From World War I Document Archive
Revision as of 22:25, 8 July 2006 by Hirgen
File:HOWSE.GIFHowse, Sir Neville, V.C. K.C.B. F.R.C.S. (1863-1930) Director, Medical Services of the A.I.F.
Neville Howse was born in England in 1863, the son of Dr Alfred Howse who was the Chief Surgeon of the Engineering Corps during the Crimean War.
Neville qualified as a medical practitioner in 1884 and migrated to Australia in 1886, practicing in a country town in New South Wales. He returned temporarily to England to obtain his Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1895 and resumed practice as a surgeon in New South Wales.
When the Boer War started, he volunteered as a Medical Officer in the Militia and was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery when he rescued a Trumpeter who had been shot by a Boer Commando. He rode out to his assistance, under fire, and his horse was shot from under him. He dressed the soldier's wounds and carried him back to safety through heavy crossfire.
This was the first award in the war for bravery to an Australian and also the last to be given to the medical personnel of Australian forces. At the close of the war, in addition to his Victoria Cross for gallantry in the field, he had been awarded the Queen's Medal with six clasps and King's Medal with two clasps.
He again volunteered for the A.I.F. in 1914 and was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. In January 1915 the Anzac Corps was formed and General Bridges appointed Howse, then in charge of the Mena House Hospital in Egypt, to the vacant position of Assistant Director of Medical Services in the 1st Australian Division with the rank of Colonel.
He was at the landing of Gallipoli on the 25th April and landed about 7.15 am on Anzac Beach. He established the Australian Casualty Clearing Station of the 1st Division and arranged for the care of the wounded until cleared from the beach.
Howse was appointed a Companion of the Bath (C.B.). Military Division in June 1915 in recognition of his evacuation of the wounded from Anzac Cove, at the landing. He was wounded whilst supervising clearance from the Advanced Dressing Station at the Lone Pine battle but he remained on duty and was mentioned in despatches for "gallant and distinguished service in the field".
After Gallipoli he was made Director of Medical Services of the A.I.F., responsible for the medical administration of all Australian troops in England, France and Egypt and was made a Knight Commander of the Bath in January 1917.
He resigned from the Army in 1922 to become a Member of Parliament and was appointed Minister of Defence and Health and also Minister for Repatriation of Returned Veterans in 1923. He played a major part in the establishment of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra in 1927.
He died in London in September 1930 and lies in a Soldiers Grave next to his father, in Kensal Green Cemetery. As the first Australian Victoria Cross winner, and the sole V.C in the Australian Army Medical Corps, his portrait hangs in honour in the Hall of Valour in the Australian War Memorial that he had worked so hard to establish.
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