264 Assistant Surgeon John Wyatt
CB (mil 1873) MRCS (1848) FRCS (1866)
22 Oct 1825 [Bognor Sussex] – 2 Apr 1874 [Bournemouth]
Surgeon Major John Wyatt qualified in May 1848. In 1854, he embarked with the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards on the Eastern Expedition. He served with the battalion in Turkey and the Crimea until the end of the war. He was present at the Battles of Alma, Balaklava and Inkerman, where his horse was shot, and in the siege and fall of Sebastopol. He received the Crimea Medal with four clasps, the Turkish Medal and was made a Knight of the French Legion of Honour (5th Class) (London Gazette 1 May 1857).
In 1870, Surgeon Major Wyatt and Deputy Inspector General Gordon CB were accredited to the French army so as to study the system of hygiene and hospital arrangements in the field during the Franco Prussian War. They remained in Paris throughout the siege and
collected voluminous records during their seclusion from the outer world. These records included copious notes on: the injuries of the wounded received into the Parisian hospitals, military and volunteer; on the surgical operations performed, and their results; on the transport arrangements from the outworks and after the different sorties; on the system adopted for providing food of the requisite quality and variety; on the steps taken to preserve the health of the population throughout the siege. These notes, together with numerous observations on a variety of allied subjects, when published cannot fail to prove a valuable store of materials for study and reference, not only to army medical officers, but also to members of the medical profession in general.5
Surgeon Major Wyatt published:
- Gunshot injury of the hand and threatened tetanus. Lancet 30 May 1868.
- The Wimbledon Camp and the dry earth system of conservancy. Lancet 3 July 1879
- Report of cases treated at the Guards Hospital. Lancet 23 February 1867.
Surgeon Major John Wyatt died at Bournemouth in April 1874 while regimental Surgeon Major Coldstream Guards. His will, dated 26 June 1873 was proved on 17 July by Sir Henry William Peek Bart and John Kendall, the executors, the personal estate being sworn under £10,000.
The testator desires to be buried in the full-dress uniform of his regiment, in which he had passed the best part of an eventful life, and that the Bible given to him by his wife may be buried with him; that the horses used at the funeral may not be decorated in any manner; that the hired attendants may not wear any hatbands or scarves; that each person attending his funeral may wear only a black band of medium width, crape for relations and cloth for friends, round his hat, black gloves and a white rose or camelia, or other white flower in the button hole of his coat, as he wishes the ceremony to be as free as possible from all gloomy associations, and to be considered more as an occasion for rejoicing than mourning, in accordance with Holy Scripture, especially as he desires that no description of widow's cap or any crape on her dresses may be worn by his wife, or any particle of crape on the clothes of any of his relations.1
Service Record — John Wyatt
25 May 1851 Acting Assistant Surgeon.
17 June 1851 Staff Assistant Surgeon.
25 July 1851 Appointed Assistant Surgeon 5th Regiment of Dragoon Guards vice Assistant Surgeon William Arden, promoted Staff Surgeon of the 2nd Class. Arden filled the vacancy created by the promotion of Staff Surgeon Robert Allen to Surgeon 17th Foot, vice Surgeon William Smith who retired on half-pay. Acting Assistant Surgeon James McGrigor Laing, became Staff Assistant Surgeon vice Wyatt.
1 Apr 1853 Assistant Surgeon 2nd/Coldstream Guards.
Malta 4 Mar 1854 Arrived from England. At Fort Manoel
21 Apr 1854 Left for Turkey.
20 Nov 1854 Assistant Surgeon 1st/Coldstream Guards at Camp above Sebastapol. Placed requisitions for brandy and medicines on the pharmacy at Balaclava and on the Divisional Medical Stores to deal with 30 to 40 soldiers with severe diarrhoea being treated in his regimental hospital. Medical stores to the Lines above Sebastapol from Balaclava were delayed in broken down arabas due to the impassable state of the roads.
9 Apr 1857 Appointed surgeon.
26 Feb 1858 Appointed Battalion Surgeon Coldstream Guards vice Surgeon Joseph Skelton, who died on 8 April 1857. His promotion was not to carry pay prior to 24 January 1858.
9 Jan 1863 Surgeon Major Coldstream Guards.
20 Mar 1868 Advocated the use of common water-cress (liquor nasturtii) for the treatment of scurvy.
The memorable campaign in the Crimea practically taught me and many others the incalculable value of even such snatches of vegetation as could be procured from the banks of the rivers; and well do I remember the appetising sight of the little dishes of indigenous salad to be seen so often in the French camps, composed of a small species of water-cress, dandelion, and sorrel; while our men were feeding strictly on the regulation food, and suffering in consequence......When the hospital ships in connection with the Abyssinian expedition were being fitted out, I took the liberty of addressing a communication on the subject to the authorities, and was informed that my suggestion respecting this anti scorbutic remedy, as being likely to be useful to the troops in Abyssinia, would be communicated to the Government of Bombay; subsequently, however, Messrs Savory and Barker, at my request, most liberally transmitted a supply to several of the large metropolitan hospitals, Dreadnought, and Royal Naval Hospital; and, through the kindness of the chief of the Army Medical Department, I have received a constant supply for the use of my regimental hospital, and he has been good enough to promise to facilitate its employment elsewhere.2
July 1869 Officer in charge of the medical arrangements of the Wimbledon Volunteer Medical Association.
1 Sept 1870 Medical Commissioner at Head Quarters of the French Army during the Franco Prussian War. Was present during the siege and bombardment of Paris by the Prussians. Wyatt expressed his opinion that
the British medical regimental system, whatever may be its advantages in time of peace, is too cumbersome and costly, too little efficient for the purposes of a campaign, to be upheld under such circumstances.3.
Nov 1871 Expressed his view that civil surgeons were allegedly ignorant of the treatment of gun shot wounds and that military surgeons showed
a particular superiority in the treatment of such injuries in civil life.4
2 Apr 1874 Died at Bournemouth while regimental Surgeon Major Coldstream Guards.
- Drew R., 1968. Entry No: 5066. 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.
- 1The late Surgeon Major Wyatt. Br Med J (1874); 2: 227. (Published 15 August 1874).
- 2Nasturtium Officinale. Br Med J (1868); 2: 364. (Published 11 April 1868).
- The Wimbledon Volunteer Medical appointment and the National Rifle Association. Br Med J (1869); 2: 601. (Published 26 June 1869).
- 3The reports of the medical commissioners with the Franco-German armies. Br Med J (1871); 2: 617. (Published 25 November 1871).
- 4Gun shot injuries. Br Med J (1871); 2: 619. (Published 25 November 1871).
- 5British commissioners in Paris with the Franco-German armies. Br Med J (1871); 1: 174. (Published 18 February 1871).
- Dictionary of National Biography 1885-1900 vol 63.