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Lansdale, William Morris

Arma virumque cano. All Guy’s men will be very grieved to hear of the death of Capt. William Morris Lansdale, M.B., B.S., R.A.M.C. He was killed by a shell on the evening of Monday, 26th August, 1918, at his post of duty, whilst attending to the wounded of his battalion. Lansdale was a very brave man, and it is typical of him to hear that at the time of his death he was very gallantly rendering first aid to the wounded, whilst under very heavy shell fire. Regardless of his own danger, Lansdale ordered his R.A.M.C. bearers to take cover and continued his work calmly and deliberately until he was killed, fulfilling the greatest sacrifice a man can give to his country, and the highest traditions of the medical profession.

Thus was cut short a young life full of promise, for Lansdale’s gifts were of no mean order. Entering Guy’s in 1909, he won the Entrance Scholarship in Arts, and very easily passing his examinations, qualified M.B., B.S. London in the minimum time possible. At the end of his studies in anatomy and physiology he won both the Junior Proficiency Prize and the Woodridge Memorial Prize in Physiology; in 1914 he was prize essayist of the Physical Society with a very brilliant contribution on para-syphilitic lesions and in the same year won the Beaney Prize for Pathology. Had Lansdale proceeded to house appointments, there is no doubt that he would have secured a very brilliant academic career at Guy’s.  He joined up immediately upon qualifying and was attached to the 5th Royal Berkshire Regt.   He remained with his Battalion, for whom he did magnificent work, until he was killed by a shell on August 26th 1918, while tending the wounded. As a man, Lansdale was quiet and reserved, but under that reserve there lay a warm, affectionate disposition, and the restless enthusiasm of genius. 

Lansdale was the son of a distinguished old Guy’s man, with whom all Guy’s men will condole in his bereavement. Below is a letter to Dr. Lansdale, written by the Chaplain of the 5th Royal Berks:- 
Dear Sir, - I grieve very much to have to write to you some very distressing news. I regret to say that your son Morris lost his life yesterday at his post of duty where he was working attending to the wounded of his battalion. He had done excellent work all day at his aid post under very trying circumstances, and he was eager to go out and try to fetch in some of our wounded himself, but our commanding officer ( Lt.-Colonel Goodland) refused to allow him to do that. He was killed by a shell close to battalion headquarters last night, just after telling some of his R.A.M.C. bearers to take cover.

Death was instantaneous, and we are glad to be able to say that your son’s body was not greatly disfigured by the explosion of the shell. We brought the body down from the line to-day, and have buried it in a cemetery behind the lines near Albert. The 2nd in command of the battalion, Major Church, was present at the funeral service which I read over him, and another officer of the battalion, and some of the men were also present. Some officers of the division were also able to be present.

Colonel Goodland hopes to write to you at his first opportunity. We all feel the loss of your dear son greatly, and he will be sadly missed, not only in the battalion which he had worked for so long, but also in the field ambulances of the division where everyone knew and valued him. Your son and I were latterly much together, and he was a very close friend of mine.
I must not write any more now. With much sympathy, believe me, yours sincerely. Basil Aston, C.F., Attd. 5t Royal Berks, B.E.F. 27th Aug., 1918.Guy’s Hospital Reports Vol.LXX, War Memorial Number and Guy’s Hospital Gazette 5 Oct., 1918


First name(s)William Morris
Family detailsSon of William and Kate Elizabeth Lansdale of "Sunnydene," Grove Park, Lee, London
Previous educationSt. Olave's and St. Saviours Grammar School
CollegeGuy's Hospital
Dates at college23 March 1905
Dept / courseLondon M.B.
QualificationsL.M.S.S.A. 1914; M.B.; B.S. (Lond.) 1915
Military unitRoyal Army Medical Corps (S.R.); Royal Berkshire Regt., attd. 5th Bn.
War / conflictWorld War One (1914-1918)
Date of death26 August 1918
Age at death27
Rank at deathCaptain
Cause of deathKilled in action
Burial placeMeaulte Military Cemetery
Commemoration(s)Guy's Hospital Memorial
SourcesGuy's Hospital Medical School Records, King's College London Archives; Commonwealth War Graves Commission; Soldiers Died in the Great War

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