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Porirua Mental Hospital - Samoa Expeditionary Force - August 1914

Alexander Cameron McKillop was born at Blaragie Farm House, Laggan, Badenoch, Scotland on 9th March 1884, the son of a farmer. He attended Edinburgh University graduating with Bachelors of Medicine and Surgery. 

 

In 1909 he was registered as a Doctor and in 1910 was employed as the Senior Assistant Medical Officer at the District Asylum, Inverness.

In 1910 the New Zealand Government was looking to recruit single medical staff, at all levels,from the United Kingdom to staff mental institutes in New Zealand. The New Zealand High Commission in London was tasked with ‘to select and recruit a senior medical officer and three junior assistants for New Zealand Mental Hospital.’[i] The High Commission announced in August 1911 the appointment of Dr Alexander C McKillop as the senior medical officer along with three junior assistants who left England that month for New Zealand.

In New Zealand Dr McKillop was appointed as the Superintendant of the Porirua Mental Hospital taking up the position in 1912. He also applied for and was appointed to the reserves of the New Zealand Medical Corps (NZMC), New Zealand Defence Force[ii]  with the rank of Captain. On the declaration of war in 1914 Captain McKillop volunteered for active service and was appointed to No 4 Field Ambulance and then with the NZMC attachment of the Samoa Expedition Force as 3/43 Captain A C McKillop.[iii]

‘Dr McKillop, and Farrier-Sergeant Schoch[iv], who are to leave with the Expeditionary Force, are members of the Porirua Mental Hospital staff. They were given a great send-off at the local railway station last night.’[v]

3/43 Captain McKillop returned to New Zealand and was posted to Trentham Camp where he was active in the  recruitment and training of men for the 2nd Reinforcements. Many of those selected for the NZMC of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force were staff from Porirua Mental Hospital who had previously worked and played association football with Doctor McKillop.

  McKillopAC3 43

On 21st October 1914 prior to the departure of the 2nd Reinforcements Medical Corps, Captain McKillop was promoted to Temporary Major.

 

Photo:Temporary Major Alexander Cameron McKillop

 

The temporary appointment was only while he was attached to the Expeditionary Force and when the promotion was noted in the New Zealand Gazette, 7th February 1915 it resulted in a sharp response from General Godley, Commanding NZ Expeditionary Forces, dated 8th February 1915, to the Minister of Defence.

‘Extract from 39/89 Appointments:- With reference to your cable received on 7th inst. stating that Captain McKillop, NZMC had been gazetted to the temporary rank of Major while serving with the Expeditionary Force, I would point out that this promotion makes him senior to several New Zealand Medical Corps Officers senior to him who are serving with the main force, and they are naturally sore at having a junior officer passed over their heads in this manner.

I would ask that in future, if it is desired to give temporary high rank to an officer during duty in the training camp in New Zealand, or coming with reinforcements, such rank may be for the period of training camp or voyage only, and may lapse on arrival with the Expeditionary Force.’[vi]

In Egypt Major McKillop was attached to the New Zealand Engineers and sailed with this unit on 12th April 1915, for the landings at Gallipoli.  At ANZAC Cove Major McKillop was hospitalised in May with measles and then in June was evacuated with appendicitis, first to Malta and then to the NZ General Hospital in Brockenhurst, England and did not return to his unit until October 1915. Major McKillop was again evacuated on 21st November 1915, to Egypt, this time with Enteric Fever (Dysentery).

Following treatment in Cairo, Major McKillop was assessed on 15th December 1915 by a medical board who decided the effects of the Gallipoli campaign, plus the impact of the dysentery, meant Major McKillop was not fit for active duty and would be returned to New Zealand ‘for a change.’[vii]

Major McKillop returned to New Zealand on 15th March 1916 and following treatment, was given leave and on 16th May 1916 he married Olive Isabel Smith.[viii]  Major McKillop was reassessed by a medical board which decided that he was not fit to return to active duty and on 25th May 1916 he was discharged.

Doctor McKillop returned to duty in New Zealand Mental Institutes being employed at Nelson, Porirua and Sunnyside Institute, Christchurch.

The McKillops had five children, two boys and three girls and also raced pigeons and bred dogs.

In 1939 New Zealand was again at war and Doctor McKillop, as 31139 Lieutenant Colonel A C McKillop, was appointed as Office In Charge (OIC) of the No1 General Hospital, New Zealand Medical Corps. The No1 General Hospital was originally to go to Egypt but the entry of Italy to the war resulted in the No1 General Hospital being re-established at Brockenhurst, England, where in WW1 McKillop had been a patient.

 

Brockenhurst hospital

 

New Zealand No1 General Hospital

Brockenhurst c1918

 

The No 1 General Hospital was transferred in 1940 to Egypt where on 1st October 1940 Lieutenant-Colonel McKillop was promoted to Colonel.[ix] The New Zealand Division then moved as part of the ‘Lustre Force’ to support the Greek Government then under attack by Axis forces. The Lustre Force retreated from Greece and Colonel McKillop returned to Egypt in October 1941. General Freyberg mentioned in dispatches (MID) Colonel McKillop’s efforts in Greece.

‘The King has been graciously pleased to approve that the following be Mentioned in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in the Middle East during the period July, 1941, to October, 1941.  NZ Military Forces - Col A C McKillop (31139)’[x]

Colonel McKillop returned to New Zealand in 1941 and was then posted to Fiji before in 1943, after assessment by a medical board, was placed on the military retirement lists and returned to civilian life.

Dr McKillop received the OBE in 1954 and died, in Christchurch, in 1958.  

Notes:

The two sons of Alexander and Alice McKillop served in WW2. 404966 Sergeant Donald Alan Cameron McKillop was killed in action, 1943, Italy and his brother 454048 Corporal Alasdair Iain Cameron McKillop severely wounded in 1944 also in Italy.

Photos:

Temporary Major McKillop:  Onward Portraits of the New Zealand Expeditionary Forces – Beattie & Pomeroy

Brockenhurst Hospital No1 Headquarters I: G E Woolley 1919 – Archway Archives New Zealand

References:

Military File: Alexander Cameron McKillop – Archives New Zealand



[i] Appointments for New Zealand: Wanganui Chronicle 30 November 1911

[ii] NZDF Appointment A.C. McKillop: Military Records – Archives New Zealand

[iii] 3/43 Captain Alexander Cameron McKillop: Military files – Archives New Zealand

[iv] 2/7 Company Quartermaster Sergeant Major (CQSM) William George Schoch, New Zealand Field Artillery.

[v] Personal notes: Evening Post 11 August 1914

[vi] Appointments 3/43 Temporary Major McKillop: Military files – Archives New Zealand

[vii] 3/43 Major Alexander Cameron McKillop: Military Records – Archives New Zealand

[viii] 1916/5383 Smith / McKillop: New Zealand BDM

[ix] 31139 Colonel A C McKillop: Military Records – Archives New Zealand

[x] Extract supplement London Gazette, 26 June 1942.

Last Updated: 29/07/2014 11:24pm