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3/2950 Captain George Redpath - New Zealand Medical Corp
 
The son of George and Charlotte Redpath was born in Dunedin on 14th November 1892 the family would move
when he was an infant to Gisborne and farmed at Rakauroa.[i] George attended primary school in the area before attending high school in Gisborne. George did well at school being the dux of Gisborne High School in 1909 and
obtaining high enough marks in the Senior National Scholarship to be able to enter, in 1910, the Medical School at
Otago University.
 
In 1914 on the outbreak of war George, who was in his final year of studies, on 20th August 1914 enlisted with other medical students in the Field Ambulance, New Zealand Medical Corp (NZMC).  On 27th August 1914, as Sergeant
Redpath, he attended a camp in Epson, Auckland with twenty two other medical students[ii]. This was  in preparation to overseas service with the main body of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force.
 
On 16th October 1914 twenty –two of the men sailed with the, Field Ambulance, New Zealand Medical Corp for service
in Egypt and Gallipoli, George however did not sail with the force. George’s first military file notes that on 9th October 1914 he was discharged at ‘his own request.’[iii]  Redpath family history is that while he may have passed his exam he
was not registered possibly as gynaecology and obstetric training was not completed.[iv]
 
George in April 1915 was working as a doctor in the Porirua Mental Hospital where he certified the death of a mental patient[v] and is mentioned in the annual report, published in August 1916, on Porirua Mental Hospital:[vi]
 
‘Dr Redpath was on duty for about two months in the autumn, and did good work.
He left to join the Army Medical Service, and is now on duty in Mesopotamia.’
 
George would have travelled privately to England to join the British Royal Army Medical Corp (RAMC). in July 1915 he
was first listed as a Lieutenant and the following year promoted to Captain.[vii]  George was first posted to France where his progress was noted, February 1916, in the Otago Daily Times.[viii]
 
          ‘Amongst the Gisborne boys who have been serving with the British Forces in France
          is George Redpath, son of Mrs Redpath, of Rakaoroa (says the Gisborne Times).
This young man proved a brilliant pupil at Gisborne School, and subsequently at the
Gisborne High School. He chose for himself a medical career, and after obtaining the
highest honours at Gisborne, entered Otago University where he had a successful
course passing his final examination as a doctor. In March he went to England to join
the Royal Army Medical Corps, and subsequently proceeded to France on active service.
Since being at the front he has had numerous narrow escapes, both from snipers and
poisonous  gas. On one occasion he was slightly affected by gas, but quickly recovered:
but in the Battle of Loos, in September, he received a dose of poisonous vapour, as the
result of which he was invalided back to England. Fortunately, he has made a good
recovery, and is now convalescent at Falmouth, doing light duties.’
 
The Battle of Loos was the first battle in which British used gas, in this instance chlorine, against the Germans. The
gas was released with the intention of it being blown over the German trenches which would then be subjected to
an infantry assault. In some areas the wind changed direction blowing back over the British position and along with
the fact that the gas masks of the time were crude and ineffective many soldiers removed them as they could not
see or breath. Over 2000 British soldiers’ became casualties with seven fatalities. Possibly, the then, Lieutenant
Redpath was one of these casualties.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
British Troops in Gas Masks during the Battle of Loos - September 1916
 
On full recovery George was then sent to the Middle East, Mesopotamia where he was ‘doing duty’ in an isolation
camp and became ill as reported in the Auckland Star, 12th September 1916.[ix]
 
            ‘Captain George Redpath R.A.M.C., of Gisborne, is now in London, having been
            Invalided from Mesopotamia, where he was attached to the I.E.F. Captain
            Redpath hopes to be fit for active service again shortly. He met a few
            Wellington men in Mesopotamia, and they were delighted to have New
            Zealand papers. He was doing duty at an isolation camp in Mesopotamia,
  and contracted “double tertian” malaria with complication so was returned
  via Bombay. Captain Redpath’s movements are problematical, as he is still
  under medical care.’
 
Following a lengthy recovery Captain Redpath ‘ at his own request’ resigned from the RAMC and on 19th July 1917
enlisted as 3/2950 Captain Redpath. Initially with the Head Quarters he was attached as a medical officer to the NZ Machinegun School at Gratham. Captain Reid was back in London and about to go to Egypt when on 24th August 1917
he was wounded as reported later in the Christchurch Press, 26th November 1917[x] :
 
            ‘Two New Zealand officers, Major G Craig (Waihi) and Captain G Redpath, who were staying
            At the Bedford Hotel, on the night of one of the air raids, and were slightly injured by a
  bomb which fell in the street. Major Craig afterwards went to hospital, suffering from bomb fragments in the leg,      and Captain Redpath had a minor injury to his ear. In both cases the injury is not serious, and the two officers  assisted to attend the other persons injured by the bomb.  Major Craig, was on the point of leaving for Egypt, but is now under treatment at Walton-on-Thames.....’
 
Captain Redpath’s wound was only slight and he was not admitted to hospital and two days later, on 26th August 1917, departed for Egypt.  Captain Redpath was attached  to the 4th Battalion of the Imperial Camel Corp but then had a number of spell in hospital in Cairo, possibly a reoccurrence of his malaria ,eventually being classified as  ‘Nervous and exhausted.’
 
On 28th December 1917 Captain Reid was ‘on duty’ on the Tofu coming back to New Zealand with sick and wounded however there was a recommendation that he not returned to Egypt.
 
There is considerable correspondence on file about Captain Redpath and his condition from December 1917. In a confidential coded cable from “Zealania”, Cairo to “Defence”, Wellington on why Captain Redpath should not go back to Egypt noting, ‘Captain Redpath over indulgence in liquor.’[xi]  George Redpath was discharged from the NZEF on the
14th April 1918 and returned to his mother at Rakauroa where he remained while the Defence Force and his family struggled to get him the appropriate treatment. George Redpath applied to be registered as a medical practitioner on 24th June 1918.
 
On the 10th October 1918 George Redpath married Mary Isabella Mortleman[xii]
 
 
 
Mary Isabella and George Redpath – Christmas 1918
 
 
 
Mary came from family living in the same Gisborne area as the
Redpaths. It was in this area that during the SpanishFlu Epidemic
of 1918 that ‘ George worked day and night doctoring the flu
victims in the Rakauroa, Matawai and Motu districts. Only one
patient died. He recommended to avoid the flu that a mixture
made with condy's crystals and saltbe gargled and sniffed up
the nose at least once a day. The treatment kept the flu away.’[xiii]
This is tempered howeverby a comment from a wider family
member writing in April 1919 ‘ at the time of the influenza epidemic
he did goodwork but broke down as soon as his work was over
and I feel it is most unsafe for himself and others while he is in
this condition.’[xiv]
 
 
Dr George Redpath did go for treatment at Hamner Springs, and presumably sober, took up a position as the doctor
on the Chatham Islands moving to the island in April 1920. He was made a Justice of the Peace (JP) a Sherriff and also
a member of the Island Licensing Committee however tragedy struck the couple when on the 21st September 1920
Mary died in childbirth.
 
George would continue to be impacted by alcoholism he was reported to be in Whitiaranga Hospital for treatment
where he met Isabella Manson MacDonald. Isabella was the Matron of the facility, an older woman,  she had nursed
with the Queen Alexander’s Royal Army Nursing Corp during World War One. They would marry in 1923.[xv]  
 
Isabella died in 1950 and George in 1951.
 
References:
Chris Korte’s New Zealand Genealogy Project – Dr George Redpath (1892 – 1951)
Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Files: 3/2950 Captain George Redpath
History Learning Site – Poison Gas and World War One
NZ Department of Internal Affairs - BDM
 
Photos:
Gas - Battle of Loos  - September 1916: Google Images
George and Mary – Christmas 1918: Marian Lewes, Gisborne
 
 
[i] Dr George Redpath – Chris Korte’s New Zealand Geneology Project
[ii] Field force at Epsom (28th August 1914) Auckland Star
[iii] Archway Archives New Zealand Military File: 3/2950 Captain George Redpath (Sergeant Redpath)
[iv] Dr George Redpath – Chris Korte’s New Zealand Geneology Project
[v] Mental Hospital Patient Death (12th April 1915) Dominion
[vi] Annual Report Porirua Mental Hospital (5th August 1916) Evening Post
[vii] Archway Archives New Zealand Military File: 3/2950 Captain Redpath ( Captain Redpath RAMC)
[viii] The Gisborne Boys (3rd February 1916) Otago Daily Times
[ix] New Zealanders and the War (12th September 1916) Auckland Star
[x] On Service Personal Notes about New Zealanders (26th November 1917) Christchurch Press
[xi] Archway Archives New Zealand Military File: 3/2950 Captain George Redpath
[xii] NZ BDB 1918/5990 Redpath-Mortleman
[xiii] Dr George Redpath – Chris Korte’s New Zealand Geneology Project
[xiv] Archway Archives New Zealand Military file: 3/2950 Captain George Redpath (Letter to Ministry of Defence April 1919.)
[xv] Dr George Redpath – Chris Korte’s New Zealand Geneology Project
 
 
 
 
British Troops in Battle of Loos Gas Attack  1916