Discharged Returned Soldier Badge: Major General Sir Neville Howse, VC, Australian Army Medical Corps, AIF

Place Oceania: Australia
Accession Number RELAWM16323
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Badge
Physical description Brass
Maker Stokes & Sons, Melbourne
Place made Australia
Date made c 1920
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Discharged Returned Soldier Badge. Impressed on reverse with badge serial number '185676' and 'STOKES & SONS MELB'.

History / Summary

Discharged Returned Soldier Badge awarded to Major General Sir Neville Reginald Howse. The badge was awarded to all soldiers and nurses who returned to Australia from active service overseas and were discharged.

Howse was born in the village of Stogursy in Somerset, England, on 26 October 1863, one of ten surviving children of Dr Alfred and Lucy Elizabeth (nee Conroy) Howse. Neville was educated at Taunton before studying medicine at London Hospital, graduating as a medical practitioner in 1887. In 1888 he worked as an assistant demonstrator in anatomy at Durham University but resigned a year later due to ill health. He migrated to Australia the same year in the hope that the warmer climate would aid his 'weak lungs'.

He set up a private practice in Taree before accepting the position of medical officer at the small Manning River District Hospital. In 1895, he returned to England for post-graduate studies in surgery. Following the completion of his degree in 1899 he returned to Australia and set up practice in Orange. Shortly afterward accepted the position of medical officer at Orange Hospital.

In January 1900, responding to a call for troops for the war in South Africa, Howse enlisted in the second contingent of the New South Wales Army Medical Corps as a lieutenant. He embarked on 17 January 1900, reaching Capetown on 18 February.

For his actions in saving the life of a bugler while under heavy fire near Vredefort on 24 July, Howse was awarded the Victoria Cross. He remains the only Australian medical officer to receive the award. He was promoted to captain on 15 October 1900 and returned to Australia in February 1901. He returned to South Africa for a brief period in 1902 as senior officer in command of the bearer company of the Commonwealth Horse.

Howse went on to serve with distinction in the First World War, in New Guinea, Gallipoli, Egypt, England and on the Western Front, gaining numerous recognitions for his service. In June 1915, he was awarded the Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) for his work in treating and evacuating the wounded following the landing at Gallipoli. On 1 January 1917, he was appointed Knight Commander of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (KCB). In June 1919, he was made Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) quickly followed by appointment to Knight of the Grace of the Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem.

Following the war, Howse was appointed Director General of Army Medical Services, before entering politics as Member for Calare in November 1922. After losing his seat in a landslide election defeat in 1929, Howse returned to England for a holiday. In England, while hospitalised for gallstones, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Major General Sir Neville Howse died on 19 September 1930, aged 63 years. He was buried beside his father at Kensal Green Cemetery in London.