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Biographical entry Pilcher, Edgar Montagu (1865 - 1947)

CB 1918; CBE 1919; DSO 1901; MRCS and FRCS 1 June 1905; BA Cambridge 1887; MA MB BCh 1890.

25 April 1865
Meerut, India
26 December 1947
Ashtead, Surrey
Military surgeon


Born in Meerut, India, on 25 April 1865, son of Surgeon Jesse Griggs Pilcher, IMS, afterwards Deputy Surgeon-General and FRCS. He was educated at Clifton College and at Clare College, Cambridge, where he graduated in 1887. He took his clinical training at Guy's Hospital and qualified in 1890. Pilcher was commissioned a surgeon-lieutenant in the newly organized Army Medical Staff on 30 January 1892, being the first officer so gazetted under the Royal Warrant in 1891, and the first to hold this new rank. The reorganization was intended to prepare for the formation of the Royal Army Medical Corps, which duly took effect in 1898. He was promoted surgeon-captain 30 January 1895, becoming captain, RAMC, in 1898.

He had been posted to India immediately he received his commission and served at Lucknow during the cholera epidemic of 1896. He was in camp with the East Lancashire Regiment, and his attention to the sick of the battalion was such that he was elected an honorary life member of the officers' mess of the regiment. He saw active service on the North-West Frontier in the Tirah campaign of 1897-98, and won the medal with two clasps. He was then sent to South Africa, where he served throughout the war, 1899-1902, and was present at the relief of Ladysmith; he was mentioned in despatches, won the Queen's medal with five clasps and the King's medal with two clasps, and was awarded the DSO. He was promoted major on 30 January 1904, and in 1905 took the Fellowship though not previously a Member of the College.

After five years' service as a surgical specialist he was appointed on 1 August 1910 professor of surgery in the newly formed Royal Army Medical College at Millbank, a post which he held till 1919; but from 1917 he was serving in France as consulting surgeon with the British Expeditionary Force, and was mentioned in despatches. He had been promoted brevet lieutenant-colonel on 26 November 1913, lieutenant-colonel on 1 January 1914, brevet colonel on 12 September 1916, and colonel in July 1917, and subsequently major-general, Army Medical Service. He was appointed consulting surgeon to the Army in 1919, and retired in 1924. He had been appointed an honorary surgeon to the King in 1917, and was created CB 1918 and CBE 1919.

Pilcher married twice: (1) in 1899 Lilias Mary, eldest daughter of Captain Henri Campbell, ISC; Mrs Pilcher died suddenly at Gloucester on 8 September 1940; (2) in 1940 Brenda Georgiana, younger daughter of Augustus Frederick Warr, MP for Liverpool 1895-1902, who survived him. There were no children. After his retirement Pilcher lived for a time at Stroud, Gloucestershire; then at St Mary Abbots' Court, Kensington; and finally at Thirty Trees, Ashtead, Surrey, where he died on 26 December 1947, aged 82; the funeral was at Ashtead parish church. Pilcher was an amateur of music and literature.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Johnston's Roll of the AMS, No 7339; The Times, 27 December 1947, p 7e; Lancet, 1948, 1, 86, with eulogy by R S H; information from Mrs Pilcher].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England