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Biographical entry Gaskell, Sir Arthur (1871 - 1952)

KCB 1930; CB 1916; OBE 1919; MRCS 1 August 1892; FRCS 8 June 1899; LRCP 1892; DPH RCPS 1913.

6 July 1871
12 January 1952
Fareham, Hampshire
Naval surgeon


Born at Dartmouth on 6 July 1871 fifth child and second son of Hunter Gaskell JPO and his wife née Stempkowska, he was educated at Tavistock and at University College Hospital, and was commissioned in the Royal Naval Medical Service in 1893 and posted to the Royal Naval Hospital, Chatham. He was in charge of the surgical section of the advanced base hospital at Leu-Kung-Tao in China during the Boxer rebellion of 1900. He was promoted Staff-Surgeon in 1902 and Fleet-Surgeon in 1906. In 1914 he was appointed Professor of Hygiene and Director of Studies at the RN Medical College at Greenwich.

During the war of 1914-18 he fitted out the hospital ship Soudan, and was then Assistant Director of Medical Services to the Naval Division at Gallipoli (1915). From 1916 he was in charge of the Naval Hospital at the Cape of Good Hope, and returned to Chatham in 1919 as a surgical specialist with the rank of Surgeon-Captain (1920). While in South Africa he distributed at his own expense a primer which he had written on first-aid, and was subsequently employed to write the official Naval first-aid handbook. He was created CB in 1916 and OBE in 1919 for his war services. Gaskell was promoted Surgeon Rear-Admiral in 1923 and Surgeon Vice-Admiral in 1927, when he was appointed Medical Director-General of the Navy. He was knighted as a KCB in 1930, and retired in 1931. He subsequently served on the advisory committee on the medical branches of the fighting services. Gaskell was a Fellow of the Royal Sanitary Institute, and was elected a Fellow of University College. He was an honorary surgeon to the King.

He married in 1911 Sophie, daughter of the Hon Sir Lewis Michell CVO; Lady Gaskell survived him with a son and daughter. Their elder son was killed in action in 1944. He died suddenly at his home Greenwood, Fareham, Hampshire on 12 January 1952 aged 80. A memorial service was held on 19 January in the Royal Naval Hospital, Haslar.

Sources used to compile this entry: The Times 15 January 1952 pp 6 D-E; Brit med J1952, 1, 278; Lancet 1952, 1, 268; JRN med Serv 1952, 38, 101-103 with personal recollections by RCM, AEM, and KHH and portrait in uniform facing p 49; information from Lady Gaskell].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England