Before we begin, I should probably own up to the fact that Randal isn’t actually mine. He belongs to someone else. But I have been researching him and his family for over six months now and I’ve become rather fond of him in that time. Not least as he’s almost unique in his family because he actually uses the name he was baptised with!
Lieut. Randal Herley of 85 General Hospital, Royal Army Medical Corps was baptised in Macroom, Co. Cork on January 1st 1872, the youngest son of one Thomas Thaddeus Herley. He studied classics in Dublin in the early 1890s and can be found resident in Sheffield, as an apprentice surgeon in the 1901 Census. The family appear to have scattered to all corners of the globe during the 1890s. Randal obtained his medical degree in 1903 from Glasgow & Edinburgh, and he spent almost his entire career practising ophthalmology at Dewsbury General Infirmary. In the 1911 Census, he’s resident in Camberwell (though the medical registers for 1911 also list him as working in Dewsbury) and lists himself as a surgeon. I cannot find him working in any of the major London hospitals during this period, but I suspect he was doing some further training since Dewsbury was clearly his home by this time.
Well into his forties when the First World War began, Randal was too old to have been conscripted by the time the Military Service Act came into force in 1916. That being said, at some point he was enlisted into the Royal Army Medical Corps first as a driver and subsequently as a Lieutenant. He served with 85 General Hospital, and headed up the aural unit therein. His service record does not survive, but his commission is listed in the London Gazette. His commission can only have been temporary, and was pretty late in the day so this isn’t exactly a surprise. Most of the RAMC officer records were destroyed after the war which makes researching his time in service that bit more tricky. Happily, I have been able to track him down through some other sources. Continue reading »