Medical Miscellany

Guest author Iain Macleod, retired consultant and honorary clinical senior lecturer in dental & maxillofacial radiology, tells us more about an object in our Collection that once belonged to his father.

In the early 1950’s my late father, Dr Ian R. Macleod, was conscripted into the army as part of “national service”. As a doctor, he was enlisted as an officer in the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) and spent his time attached to various military units within the UK eventually ending up at Fort George near Inverness. At some point, he was charged with clearing out an old medical unit and dispose of all its contents. Despite his remit, he decided to keep this field surgeon’s pharmacy kit.


The leather case comprises several glass and cork stoppered bottles/vials, a pair of weighing scale and associated apothecary weights. On the case are the initials of what is believed to be two medical officers, RCW and HHH of the 58th dated 1872.

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The 58th was a Regiment of foot also known as the Rutlandshire Regiment. From 1864 until their return to the UK in 1874, they were based in India. Unfortunately, a trawl of the records has failed to find out who RCW or HHH were. There are reports of severe outbreaks of cholera and other “pyrexic” infectious conditions during the Rutlandshire Regiment’s tour of duty. These infectious conditions were most likely malaria; although, interestingly, syphilis and gonorrhoea were also on the records when the regiment returned to England.

If only such artefacts could talk, they would have such tales to tell. If anyone can add to the story of whom RCW or HHH might be- we would be happy to hear!


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