Thomas Alfred Perry Marsh, Surgeon-Major…

Continuing the research into the family history of a friend, Heidi Mellings. Thomas Alfred Perry Marsh was born on 23rd Feb 1856, a younger brother of Mary Marsh, Heidi’s great-great-grandmother.

From his initials, he was known as “Tap”.

He was destined for a medical career and, following school, attended University College Bristol where he had a dazzling record, sweeping the board in terms of academic prizes – Clark Scholar in Surgery, Sanders Scholar in Medicine and Haberfield Prize Winner in Medicine, Surgery and Obstetrics. He continued his professional qualifications at St. George’s Hospital, London.

He was admitted to the Royal College of Surgeons on 28th April 1881. For a short time he was house surgeon at Weston-Super-Mare hospital but then elected to join the army and was gazetted Surgeon on 29th July 1882, joining the Royal Victoria Military Hospital at Netley.

A couple of years later he was posted to India, based in Madras and was then attached to the British force engaged in the 3rd Anglo-Burmese War of 1885-87, being the surgeon attached to a battery of field artillery. He was present at several engagements near Nyngyam and Yemethen.

By 1894, he was stationed at the garrison in Gibraltar and was promoted Surgeon-Major on 29th July 1894.

In 1897, Thomas married Cecelia Bacquera, a Spanish lady from a Malaga family who he presumably met while stationed in Gibraltar.

On 4th Nov 1899, at the outbreak of the 2nd Boer War, he sailed to South Africa on board the “SS Kildonan Castle” where he took charge of the No. 3 Stationary Hospital, set up at De Aar, a strategically important junction between Cape Town and Kimberley. Before the set-up of the hospital was completed it was inundated with wounded from three actions in rapid succession.

Then, with conditions at the hospital still very poor, and coinciding with Lord Roberts’ offensive in Orange Free State, enteric fever (or typhoid as we know it now), broke out.

It was at this point that Thomas’ own health broke down and he was evacuated to the Imperial Yeomanry Hospital at Deelfontein to recuperate. However, once there it was discovered he had contracted typhoid himself and he died there on 22nd May 1900, aged 44.

He was buried in the hospital cemetery.

In his obituary in the British Medical Journal it was said:

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