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Biographical entry Sloggett, Sir Arthur Thomas (1857 - 1929)

Knight Bachelor 1914; KCB 1915; KCMG 1917; KCVO 1917; MRCS April 21st 1880; FRCS (elected as a Member of twenty years' standing) April 12th 1917; LRCP Edin.

24 November 1857
Stoke Damarel, Devon
27 November 1929
Military surgeon


Son of Inspector-General W H Sloggett, RN, of Tremabyn, Paignton, South Devon, was born at Stoke Damarel in that county on Nov 24th, 1857, his mother being Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Cornish-Crossing, JP, of Stoke Damarel. He was educated at King's College, London, and entered the Army as Surgeon in 1881.

He served on the Indian Frontier in 1884 and was the Senior Medical Officer with British troops in the Dongola Expedition of 1896, when he was mentioned in dispatches, promoted to Surgeon Lieutenant-Colonel, and received the Egyptian Medal with two Clasps and the Osmanieh Order. He was Senior Medical Officer of the First Brigade of the British Division of the Nile Expedition, and was dangerously wounded in the chest at Khartoum. For his services he was again mentioned, was promoted, and received the Medjidie Order. In the South African War he was in charge of the Imperial Yeomanry Hospital, and was afterwards PMO to a General Hospital and Commandant of Dreifontein district. He took part in the operations in the Orange Free State in April and May and in the Transvaal in June and July, 1900, and in the operations in the Transvaal, Orange River Colony, and Cape Colony, down to May, 1902. He was again mentioned in dispatches, received the Medal with five Clasps, and was decorated CMG.

From 1903-1908 he was PMO of the Home and London districts, and in the latter year was appointed PMO of the Bombay Presidency (6th Division). He was made CB in 1910 and was nominated King's Honorary Surgeon in 1911. In December, 1911, he was promoted to be Director of Medical Services in India, and in June 1914, he succeeded Surgeon General Sir Launcelotte Gubbins as Director-General Army Medical Service, with the rank of Lieutenant-General.

Two months after his appointment as Director-General the European War (1914-1918) began, and a month later Sloggett went to France in a triple capacity as Director-General of the Medical Services of the British Armies in the Field, as Chief Commissioner of the British Red Cross and of the Order of St John of Jerusalem. It was impossible for one individual to carry out the duties of these posts, and Sir Alfred Keogh, who had been Director-General from 1904-1910, was recalled to become acting Director-General in England whilst Sloggett served in France attached to General Headquarters. Here he remained until June 1st, 1918, when, his term of office being ended, he was replaced as Director-General by Sir John Goodwin, who was subsequently appointed Governor of Queensland. After his retirement Sir Arthur Sloggett was Colonel Commandant from 1921-1928.

For his services during the War he was mentioned in dispatches seven times, in the London Gazette of Feb 17th, 1915, July 10th, 1915, Jan 4th, 1917, May 29th, 1917, Dec 24th, 1917, May 25th, 1918, and Oct 21st, 1918; and received the KCB in 1915, the Legion of Honour, Grand Officer (2nd class), in 1915, the Order of King Leopold of Belgium, Commander (3rd class), in 1916, the KCMG and KCVO in 1917. Besides these honours he had been appointed a Knight of Grace of the Order of St John of Jerusalem in 1898, and he received the CB in 1910.

During his later years Sir Arthur Sloggett was Chairman of the Mills Equip¬ment Co Ltd, a Director of Bovril Ltd, and served on the Boards of the English Insurance Company, of the General Accident Fire and Life Assurance Company, and of the Yorkshire Paper Mills Ltd.

He married in 1881 Helen (Lady of Grace of St John of Jerusalem), daughter of J R Boyson, formerly Solicitor-General of Madras, and by her had a son and two daughters. This son was Lieut-Colonel A J H Sloggett, DSO, of the Rifle Brigade; his daughters married respectively Lieut-Colonel Llewellyn Evans, CMG, DSO, RE, and Major J T Duffin, MC, of the Royal Irish Rifles.

Sloggett died suddenly whilst walking with his son near Regent's Park on Nov 27th, 1929, and was buried at St Peter's Church, Petersham, near Richmond, Surrey.

The busiest and perhaps the best part of Sloggett's life was the period when he acted as the directing head of the medical department of the largest British Army which ever took the field. During these forty-five months the professional military surgeons and the civilian doctors were gradually merged into a single and coherent medical service, and for this Sloggett was chiefly responsible. From time to time he was severely criticized by those who would have adopted other means to attain a similar end, but nevertheless it stands to his credit that he evolved a most efficient medical service. He had a talent for selecting men to fill the posts for which they were best fitted, and having selected them he allowed them to work without interference. He was unique as a peacemaker, for his tact, his kindly bright manner, and his shrewd common sense quickly dissipated any dissension arising in the vast machine which he controlled. If a disagreeable thing had to be done he accomplished it in so kindly a manner that the victim was left with the feeling that he could not have been better treated. He worked harmoniously with the Red Cross Society, with the Order of St John of Jerusalem, and with the various consultants from civil practice who were eager to help though they had little or no knowledge of service methods or of service ways. His wide outlook enabled him to dispense with all but a minimum of red tape, and he was always ready to take advice from those he thought competent to give it.

In his capacity as Director-General in France during the War he was largely responsible for the improvements in front-line treatment. The special arrangements made for head injuries, for abdominal wounds, for fractures, and for bums were rendered possible by the facilities which he provided. He was also in favour of establishing research units, though he would not have claimed for himself any deep knowledge of scientific medicine.

In person Sloggett was tall and elegant, always well dressed, his tunic resplendent with the ribbons of the many decorations which had been earned in the course of long service. As long as it was possible to do so he lived comfortably in a well-appointed château because he hated squalor, but he was active in visiting the units under his command and did not neglect the front line. When he left the British Expeditionary Force he carried with him the affectionate regard of the many officers who had served under him, to whom he had always shown great consideration, whilst the rank and file knew that they had been better cared for, housed, and doctored than in any previous war.

Sir Arthur Sloggett with Sir Anthony A Bowlby (qv), representing the AMS, and Dame Maude McCarthy, GBE, Matron-in-Chief QAIMNS British Armies in France 1914-1919, appear in the panel at the Royal Exchange, London.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Personal knowledge. The Times, 1929, Nov 28. Brit Med Jour, 1929, ii, 1089, with portrait in uniform - a good likeness. Lancet, 1929, ii, 1222].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England