Surgeon David Leslie Porter
8 May 1856 – 21 June 1885 [Wadi Halfa Sudan]
Surgeon David Leslie Porter was born on 8 May 1856 and died at Wadi Halfa in Upper Egypt on 21 June 1885. He entered the Army Medical Services on 5 February 1881 following a competitive examination held in London on 9 August 1880. Sixty nine candidates were successful for appointment as Surgeons in Her Majesty's British Medical Service. The highest mark was scored by Gentleman Samuel Arthur Crick with 2510; the lowest by Gentleman Walter Croker Thomas Poole with 1250 marks. Gentleman David Leslie Porter came 56th with 1430 marks.
In July 1882, he was one of a number of medical officers selected to proceed on active service with the Egyptian Expeditionary Force. Between 13 July and 6 September 1882, two armies, one (24,000 strong) from Britain and the other (7,000 strong) from India, converged on Egypt under the command of Lieutenant General Sir Garnet Wolseley. David Leslie Porter was sent to Malta in 1882, from where he was transferred to Egypt in March 1885.
At the commencement of 1885 a large portion of the Expeditionary Force in Egypt was employed on the borders of the Nile and a number of Station Hospitals were established along the river route. In these, a large number of sick were treated; the prevailing diseases being typhoid fever and dysentery.
Towards the end of January 1885, it was found necessary to dispatch a fresh Expeditionary Force to Suakin and in February medical and sanitary instructions were issued by the Director General of the Army Medical Department for the guidance of the medical staff detailed for duty in the part of the Sudan over which the military operations were to extend. The Force arrived from England at the beginning of March 1885. On 19 March, an advance was made, and in the action which ensued, one of the earliest casualties was Surgeon Isaac Radcliffe Lane, who was shot through his left lung and died on 21 March 1885. Other actions and skirmishes quickly succeeded, and the medical department soon found itself with a large number of wounded under its care.
The action on Sunday 23 March 1885, when the Sudanese made an unexpected attack on the troops under General McNeill, caused an influx of more than 150 wounded into the hospitals at the base. Subsequently to this date, the admissions into the hospitals were chiefly from the effects of diseases, due in a great degree to insanitary conditions which were inherent in the localities occupied by the troops. Typhoid fever and dysentery were severe and increased as the hot season approached. It was probably on this account, as well as on military considerations, that towards the end of April, shortly after the hot season had set in, the Government determined to withdraw the troops from the advanced positions on the Nile, and to revert to a more northern line of frontier. In June, the campaign on the Nile was practically brought to a close.
Service Record — David Leslie Porter
5 Feb 1881 Appointed Surgeon Army Medical Department.
17 Aug 1882 Arrived at Malta from England.
5 Sept 1882 Returned Home on sick leave.
26 Dec 1882 Returned to Malta.
Malta 1883 On garrison duty.
Malta 14 Aug 1884 Home on leave.
Malta 2 Oct 1884 Returned to Malta.
Was cautioned to adopt a less objectional manner in his dealings with soldiers.
In 1884, the recommendations made by Lord Morley's Committee after the war of 1882 in Egypt to improve the medical administration of the army were embodied in the new regulations for the Medical Department. In the new Code of Regulations for the Army Medical Service medical officers were style Officers of the Medical Staff and the men became Attendants in the Medical Staff Corps.
Malta 21 Feb 1885 Left for Egypt on the Suakin Expedition.
21 June 1885 Died at Wady Halfa in Upper Egypt.
- Entry No: 6844. Johnston W. Roll of Commissioned Offices in the Medical Service of the British Army. Vol 1 (20 June 1727-23 June 1898), Aberdeen (1917).
- Succession Books Vol XVI, Returns of statement of service of RAMC Officers.
- Naval and Military Medical Services Br Med J 1885; 2:318 (Published 15 August 1885).