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Fitzhugh, Richard Truman

Richard Truman Fitz Hugh, M.B.Lond., Medical Officer to the Imperial Yeomanry Hospital, South Africa. It is with deep regret that we record the death of Dr. Richard Truman FitzHugh, of Nottingham, which has recently occurred as the result of enteric fever at the Imperial Yeomanry Base Hospital at Deelfontein, near DeAar Junction, South Africa. He was the only son of Mr. R. FitzHugh, J.P., of Clumber Crescent, The Park, Nottingham, and was only 28 years of age when he died. He was first educated at a private school, then at the Nottingham High School, and subsequently at the Shrewsbury Grammar School. His medical training he received at Guy's Hospital, to which he was attached for seven years. At this hospital he held the posts of house-physician, assistant house-surgeon, obstetric resident, clinical and gynaecological assistant, and dresser in the eye wards.

On leaving Guy's he returned to Nottingham, and acted as locum tenens at the General Hospital, which position he only relinquished in order to serve his country in South Africa. He took the Degree of Bachelor of Medicine of the University of London in I898, and in the previous year he had been admitted a M.R.C.S. and L.R.C.P. Early in February last he sailed from Southampton with other members of the staff of the Imperial Yeomanry Hospital.

An indication of his indisposition had reached his friends at Nottingham about three weeks before they received a telegram that he was seriously ill. Two days later his father received the following telegram from Colonel Sloggett, at Deelfontein: " Deeply regret to inform you of the death of your son from enteric fever-an irreparable loss to this hospital, he having endeared himself to all." He was held in high regard by his associates also at Guy's, not only on account of his medical skill and scientific attainments, but also of the part he took in its social and recreative life; he was an enthusiastic and good all-round athlete, as well as a man of culture and ability. The termination of a career so rich in promise by a disease which is causing more deaths than the bullets of the enemy, has evoked much sympathy for his family. Mr. Fripp, the Senior Surgeon to the Imperial Yeomanry Hospital at Deelfontein, writes under date June 18th: By the death on June 15th of Dr. Fitzhugh, everybody here felt that they had lost a friend whose value they had had the opportunity of realising. He was one of the juniors among our medical officers, but his practice here among the patients had cemented the high opinions which had been formed at Guy's by his teachers, no less than by his contemporaries from his earliest student days, and which had been fortified by the high degrees he had taken at the London University. He was popular alike with his colleagues with the nursing sisters, with the non-commissioned officers and orderlies, and with the patients. His career gave every promise of his attaining a very high place in his profession, but apart from his value to this hospital in his professional capacity, he had many characteristics which had endeared him to those who knew him.

He was a thorough sportsman, a prominent member of our cricket eleven, though perhaps best of all at Association football, in both of which sports he used to play for Guy's when he was a student. He was a man with a keen sense of humour, and quite the most popular performer at the smoking concerts which do so much to keep up the spirits of our camp. One song of his in particular was so popular that, however much he tried to satisfy the audience with others, they never would let him leave the piano until he had given them their favourite one. Poor old "Fitz," as we always called him, will not quickly be forgotten by his friends. There 'was an enormous congregation at his funeral service, the first part of which was held in the church. All ranks of the hospital were largely represented, and formed into a long procession to follow him to the cemetery about a quarter of a mile away. The coffin was carried by orderlies, and some of his fellow Guy's men acted as pall-bearers.

Gazette: Richard Truman Fitz-Hugh died of enteric at Deelfontein, South Africa, June 15th, 1900. Although the last few months have robbed Guy’ s of many of her best, yet I doubt if the full realisation of the cost of war was brought home to us of the present generation so fully as when we heard of poor Fitz-Hugh’ s death; none of us knew he was ill, and the suddenness of the blow made it seem even more heavy.

R. T. Fitz-Hugh was born in 1872, and after being educated at Nottingham and Shrewsbury, came to Guy’ s in 1891. He passed the Prelim. Sci. London in the following year, the Primary Fellowship and Intermediate M.B. in 1898. Besides doing all the usual appointments he did Charity, Assistant House-Surgeon, Assistant House-Physician, and House Physician to Dr. Pye-Smith. Such a record shows the worth of the man from a professional standpoint, but many have done as much and have failed to be as popular or as esteemed as was Fitz-Hugh.

From his entry at Guy’ s he took a prominent place in athletics; he was one of the best Association Football players we have had of late years, and helped to bring back the cup in 1894, besides captaining the team 1894-95, and in 1895-96. He also was in the cricket team which won the cup in 1892.

In the social life at Guy’s he was indispensable’ he was Assistant Hon. Sec. of the Student’s Club, President of the Residents, and for many years foremost among the “niggers” at Christmas, while few will forget his singing of a topical song, written by himself, at a Guy’s smoking concert. And yet, versatile as he was, there was that in the man which his own modesty often concealed, but which those who knew him well always felt to be behind his good humour and cheeriness, a solidity of character, and an honest straight forwardness that made us all trust and admire him. An old friend of both his and mine said of him in a letter to me the other day, “I don’t think there was anyone among all the men I worked with at Guy’s for whose character I had a greater respect, or whose society gave me, and I think all of us, greater pleasure.”
I think that sums up the feelings of all of us who knew Fitzhugh well. Perhaps some who may read this short estimate of the man may think that my affection and grief have caused me to paint his qualities in colours that are too glowing, but I think that those who were privileged to be his friends will hardly differ from my opinion, and all those who have left Guy’s of late, there are few whom we could point to with more satisfaction as a type of a sterling gentleman. There is some small consolation for us, if indeed there can be any, in the thought that he died in the midst of friends, and that all was done that human power could do for him. That he had endeared himself to all in the Yeomanry Hospital at Delfontein, few will doubt, and, as Colonel Sloggett telegraphed home, his loss there is irreparable. To his family in their grief, perhaps the thought of what Guy’s men think of him may in some measure serve to lighten their sorrow. A.J.C. Guy‘s Hospital Gazette July 7, 1900



Richard Truman Fitz-Hugh, M.B.Lond., Medical Officer to the Imperial Yeomanry Hospital, South Africa…… ..The coffin was carried by orderlies, and some of his fellow Guy's men acted as pall-bearers. British Medical Journal 14 July 1900


First name(s)Richard Truman
Date of birth1872
Family detailsSon of Richard (Pharmaceutical Chemist) and Maria Fitzhugh
Previous educationPrivate School; Nottingham High School; Shrewsbury Grammar
CollegeGuy's Hospital
Dates at college1891-1898
Dept / courseM.B.
QualificationsM.R.C.S., L.R.C.P.; M.B.
Military unitMedical Officer
Date enlisted1899
War / conflictSecond Boer War (1899-1902)
Date of death15-Jun-00
Age at death28
Place of deathImperial Yeomanry Base Hospital at Deelfontein
Cause of deathEnteric fever
Commemoration(s)Guy’ s Hospital; Boer War Memorial, Nottingham; Shrewsbury School Chapel
SourcesGuy’ s Hospital Medical School Records, King’ s College London Archives; British Medical Journal

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