Occupation: Medical Officer
Jack was born in 1887, son of Herbert Pearson Rawson and Agnes Beatrice (nee Symons). He was one of three children: Alice Wilmot 1881, Elsie Beatrice 1883 and Herbert Jack 1887.
Jack’s father and grandfather were dentist and doctor respectively and so, true to family tradition, by 1914 Jack had completed his medical student training at St Thomas's Hospital, London.
On 24 January he earned his medical registration. Jack's first position was Junior Doctor at Essex County Hospital. Jack had joined the University of London Training Corps in 1911.
He visited the War Office and emerged as Lt Jack Rawson Royal Army Medical Corps 3391. His first posting was to be at the huge Netley Hospital in Hampshire near Southampton.
The majority of his time was taken with clerical work and after a time this was not enough. Looking for more “action” he signed on as a doctor on the hospital ships.
October: His first ship was the ambulance ship Oxfordshire, a beautifully appointed ship of the Bibby Line. Thus began his journeys: Southampton, Boulogne, Havre, St Nazaire, to pick up the sick and wounded from the battlefields of France. 500-600 at a time and back to Southampton.
8 November ‘Oxfordshire on the Boulogne Southampton run with patients on board, when they arrived there were no embarkation staff due to miscommunication so had to stay another day.’
Jack had nothing but praise for the Southampton team who normally unloaded swiftly and with as little discomfort to the patients as possible.
March: In Cairo attached to the 1/5 Norfolk Regt 54th Div M E F attending to the troops then transferred to France No. 2 General Hospital, British Expeditionary Force, Le Havre, receiving hospital trains from Rouen. The wounded have to be deloused and labelled according to whether they have a bunk or stretcher.
April: Shifted from the main NZ General Hospital to the Palais-des-Regales British Convalescent Hospital situated very close to the beach with light airy wards.
On board Asturias on 11 July they left for Helles and Gallipoli. Steaming for five hours took them to Mudros where they anchored in a small bay for four days. Then off ANZAC Cove to take on wounded. All around warships bombing and shelling, the concussion rocking the boat for hours and hours. Jack described it as exciting.
The patients soon started to arrive on lighters, each winched aboard by crane. The next two days wounded were taken on until they were full to over flowing. Over 1500 men, mostly serious cases with wounded on the decks, there was hardly room to walk between them. The men came directly from the battlefield and were filthy dirty so time was spent cleaning and dressing wounds. Jack was working below where it was dark, hot, smelly with maggots on wounds, gas gangrene and appalling conditions. They did their best but, as he says in his letters, there were some they could not get to in time.
On the way back to Alexandra there were many burials at sea.
By mid July they were called back to Southampton and some well deserved leave. His letters describe the detail.
In March, while in Egypt, he was attached to the 4th Cheshire Regt EEF, taking care of the troops and going on an eight mile route march with the battalion. In their spare time they explored their surroundings.
At the start of January he moved to 4th Stationary Hospital Kantara Egypt then on 25 March to No. 2 General Hospital, British Expeditionary Force, Le Havre, France.
Discharged 11 July having served 1914-1919.
Worked in St Thomas' Hospital whilst waiting for his passage back to Wellington. Embarked in Plymouth, arriving home via Australia December 1919.
Jack married Eliza Gladys Dick 1892–1968.
Children: Betty, Bruce, Evelyn, Herbert Jnr. Herbert Rawson died circa 1935.
Nelson Connection: Jack’s son, Dr Herbert Dick Rawson of Nelson