GLASSFORD, Ian (John Canute Boe) Gordon MC (1872-1945)

Modified on Fri, 12 Aug 2016 19:46 by Con — Categorized as: Biography - All, Biography - Students, Geelong College, Biography of War - World War I

GLASSFORD, Dr Ian (John Canute Boe) Gordon MC (1872-1945)

John Glassford was born on 9 November 1871 at Newburn Park, Maffra, the son of 'Harry' Gordon Glassford and Martha Bertine nee Johnson of Waikato, New Zealand. Entered as 'Ian', he became a boarder at Geelong College on 25 July 1882, his address at the time being 'Newburn Park', Maffra. Glassford’s original first name was John, but he used the Scottish Gaelic equivalent, Ian. He is recorded as a member of the 1st Cricket Team in 18888 and both the 1st Cricket and 1st Football Teams in 1889, 1890 and 1891. After leaving College he attended The University of Melbourne, then went on to England and Scotland, completing his medical studies at Edinburgh University, MRCS and LRCP.

While at College he was the College singles tennis champion in 1893 and 1894. He went on to become doubles champion of Victoria and a member of the interstate tennis team in 1899. The Edinburgh University tennis team, of which he was a member, won the 1901 Scottish championship. In 1898 he married Clara May Simpson, daughter of William and Olinda Simpson, and they had two children, Olinda Mary Glassford, born at Bairnsdale in 1904, and Ian Norman Glassford born at Bairnsdale in 1909.

Glassford enlisted in the Australian Army Medical Corps (AAMC) on 11 November 1915 as a Captain, and sailed from Sydney on 13 May 1916, as the Senior Medical Officer on the transport, HMAT A72 Beltana. On arrival in England he was posted to 10th Field Ambulance, arriving in France in November 1916.

He was awarded the Military Cross at Messines in July 1917, the citation read:
'On 31st July 1917 at Gooseberry Farm Advanced Dressing Post, near Messines, this Officer was in charge of the medical arrangements. Owing to the nearness of some of our guns, the Post was heavily shelled with both HE and shrapnel. The dug-out in which he was working received three direct hits and was partially damaged. Notwithstanding this, he went on calmly working and between the hours of 7 am and 12 pm attended to over one hundred casualties. He showed throughout gallantry and devotion to duty and animated all under him with a like disregard of personal risk. He personally led and supervised the clearing of the cases and their loading into ambulances. This work was perforce done in the open and under trying conditions on account of the hostile fire. His cheerfulness and imperturbability in the face of danger encouraged and supported his men and was of great assistance in the speedy evacuation of the wounded. Between the hours of 10 am and 3 pm, when he was relieved, he dressed another seventy-five cases and had them cleared to safety.'

He was then posted to No 2 Australian General Hospital at Wimereux from April until August 1918. He was promoted to (Honorary) Major on Armistice Day 1918,(and officially 1 Jan 1921) and posted to the Group Clearing Hospital at Sutton Veny until January 1919. He returned to Australia, embarking on 28 February 1919, and was demobilised in June 1919.

The AWM Collection holds two group portraits taken at Boulogne on 11 May 1918. (The first portrait is of the staff of No 4 Block, 2nd Australian General Hospital, outside the tent wards, including Sgt J Coleman, Privates G Bell, F Tunny, R Haymes, V J Threader, T Eade, P Butcher, F Heylin, J H Furness; L/Cpl G H Burke, Majors S V Appleyard DSO, Kelly, R B North, L B Elwell MC, and R F Craig, Captains Samuel Boake, J C Glassford MC and Gratton Wilson, Sisters C L Potter, B Todhunter, I Blake, A McHardy, A J Camac, and M Fisher; and the second of Colonel Powell and officers of No 2 AGH, including Captain J C G Glassford MC).

His half-brother Captain Eric Macallan Gordon Glassford, of Kew, served with the same unit, and embarked with John Wilkie Young (Old Geelong Collegian) on HMAT A67 Orsova on 1 August 1916 from Melbourne. Eric M G Glassford was also awarded the Military Cross, the citation read:

'On 12-13 October 1917, in front of Passchendaele Ridge, from daylight until dark he was untiring in his efforts in getting wounded back from the RAP’s, each of which he visited in succession. Whilst returning from an Advanced Regimental Aid Post, finding a squad of stretcher-bearers struggling in a state of exhaustion through the mud, Captain Glassford together with his batman, Pte Dott (Andrew David Dott, of Flemington), relieved two of the bearers and assisted in carrying a wounded man for three miles under shellfire. Whilst traversing the road Captain Glassford had to pull his batman out of a shell hole where he had fallen and become embedded up to his waist. Before reaching Bremen House Relay Post, Captain Glassford and his party were repeatedly shelled. To the splendid spirit with which Captain Glassford animated the stretcher-bearers in the Forward Area and his own example of personal disregard of danger combined with his characteristic unselfish demeanour and devotion to the wounded under fire was due in some measure the excellent work of the Bearers in the Forward Area. On 14 October, on returning after dark to the Forward Area finding that a Battery position was being heavily shelled and that a dug-out had been hit and three men buried, he went with a couple of bearers and with the help of gunners, succeeded in extricating the men and in spite of the darkness was able to get them to a Motor Ambulance.'

Dr John Glassford died at the Repatriation Hospital, Caulfield on 7 December 1945. His brothers Clement Canute Gordon Glassford (1866-1909) and Napier Gilchrist Glassford (1867-1938) were also educated at Geelong College.

Sources: Geelong Collegians at the Great War compiled by James Affleck p201 (citing The University of Melbourne: Record of Active Service of Teachers, Graduates, Undergraduates, Officers and Servants (1926); AWM E02114; E02170; Pegasus; National Archives).