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George Alfred Duncan Harvey

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George Alfred Duncan Harvey

by Bassano Ltd
half-plate glass negative, 23 September 1937
Given by Bassano & Vandyk Studios, 1974
Photographs Collection
NPG x154925

Sitterback to top

  • George Alfred Duncan Harvey (1882-1957), Major, Royal Army Medical Corps and Ireland rugby International Player. Sitter in 2 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • Bassano Ltd (active 1901-1962), Photographers. Artist associated with 42745 portraits.

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Events of 1937back to top

Current affairs

George VI becomes king. The younger brother of Edward VIII was crowned on the 12th May and the coronation was broadcast to Britain and the Empire on the radio. Edward becomes the Duke of Windsor, although the rank of 'Royal Highness' is not extended to Wallis Simpson.
Neville Chamberlain becomes Prime Minister following Baldwin's retirement.

Art and science

Roland Penrose organises a tour of Picasso's painting Guernica to the UK. The painting, which shows the horrors of the Spanish Civil War, went on display at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in East London.
A new synthetic fabric is invented and named after New York and London: Nylon.


Commercial airship travel is brought to an end with the 'Hindenberg Disaster'. The German airship exploded while landing in New Jersey. The radio broadcaster Herbert Morrison's reaction has become legendary: 'Oh, the humanity!'
Japan invades China, killing about 25,000. Japanese Troops committed numerous atrocities against soldiers and civilians in what became known as the 'Rape of Nanking'.

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John Harvey - Ellesmerian Club

18 November 2018, 19:16

George Alfred Duncan Harvey, the third son of the Reverend Alfred Thomas Harvey and his wife, Ida, of The Rectory, Athboy, County Meath was born on 27th October 1882 at Navan, County. Meath, Ireland. He was one of the five brothers who arrived at Ellesmere at the end of the 19th Century and “who were the most outstanding, and by far the ablest family group educated at this school”.

George, just short of his eleventh birthday, was one of twenty nine new boys admitted to Ellesmere College in September 1893. He was allocated a bed in the ‘Conqueror’ dormitory and set out make the most of the next six years. He sat, and passed, various exams and he won a prize on two occasions; for the Junior Declamation in his first year and the Senior Declamation in his last. Nevertheless, he progressed through the various Forms, sat on the Play Committee and appeared in some Shakespearian Society productions – but never in any leading roles. His education seems to have stood him in good stead for later life.

Out of the classroom, it was a totally different story. He participated in every annual Sports Day and clocked up a fair number of first places in events as diverse as the half mile junior race in 1896, to the steeplechase in 1898. In the latter event he remains the only person in the college’s history to have won it in three consecutive years. In the 1899 three mile race he beat the record by 5.8 seconds. Rugby was the ‘family sport’ and Duncan did not disappoint. He represented his dormitory and the college in various teams over the years in both rugby and also in cricket. Out on the wicket it was, at one stage, thought that he was “rather too lazy to be a cricketer……”. Things obviously changed though as, two years later, he was Captain of the 1st XI and also took home the title of ‘Victor Ludorum’.

Duncan went from Ellesmere to the College of Surgeons in Dublin, taking his medical degree in 1903 – he took a first in Anatomy and was a Gold Medallist. During his student days, he played cricket for the Leinster Club and Rugby for the Wanderers XV as centre three-quarter. He was first capped for Ireland in 1903 – in a match that was to be his elder brother’s last – against England at Lansdowne Road, which Ireland won. Later in the same year, he played against Scotland and subsequently against Wales (1904) and Scotland and England (1905).

On qualifying he joined the Royal Army Medical Corps in July 1904. He was initially stationed in Singapore and then in Khartoum between June and November 1914 being invalided from there. He was diagnosed as suffering with coeliac disease and was declared ‘unfit for active service’ when the 1914-1918 War broke out. He was in France for only a short time in 1918.

In a varied career he worked for the War Office on three occasions and was made a Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (C. M. G.) for his services. He was in Gibraltar for five years and, in 1930, he went to Waziristan & Quetta in India, returning again in 1935 when he was promoted Major General. Whilst in India, he was made a Companion of the Bath (C. B.) and, in March 1937, appointed King’s Honorary Physician.

He retired on leaving India in 1938 but voluntarily re-joined the R.A.M.C. in 1940 and went to France where he was the Medical Officer in charge of a large complex comprised of hospitals, Field Ambulances etc.

On the approach of the Germans towards Boulogne he was ordered to evacuate all but a hospital in Boulogne and then to get away himself. He chose to remain at the hospital, caring for his patients, and was captured spending time in various Prisoner of War camps until he was repatriated in 1943. During his captivity he frequently and forcibly protested against the treatment meted out to prisoners as contravening the Geneva Convention. When he was finally released the Camp Commandant is said to have remarked that he was glad “to be rid of that troublesome Irishman”.

He retired from the Army in 1944 and moved to Boxted, near Colchester. His P.O.W. experiences had undoubtedly affected his health and he died at the Military Hospital, Colchester in September 1958, aged 74, holding the rank of General.
Family of George Alfred Duncan Harvey:

Father Alfred Thomas (1843 - 1898) Clergyman

Mother Ida Susette (1852 - ) nee Wegelin

Brothers Frederick Maurice Watson (1888 - 1980)
Frank Newenham (1887 - 1962)
Charles Dacre (1879 - 1951)
Thomas Arnold (1877 - 1966)

Wife Gwendel (1894 - 1979) nee Rothera



Ellesmere College Roll of Honour, p. 17
Headmaster’s Register

Ellesmerian Magazines:

Oct 1893, p. 74 Dec 1893, p. 88 Apr 1894, p. 21
Jun 1894, p. 28 Nov 1894, p. 70 Dec 1894, p. 83
Jun 1895, p. 31, 43 Apr 1896, p. 4 Jun 1896, p. 27
Jul 1896, p. 53 Apr 1897, p. 18, 19 Nov 1897, p. 67, 76
May 1898, p. 15,16,17,20 Nov 1898, p. 50, 52-57,64, Dec 1898, p. 73
Mar 1899, p. 12 May 1899, p. 21-24, Jun 1899, p. 33-35, 37
Jul 1899, p. 48-52 Nov 1899, p. 59, 61-63,71,72Jul 1900, p. 35
May 1901, p. 25 Mar 1903, p. 12 Jul 1903, p. 51
Apr 1904, p. 8 Dec 1904, p. 63 Mar 1905, p. 72
Apr 1906, p. 25 Apr 1909, p.133 Feb 1937, p. 131
May 1937, p.152 Jan 1941, p. 187,190 Jul 1941, p. 256,258
Jul 1943, p. 101 Jul 1945, p. 37 May 1951, p. 92
Mar 1953, p. 43 Oct 1956, p.44 May 1958, p. 60(Obit.)
Oct 1961, p. 48 (Biog.) National Probate Calendar, 1957, p. 244
UK Medical Registers 1859-1959
Outward Passenger lists 14 Oct 1955
11 Oct 1932
22 September 1922
31 October 1924
Incoming Passenger Lists 21 July 1924
WW1 Medal Rolls Index Cards 1914-1920

The London Gazette 2nd September 1904, p.5698
11th April 1919, p. 4820
14th June 1938, p. 485
3rd March 1908, p.1498
16th February 1934, p.1080
27th July 1917 – mentioned in dispatches Prisoners of war List Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives

The Lancet 6th November 1943, p.582

The National Portrait Gallery half plate glass negative 23 Sept 1937 by Bassano
Ltd Ref: NPG x 154925 & NPG x 154925

The British Medical Journal 16th Nov 1940, p.689
13th August 1904, p. 356
5th October 1957, p. 831 (Obituary)
4th August 1917, p.163

Aberdeen Journal 9th June 1938

Winnipeg Tribune 1st August 1940

Who’s Who

The Birmingham Post 24th November 1914, p. 9

The Lancashire Daily Post 31st July 1940, p. 5

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