Dr Leonard Darby Senior Medical Officer of HMAS Sydney

Discussion in 'Non-Military Biographies' started by liverpool annie, Mar 24, 2009.

  1. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Dr Leonard Darby was the Senior Medical Officer of HMAS Sydney during her engagement with SMS Emden off the Cocos Islands on November 9th 1914. After the action he wrote his report to Captain J C T Glossop, Commanding Officer of HMAS Sydney, and this was published in Australia in 1915 by the Government Printer of the Commonwealth of Australia. The report published below is taken from the printed copy but Dr Darby's original handwritten report is in the possession of the Manuscripts Section of the State Library of New South Wales. Gratitude is expressed to Mr. Arthur Easton, Mitchell Library Archivist, who made the original document available for study.

    The report describes the action from the point of view of the two ship's surgeons, working in cramped conditions, using the stoker's bathrooms as operating theatres in 105 degrees of heat. HMAS Sydney had seventeen casualties and their management is described in full detail. It must be remembered that the action took place before blood transfusion was available and it is illuminating to read how casualties, suffering from blood loss, were managed .

    SMS Emden was very badly damaged in the action and beached herself on North Keeling Island. The report recounts how she had over 50 casualties and the difficulties that were encountered in moving them to HMAS Sydney and in treating them. The surviving German Medical officer was initially quite unable to cope, but, after recovery, he was able to assist with patient care onboard HMAS Sydney (the other German surgeon was blown overboard and swam to the shore, but lost his reason and died after drinking sea water).

    Dr Ollerhead, the Medical Officer to the Cable Station on the Cocos Islands, volunteered his services and also came on board HMAS Sydney to help in the emergency.

    Dr Darby was born in George Town, Tasmania, on the 3rd January 1890 and qualified as a medical practitioner at the University of Melbourne in 1912 with the degrees of MB. ChB. He joined the Royal Australian Navy in September 1912 and served as Surgeon on HMAS Cerberus and HMS Drake and was then attached to HMS Victory. He joined HMAS Sydney in May 1913 and was her Senior Surgeon until May 1918 when he was appointed to HMAS Penguin, the Naval Hospital in Sydney. He was given accelerated promotion to Staff Surgeon (Surgeon Lieutenant-Commander) after the engagement with SMS Emden and was promoted to Surgeon Commander in 1922.

    Dr Darby had a distinguished career in the post war Australian Navy, retiring as a Surgeon Captain. Between 1927 and 1932 he was the Director of Medical Services (Australia). In 1933 he was appointed as Honorary Surgeon to His Excellency the Governor-General of Australia and in 1934 he was the Principle Medical Officer for Ships and Naval Establishments. After retirement he lived in Queensland. The actual date of his death is obscure but his entry disappeared from the Medical Directory of Australia after the 1962 Edition.

  2. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Here's a picture of the Emden !

    Attached Files:

  3. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

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