apr 1886 Appointed Principal Medical Officer to the field force in Upper Burma.
Oct 1886 On return from Upper Burma, was ordered to do general duty in the Eastern District, Madras.
Nov 1886 Appointed Senior Medical Officer of the station hospital at Madras from general duty in the Eastern District.
4 Dec 1886 Promoted Brigade-Surgeon in recognition of his services during the operations in the village of Sonidan in 1885–1886.
14 Dec 1886 His promotion to the rank of Brigade–Surgeon from that of Surgeon–Major was cancelled and Mackinnon was made a Companion of the newly-created Distinguished Service Order for his services in the Burmese campaign. (The DSO was instituted on 6 September 1886 with a bar to the Order introduced on 23 August 1916.)
General Sir George White wrote:
The Medical Department has been successfully worked by Deputy Surgeon General Farrell C B, who has conducted his heavy duties with zeal and ability. I would also beg to recall the good services rendered by Surgeon-Major H W A Mackinnon when Principal Medical Officer of the force, in case it may now be possible to grant him the promotion to which he was gazetted, and which was subsequently cancelled.
3 May 1889 Read a paper on the Burma Campaign at the South Indian and Madras Branch of the British Medical Association.
The medical officer's work was incessant; not only was he obliged to accompany columns from posts, and share in the dangers of surprises and ambuscades, but when the troops returned to quarters for a few days his work began again with the attendance on the fresh sick and newly wounded, besides the large hospital list that he had left at his post. Most of them were fairly worn out with diarrhoea, fever and nervous exhaustion.
During the campaign no bodies of troops encountered the enemy without medical aid at hand, and in no campaign had the evidence been so fully confirmed of the utility of the doctor on service. His dogged perseverance at the post of duty, his moral support, which was incalculable, his devotion to his charge, heedless of his own complaints, and serving in many instances on reduced pay and small prospects of recognition, tended to exemplify to his small circle that he was a worthy member of a profession second to none.
The chief forms of disease were malarial fevers (ague and typhomalarial fever), bowel complaints, hepatic abscess, and, among the Europeans, venereal disorders. Intractable diarrhoea merging into dysentery, generally haemorrhagic, was the greatest trouble. Beri-beri was only met with in the northern stations. Cholera attacked the flotilla on the passage up the river in November, but it became more virulent in December after the troops had been landed at Mandalay. Cholera subsequently visited several of the up-country posts.
10 Mar 1892 Promoted Brigade-Surgeon-Lieutenant-Colonel.
Apr 1893 Transferred from the third station hospital at Aldershot to the Thames District as Senior Medical Officer vice Brigade-Surgeon-Lieutenant-Colonel William Winslow Tomlinson.
26 Oct 1895 Retired.
1 Nov 1895–9 Feb 1898 Employed at Reading while on the retired list.
10 Feb 1898–1905 Transferred from Reading to London.
28 Mar 1905 Died at Weybridge, aged 63 years.
- Drew R., 1968. Entry No: 6278. Medical Officers in the British Army 1660 – 1960. Volume 1: 1660 – 1898. London: Wellcome Historical Medical Library.
- RAMC/PE/3/27/Drew. Manuscript for Drew's Roll.
- Succession Book Vol 13. Returns of service of medical officers in the Regular Army.
- Obituary Br Med J (1905); 750 (Published 1 April 1905).
- Reports of Societies - The Burmah Campaign, Br Med J (1890); 1: 76 (Published 11 January 1890).