Assistant Surgeon James Thomson
MD (St And 1844)
8 Mar 1823 [Cromarty] – 5 Oct 1854 [Balaclava]
11 Feb 1848 Assistant Surgeon 7th Dragoons.
11 Jan 1850 Assistant Surgeon Reserve Battalion 44th (East Essex) Regiment of Foot.
Joined his regiment in April.
20 Mar 1850 Arrived from England when the cholera broke out, and shortly proved fatal to all the surgeons of the corps, himself alone excepted. The skill, fortitude, and humanity, displayed by him in arresting the progress of that disease, gained for him the praises of the Commander-in-Chief.1
May 1850 Transferred to the 44th Regiment following the amalgamation of the Reserve Battalion with the 44th Foot.
6 May 1851 Left for Gibraltar.
15 Mar 1854 Arrived from Gibraltar.
4 Apr 1854 Left for Turkey and the Crimea.
5 Oct 1854 Present at the Battle of Alma.
Died at Balaclava from Cholera. As there was a shortage of medical officers in the hospital at Balaclava, he was detailed to work in the cholera wards, and though only on duty for 34 hours he became infected and died nine hours later.
In 1857 an Obelisk to his memory was erected on the Castle Hill of Forres by public subscription started by Sir James McGrigor. The memorial states:
He was present with the 44th Foot at the Battle of the Alma in 1854, and a few days afterwards, when the British were leaving the field, he volunteered to remain behind with seven hundred desperately wounded Russians. Isolated from his countrymen and endangered by the vicinity of large bodies of Cossacks, ill supplied with food, and exposed to the risk of pestilence, he succeeded in restoring to health about four hundred of the enemy, and embarking them for Odessa. He then died, from the effects of excessive hardship and privation. This public monument is erected as a tribute of respect for the virtue of an officer whose life was useful and whose death was glorious.2
- 1The Week. Br Med J (1857), s4-1; 1136: 971 (Published 21 November 1857).
- 2Entry No: 4958. Johnston W. Roll of Commissioned Offices in the Medical Service of the British Army. Vol. 1. London: Wellcome Historical Medical Library, 1968.
- Succession Book Vol. 5. Returns of service of medical officers in the Regular Army.