Renowned army doctor awarded Victoria Cross for bravery on the battlefield

Canadian World War I hero has ties to Doctors Manitoba

Doctors Manitoba uncovered an AGM photo from 1923. The event was held at the Hotel Fort Gary as it has been many times over the years. Front and centre in that photograph is Dr. Francis Scrimger of Montreal.

In 1923, Dr. Scrimger came back to Manitoba, where he first was inspired to become a doctor, decades earlier, this time as a decorated war hero and recipient of the Victoria Cross.

dr francis alexander scrimgerDr. Francis Alexander Carron Scrimger lived from 1880 to 1937. His life is a testament to bravery, duty and dedication. In 1905, after graduating from medical school at McGill University, Dr. Scrimger began interning at the Royal Victoria Hospital. At the hospital he met John McCrae, another intern who later wrote the renowned poem In Flanders Fields.

By 1910, Dr. Scrimger was a clinical assistant in surgery at the Royal Victoria. In 1912, he joined the Canadian Army Medical Corps. Two years later, he earned the rank of captain. By October 1914, he was headed to Plymouth, England along with thousands of other soldiers, horses, and other equipment all loaded on 32 ocean liners.

The London Gazette published an account of Dr. Scrimger’s bravery on June 22, 1915. It reads: “On the afternoon of 25th April, 1915, in the neighbourhood of Ypres, when in charge of an advanced dressing station in some farm buildings, which were being heavily shelled by the enemy, he directed under heavy fire the removal of the wounded, and he himself carried a severely wounded officer out of a stable in search of a place of greater safety. When he was unable alone to carry this officer further, he remained with him under fire till help could be obtained. During the very heavy fighting between 22nd April and 25th April, Captain Scrimger displayed continuously, day and night, the greatest devotion to duty among the wounded at the front.”

He was later awarded the Victoria Cross for that single act of courage. In May 1915, it is also believed that Dr. Scrimger encouraged John McCrae, his friend from his intern days at the Royal Victoria Hospital, to submit his poem In Flanders Fields for publication.

 

 

Sources: Wikipedia; Canadachannel.ca; Francis Scrimger: Beyond the Call of Duty by Suzanne Kingsmill; National Defence and the Canadian Forces; The Greatest Devotion to Duty; Dr. Francis Scrimger and his Victoria Cross by Ian McCulloch