Captain Henry (Harry) Sherwood Ranken VC

Discussion in 'Military Biographies' started by liverpool annie, Aug 28, 2009.

  1. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Captain Harry Ranken RAMC was born in Glasgow in September 1883 the oldest son of Rev Harry Ranken. He was educated at Irvine Royal Academy and graduated MB ChB with commendations in 1905. He entered the Army in 1909 after appointments in several hospitals including the Brook Fever Hospital London. At army medical college he excelled gaining several prizes including the Prize of First Order of Merit. He was promoted to Captain in 1912 and started his research on Trypanosomiasis with Sir William Leishman. He published extensively in medical journals on sleeping sickness its origin and treatment. When war broke out in 1914 he volunteered for active service and became the regimental medical officer for the 1st Kings Royal Rifle Corps with the BEF. For gallant conduct under fire between 21 and 30 August he was awarded the Croix de Chevalier of the French Legion of Honour and mentioned in despatches. On 19th and 20th September his actions resulted in him gaining the V.C and his death. Severely wounded while in the trenches he stopped the bleeding in his own nearly severed leg and continued despite the pain to tend to the wounded sacrificing his own chance of survival to increase theirs. When finally carried to the rear it was too late and died of his wounds on 25th September 1914 aged 31. The Times History of War states that " no man ever won the Victoria Cross more nobly than did Captain Harry Ranken RAMC"

    Henry (Harry) Sherwood Ranken was born on 3rd September 1883, son of Henry a minister in Irvine, Ayrshire. He first enrolled at the University of Glasgow in summer 1900 and over the course of his studies he won eight prizes.

    These included three surgery prizes in the classes of Professor Sir William Macewen, who served in the war as Consulting Surgeon to the Admiralty. He received his MB ChB degrees in July 1905. In 1910 he became a member of the Royal College of Physicians of London.

    Before entering military service, Captain Ranken had been a member of the Sudan Sleeping Sickness Commission and had held posts at Glasgow's Western Infirmary and at the Brook Fever Hospital in London. He was author and co-author of articles including "Representations on Experimental Treatment of Trypanosomiasis" in the Proceedings of the Royal Society 1910-1911.

    He entered the Army in 1909 and excelled in his studies at the Army Medical College being promoted to Captain in 1912. For gallant conduct under fire in France between 21st and 30th August he was awarded the Croix de Chevalier of the French Legion of Honour. On 19th and 20th September 1914 at Haute-Avesnes, France, Captain Ranken was severely wounded in the leg whilst attending to his duties on the battlefield under shrapnel and rifle fire. He stopped the bleeding and bound it up, then continued to dress the wounds of his men, sacrificing his own chance of survival to their needs. When he finally permitted himself to be carried to the rear at Braisne, his wounds were too severe and he died on 25th September. For this act of heroism he was awarded the Victoria Cross which is now held at the Army Medical Services Museum in Aldershot.

    His will which had been written on 30th May 1910, was confirmed in court in Ayr on 16th December 1914. Alan Rain Ranken, his brother (a University of Glasgow law student at the time the will was drawn up) and George Haswell Wilson, his University friend, were his executors. He left an estate valued at GBP 1,400, 1s 4d.

    In 1924, his parents founded a University of Glasgow prize in his memory. It is still awarded annually to the candidate who obtains the highest number of marks in the professional examinations in Pathology.

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