Sunday, 6 November 2016

Dr. Isobel Addey Tate (1877 - 1917) - Irish Medical Doctor

Isobel Addey Tate was born in County Armagh, Northern Ireland on 1st May 1877.  Her parents were John Tate and his wife Isabella Cherry Tate.  Isobel was the fifth child and first daughter of the family. 

Isobel studied medicine at Queen’s College, Royal University of Ireland in Belfast and graduated in 1899 with Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery and Bachelor of Arts in Obstetrics degrees.

Isobel worked initially in Dublin and continued her studies. In 1902, she qualified as a Doctor of Medicine from the Royal University of Ireland. On the 1901 Census, Isobel was living in Beverley in Yorkshire and working as an assistant to a surgeon.

In 1904, she was awarded the Diploma of Public Health from the Victoria University, Manchester and was appointed Resident Medical officer at Burnley Union Infirmary. 

By June 1908 Isobel was the Medical Officer for the Inspection of School Children in Shropshire and in 1914 she was appointed Public Health Officer at Manchester City Council.

During the First World War, Isabel joined Mabel Stobart’s Serbian Relief Fund as senior surgeon with the unit, in charge of the X- ray section. Her Unit sailed for Greece in April 1915, and landed in Salonika on the 17th April 1915.  The unit moved north to Kragujevac in Serbia, which housed the Serbian arsenal.  Isobel contracted typhoid fever soon after she arrived in Serbia, and was sent to Belgrade Hospital but was sent home just before the retreat from Serbia. 

Isobel died on 28th January 1917 after a short illness - her death certificate stated that she died at 5 Victoria Junction, Sliema.  She was buried on  30th January 1917 with full military honours in Pieta Military Cemetery in Malta, where the following nurses were also buried: Staff Nurse Frances E. Brace of the QAUMNS, Staff Nurse Mary Clough, Nurse Helen Batchelor Taylor, a VAD with the 4th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, and Staff Nurse Dorothy Watson of the Territorial Force Nursing Service, attached to St. John’s Military Hospital.

From the “Burnley Express” Newspaper of 13th February 1917

“Mrs Cunliffe, of Eanam Street, Blackburn, has received from her husband, Dr Riley Cunliffe (Royal Army Medical Corps), a letter describing the Military funeral, at Malta of Dr Isobel Tate.

“The funeral was quite an imposing ceremony,” writes Dr Cunliffe, “About 100 officers walked, with band, firing party, and some troops, as well as mounted police. The body was covered with the Union Jack, and drawn on a gun carriage. All the troops marched with reversed arms and dead slow. She was buried in the cemetery in the same reserved part of the ground where there are so many officers and men who have died here—Brigadier-General Lee, and others.”

In all, 82 lady doctors served in war hospitals in Malta during the First World War.

Additional information supplied and written by Andrew Thornton from “Burnley Express” and “Burnley Gazette” and Jean Siddall.

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