Graduation 2016/1916: Military Medics

Congratulations to all the postgraduate medical students graduating today! Today we look back in time to the medical students of 100 years ago. At this time, the First World War was in full swing so medical graduates were much needed in the war effort. We’ve picked out a few with military links:

Herbert Watt Torrance

Herbert Watt Torrance (DC225/1/14)

Herbert Watt Torrance (DC225/1/14)

Herbert Watt Torrance graduated MBChB from the University in 1916 and MD in 1921.He was born in Tiberias, Palestine in 1892, son of medical missionary Dr David Watt Torrance.

Torrance enrolled at the University in 1911, and during his time received medals for Surgery and Clinical Surgery (1914-1915); seven first class certificates for Physics, Surgery, Clinical Surgery, Diseases of the Ear, Diseases of the Throat and Nose and Practical Pathology; as well as nine second class certificates for Zoology, Anatomy, Practical Botany, Systematic Botany, Pathology, Systematic Embryology, Clinical Medicine (junior and senior) and Midwifery.

During the First World War, Torrance served in France and Serbia with the Royal Army Medical Corps as a regimental medical officer to Lovat Scouts, and later with the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry unit in Italy. He was awarded the Military Cross.

Torrance returned to the University of Glasgow as demonstrator and lecturer and to study for the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons. He was awarded an MD in 1921.

Torrance then returned to Tiberias and in 1923 assumed the post of superintendent of the Scottish Mission hospital that his father had established. He was made an honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons and was awarded an OBE for services rendered during the British Mandate in Palestine.


Sir David Clyde

David Clyde (DC225/1/14)

David Clyde (DC225/1/14)

David Clyde was born on the 30th of March 1894 to Joseph Clyde, a Clothier in Airdrie, Lanarkshire.

He first matriculated at the University of Glasgow in 1911-12, aged 17, to study Medicine. Over the course of his five year medical degree, David would study subjects such as Anatomy, Physiology, Surgery, Pathology, Practise of Medicine and Midwifery. He graduated with an MB ChB on the 9th of October 1916.

Immediately upon graduating, David entered the R.A.M.C. (S.R.) and served in that corps during the WWI. Later, in 1925, he was posted to the United Provinces as assistant director of public health in the civil public health service and then became a civil surgeon in the medical department. He spent many years as a district medical officer, ending up as a civil surgeon at Lucknow, before proceeding to MD at the University of Glasgow which he attained on the 20th of April, 1935 with his, Highly Commended, thesis: ‘On the control of malaria during the Sarda Canal construction’.

In 1947 he became surgeon-general with the Government of Bengal. In the independence honours list on 1 January 1948 he was awarded a knighthood.

He died on the 23rd November 1966.


Dagmar Florence Curjel

Dagmar Florence Curjel was born on 10th September 1888 in the Lahore District, Karachi. Her father, Harald, was an East India merchant, but had died by the time Dagmar matriculated to study medicine at Queen Margaret College in 1909.

Dagmar's matriculation record 1909-10 (R8/5/30/9)

Dagmar’s matriculation record 1909-10 (R8/5/30/9)

She had a glittering academic record and when she graduated on 8th October 1914, it was with very high marks in her professional exams and a commendation. In that academic year she had been the medallist in Surgery. In previous years she was the medallist in Midwifery and the Mackintosh Bursar in Insanity. She won First Class Certificates in Chemistry, Botany, Physics, Pathology, Medical Jurisprudence and Public Health. Her second class certificate in Physiology in 1910 represented her first place on merit.

Dagmar’s war service was as a surgeon with the Women’s Indian Medical Service. After the war she returned to Scotland, to Helensburgh and applied herself to medical research, graduating MD from the University of Glasgow in 1916. Her MD Thesis was titled: The relation of the calcium content of the blood to the tonicity of the cardiac muscle.

She lived and worked in India for almost twenty years before returning to live in Oxford. She specialised in rickets in Indian children and its relationship to nutrition. Her studies of several thousand school-age children in Northern India provided data with which to campaign against overcrowding, poor diet and the effects of lack of sunlight.

She also published an important study of endemic goitre in the Lancet in 1941, comparing the condition in England and the Punjab. A distinguished Glasgow doctor, Dagmar Florence Curjel, or Wilson, died on 16th June 1970 at Oxford, aged 81.


We wish the new medical graduates the best of luck in all their endeavours. Don’t forget to check out the 1916 graduates on the University Story website, and if you would like to find out about any graduates from 1916 please e-mail us at

Categories: Archive Services

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