Letter from H. A. Bruce to William Osler [Transcript]
Bruce writes of matters relating to the Taplow affair. A committee of officers investigated the Duchess of Connaught Hospital
and determined that the Matron, Edith Campbell, should be changed. General G. C. Jones was then consulted and on his authority,
Campbell was removed. Bruce writes of the sacrifices he made in order to better the Canadian Medical Service. He explains
that Jones was recalled to Canada to re-organize the medical service there. Bruce makes no apologies for his handling of
the Canadian Army Medical Corps affair.
[Description courtesy of McGill University.]
About this transcript: Soon after Osler's death in 1919, Lady Osler asked their good friend Dr. Harvey Cushing to write
a biography. For this project, Cushing gathered a wide variety of material, including a substantial amount of Osler correspondence
and other memorabilia borrowed from Osler's family, friends, and colleagues. He employed three secretaries to transcribe
these documents, and later donated the transcripts (along with his other working materials) to the Osler Library. Because
many of the original documents were returned to the owners, the Cushing transcripts constitute the largest and most accessible
collection of Osler's correspondence.
Harvey Cushing's "Life of Sir William Osler" was published by Oxford University Press in 1925, and was awarded
a Pulitzer Prize in 1926.
Number of Image Pages:
2 (1,507,552 Bytes)
1916-10-19 (October 19, 1916)
Bruce, H. A.
Transcriber: [Cushing, Harvey]
Original Repository: Osler Library of the History of Medicine, McGill University. Osler Library Archive Collections, P417: Harvey Cushing Fonds
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Sir William: Regius Professor at Oxford, 1905-1919
H. A. Bruce to W. O.
October 19th, 1916.
Cecil Chambers, 86 Strand, London, W. C.
Dear Sir William,
In reply to your letter of the 15th October, and he stated that the situation at the Duchess of Connaught Hospital at Taplow
was placed in the hands of the Committee of Officers consisting of Colonel F. A. Reid, Colonel A. D. McRae, Major M. Alexander
the Deputy Judge-Advocate-General, and myself. The officers at the hospital were examined under oath and after a very exhausting
enquiry, certain recommendations were made. If there was sufficient evidence to make it apparent that it was desirable in
the interest of harmony and efficiency at the hospital that the matron should be changed, this matter, instead of appearing
in the report was taken up directly by the president of the Board with General Jones and the situation explained to him. It
was by the latter's authority that Miss Campbell was removed. I quite agree with her removal so nearly co-incident with
that of the O.C. was unfortunate. However, this detail was not in our hands. He will see, from what I has stated that the
Committee who assisted me in the general investigation of the Medical Service had nothing to do with the Taplow affair. Miss
Campbell, I understand, has the given another position as matron, and I am quite sure that there will be no stain upon her
In regard to your seeing the findings of the Committee. I am sorry to say that I have not a copy, and therefore cannot comply
with your request. I presume the findings, together with the report of the Committee are confidential were sent to the Sub-Militia
Council. I really do not think that this report should be published, but there is no objection to your writing to Colonel
A. D. McRae, the Deputy Minister of Militia & Defence, Cecil Hotel, London, if you wish to ask for it.
I further note what you say about cabling a protest to Sir Robert Borden, it is very good of you to state that you are sorry
for me. I undertook a certain duty to the Canadian Government at a considerable sacrifice, but only after careful thought.
I fully realized that to make an inspection of the critical character into the Canadian Medical Service, if it was to result
in any betterment of that service, would necessitate my disregarding entirely the personal element and searching in an unbiased
way for the real conditions. It was quite apparent to me at the outset that in doing this I would incur the enmity of many
interested persons, but is the good of the whole medical service, and the welfare of Canadian soldiers was of much more importance
than personal considerations I undertook this difficult task. But there was reason for much of the criticism that had been
made of the service to Ottawa was abundantly apparent to me, and I stated the facts in my report in a careful and impersonal
In addition to this, certain recommendations were made which, in my opinion, will greatly improve the Canadian Medical Service.
This report, and reply to it, by General Jones, have been carefully considered, and my recommendations been approved and adopted
by the Sub-Militia Council. I have been authorized to reorganize the Medical Service according to the recommendations made,
and continue to act as Special Inspector General, Medical Services. General Jones has been asked to proceed to Canada to reorganize
the service there, so as to make it coordinate more closely with the service here and in France.
For the work I have done, and the position I have assumed, I have no apology to make, nor do I wish any expression of sympathy.
I think, moreover, we will all be judged by our work and what we accomplish, and after a few months time I have no fear of
the verdict. I may say in conclusion, that I regret very much you felt called upon to take the attitude which you did from
the beginning, and which I consider, under the circumstances, entirely uncalled for and improper. I had only gotten nicely
started in my work when I received a letter from you threatening me with certain consequences if it was continued in a certain
way. I am exceedingly sorry to have to write you thus, but I do it with the kindliest healing and a very warm personal regard.