Summary

Title: Papers of Dr J W Springthorpe.

Date range: 1914-1931.

Reference number: 2DRL/0701.

Extent: 0.5 shelf metres (3 boxes, 24 albums and 1 folio).

Location: Private Records collection, Research Centre, Australian War Memorial.

Abstract: The papers in the Springthorpe collection document his First World War military career in the Australian Army Medical Service with No 2. Australian General Hospital and No. 3 Australian Auxiliary Hospital. Included in the collection is a typed diary, correspondence (especially concerning the 1915 inquiry into the operations of the Red Cross in Egypt) and, Springthorpe's work with war neuroses, post war repatriation and pensions. There are also records relating to Springthorpe's assistance to A.G. Butler, the official medical historian.

 

Administrative information

Provenance: The records were donated to the Memorial in 1934 and in 1937 by Springthorpe's widow, Daisie Springthorpe.

Access: Open.

Restrictions on use: Copyright of materials described in this guide is governed by copyright law in Australia. For further information contact the Curator of Private Records, Research Centre. Copying is not permitted.

Preferred citation: Guide to the papers of Dr John William Springthorpe, 2DRL/0701.

 

Additional information

 

Related collections:

Australian War Memorial

  • MSS0775, Original manuscript 'Australia at War: the great advance: Anzac and Amiens' and five articles covering aspects of life in Egypt and on the Gallipoli Peninsula.
  • 3DRL/0250, Sir James Barrett papers.
  • AWM11, item 1507/24/2, Reports on shell shock (neuroses) by Lieutenant Colonel Springthorpe 1918.
  • AWM25, item 267/1, Report on cardiac cases and their treatment at No. 3 Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Dartford, Kent, by Lieutenant Colonel JW Springthorpe 1916-1918.
  • Series of photographs donated by Mrs Springthorpe: HI8936, HI8946, HI8949-55, HI8961, PS1087, photograph of Doctors Sir Stanley Argyll and Col Springthorpe.

National Archives of Australia Articles and Papers

  • A1336, John William Springthorpe, includes articles, 'Therapeutics, Dietetics and Hygiene', An Australian Text Book with Illustrations, Volumes 1 & 2.
  • A2487, Application for free passage. J. Springthorpe.
  • A2487, Offer of Services - Dr. J.W. Springthorpe.

Subjects:

  • No 2. Australian General Hospital
  • No. 3 Australian Auxiliary Hospital
  • Red Cross
  • Surgery
  • Diaries
  • Correspondence

 

Biographical note

John William Springthorpe was born on 29 August 1855, at Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, England. He came to Australia as a young child to Balmain, Sydney, were he was educated at Fort Street Model School and Sydney Grammar School. From 1872, Springthorpe attended Wesley College in Melbourne. He graduated from University of Melbourne with M.A., M.B., B.S., in 1879 and M.D. in 1884. He went to England and in 1881, and became the first Australian graduate admitted to membership of the Royal College of Physicians.

Springthorpe returned to Melbourne in late 1883 and obtained posts as pathologist to the Alfred Hospital and out-patient physician to the Melbourne Hospital. He was elected as an in-patient physician in 1887 to Melbourne Hospital. This was under controversial circumstances, as he was alleged to have breached professional ethics by using an unsuitable election circular. This was later vindicated. In 1887 he became a university lecturer at the University of Melbourne in therapeutics, dietetics and hygiene. Meanwhile, his Collins Street practice flourished. He wrote a number of articles and journals, including the two-volume textbook, 'Therapeutics, dietetics and hygiene (1914)'.

Springthorpe had varied interests, particularly in the arts and he collected many paintings and sculptures. He was also involved in ambulance work, child welfare, mothercraft nurses' education and amateur cycling and facilitated the setting up of a training and registration system in dentistry and was the first Dean of the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Melbourne. He helped establish the Royal Victorian Trained Nurses Association, becoming its first president in 1901. He launched the journal, 'Una', working with Felix Meyer. Springthorpe frequently held official positions in numerous organisations, including being president of the Victorian branch of the British Medical Association in 1891 and president of the Melbourne Medical Association in 1900.

In 1914, he enlisted in the Australian Army Medical Corps as a Lieutenant Colonel. He became senior physician to No. 2 Australian General Hospital, Ghizereh Palace hospital, Egypt. He was part of the fierce opposition to Sir James Barrett in Egypt, especially concerning Barrett's work with the Red Cross. Springthorpe attacked Barrett's work as executive officer of the Australian Red Cross Society and Assistant Director of Medical Services, of the Australian General Hospital. Springthorpe returned to Australia in January 1916 to present a report to the authorities criticising the general organisation of the Red Cross in Egypt.

The Committee of the Red Cross Inquiry was formed in October 1916, to investigate the charges brought against Lt Col Barrett, in connection with the Australian Branch of the British Red Cross Society. Barrett in response to Springthorpe's allegations requested that a general inquiry be held. Springthorpe was also involved into the inquiry into No. 1 Australian General Hospital which was also requested by Barrett. Lt Col Springthorpe asked that the Inquiry be a general one into the entire administration of the Australian Red Cross, and that the Committee should then decide who was responsible for any lack of administration is should find to exist.

Springthorpe refused to specify the charges he made against Lt Col Barrett, except on the general lines that he, as chief executive officer, had been guilty of poor distribution of personal comforts; and that the chief cause of the faulty administration in these respects was that he had been unable to give the time necessary for the adequate administration of the Red Cross business.

The Committee considered each of the charges in detail and dedicated that the majority of them were matters which the Red Cross was not responsible for. Springthorpe dropped the charges that related to matters of ordnance and also charges in respect of medical equipment. The charges were reduced to those only that Barrett showed a lack of precision and supervision, and that he was responsible for faulty distribution of personal comforts. The committee determined that the reason for the faulty distribution was that Barrett had undertaken so much work he was unable to give adequate time to this task. No action was taken resulting from the inquiry.

In March 1916, Springthorpe returned to Egypt and then went to France and England, where he worked with soldiers suffering from nervous disorders and later joined No. 3 Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Dartford, Kent.

He returned home in 1919, to find that his appointments at the University of Melbourne and Alfred hospital had expired. He resumed his post of Visitor to Metropolitan Asylums, recommenced private practice and worked on repatriation and the infant welfare movement. He was at this stage hampered by deafness.

Springthorpe was known as 'Springy', due to his diminutive stature but dynamic personality and lively mind. He kept detailed notes and recorded his ideas and thoughts in notebooks which he kept, with interruptions, since 1883. He married Annie Constance Marie Inglis with Methodist forms at Richmond, Victoria, on 26 January 1887. They had four children. She died during childbirth in 1897. He married Daisie Evelyn Johnstone, a nurse and daughter of his housekeeper on 15 March 1916, at Hawthorne, Victoria. Springthorpe died at Richmond, on 22 April 1933. His was survived by his second wife and three of the four children of his first marriage. His youngest son, Guy, became a well-known Melbourne psychiatrist.

References:

1. Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12: 1891-1939, Smy - Z, Melbourne University Press, 1990.

2. Johns F, Who's Who in Australia, 1927-1928, Adelaide, 1927.

3. AWM43, Official History 1914-1918 war, biographical files.

4. AWM140, Official History 1914-1918 war, biographical cards.

Scope and content note

The papers of Lieutenant Colonel John Springthorpe are held within the Private Records collection at the Australian War Memorial's Research Centre. They document Springthorpe's war time military career in the Australian Army Medical service with No. 2 Australian General Hospital. The papers occupy 0.5 shelf metres and comprise a range of record types: a typed medical diary, Springthorpe's war time correspondence, correspondence relating to repatriation and after war related correspondence, records relating to the Australian Red Cross Society Inquiry and articles and papers written by Springthorpe relating to his First World War service.

Series List:

Series number Title of Series and Date
1 Medical diary, 1914 - 1918
2 Red Cross Inquiry, Egypt, 1915
3 Articles and papers by J.W. Springthorpe, 1916-1929
4 First World War correspondence 1914-1918
5 Post war and repatriation correspondence, 1917- 1933

SERIES 1: Medical diary, 1914 - 1918

Description: This series includes Springthorpe's medical diary prepared for A.G. Butler (the Medical Historian) from notes he kept during the war. Butler has added comments to the front cover. The diary entries include comments relating to Springthorpe's military appointments, general medical matters and conditions, inspections, movements, sicknesses and meetings with other medical personnel.

Series/Wallet Title, date and description Box
1/1 'Medical extracts from diary'. Contains copy of manuscript amendments of a typed extract of Springthorpe's diaries. The extracts relate to his military appointments, general medical matters and conditions, inspections, movements, sicknesses, meetings with other medical personnel. 1914 - 1918. 1
1/2 Springthorpe's 'Medical diary of the war prepared for use of the Medical War Historian', cover annotated by Butler. 1914 - 1920 1

SERIES 2: Red Cross Inquiry, Egypt, 1915

Description: This series contains correspondence relating to the Red Cross Inquiry, Egypt, 1915. It includes a list of charges and handwritten notes and a summary of evidence from the inquiry. The series also includes newspaper cuttings relating to the Red Cross Inquiry and the work of the Red Cross in 1915. A full copy of the inquiry is included, as well as the minutes of evidence to the Inquiry.


Series/Wallet Title, date and description Box
2/1 Red Cross Inquiry Egypt 1915. Miscellaneous correspondence, list of charges, Springthorpe's handwritten notes for the inquiry and summary of evidence. 1
2/2 Papers and evidence relating the Red Cross Inquiry including: the British Red Cross and Order of St John in Malta; Egypt and the Near East report by Chief Commissioner May 1915 - February 1916; the British Red Cross Society The Origins, Objects and Organisation of the Society, London 1915; the British Red Cross Society Australian Branch Report of the Committee of Inquiry Egypt annotated by Springthorpe; and the James Barrett's Report on the work of the Australian Branch, British Red Cross in Egypt from March to September 1915. 1
2/3 Copy of the report of the Red Cross Inquiry Egypt including cablegrams and correspondence. June to August 1916 1
2/4 - 2/5 Minutes of evidence of the Red Cross Inquiry Egypt 1915 Part I & II, pages 1 - 384 1
2/6 - 2/7 Minutes of evidence of the Red Cross Inquiry Egypt 1915 Part III & IV pages 385 - 776 2
2/8 Newspaper cuttings relating to the Red Cross Inquiry and Red Cross work 1915. 71 articles. Folio/oversize

SERIES 3: Articles and papers by J.W. Springthorpe, 1916 - 1929

Description: This series consists of a number of papers which Springthorpe wrote from his experiences in the First World War. Papers include: 'Twelve months' service', 1916; 'Report on cardiac cases and their treatment at No. 3 A.A.H.' November 1916 - July 1918; 'War neuroses and civil practice', August 1919; 'Some lessons of the War', September 1920; 'Psychology: its basis and application' 1922; and articles and notes given to Butler 1916-1929.


Series/Wallet Title, date and description Box
3/1 'War Neuroses and Civil Practice' lecture delivered at the Melbourne Hospital post graduate course by Springthorpe August 1919 and other articles by Springthorpe including 'Psychology: its basis and application' 1922 and 'Twelve Months' service at the front' from the Medical Journal of Australia 1916 and articles and notes to Butler 1916 - 1929. 2
3/2 Article by Springthorpe, 'Report on cardiac cases and their treatment at No. 3 A.A.H.' Dartford. November 1916 - July 1918. 2
3/3 Springthorpe's paper prepared for the Medical Congress at Brisbane 1920, on 'Some Lessons of the War'. This paper was sent to Senator Pearce in September 1920. 2

SERIES 4: First World War Correspondence, 1914-1918

Description: This series comprises of letters sent to Springthorpe and copies of some of his replies. The letters relate to the Australian Imperial Force Administration Headquarters, and letters from relatives seeking information about the men in Springthorpe's care and acknowledgement of his letters of condolences. There are two watercolour and pastel caricatures of Springthorpe and also his certificate of his commissioning as a Lieutenant Colonel in October 1914. Also included are a series of statistics and correspondence concerning No. 2 Australian General Hospital, Egypt.


Series/Wallet Title, date and description Box
4/1 Original letters sent to Springthorpe and some copies of his replies. Included are letters from Australian Imperial Force Administrative Headquarters in Cairo November 1915, the Red Cross and from relatives seeking information about men in Springthorpe's care and acknowledgement of his letters of condolence. It also contains information about his appointment to the Australian Army Medical Corps and his arrangements for his civilian appointment at Melbourne Hospital. The file also covers war time notes and correspondence concerning Springthorpe and fellow officers. There are water colour and pastel caricatures of Springthorpe and the certificate of his commissioning as a Lieutenant Colonel in October 1914 and souvenirs autographed by his patients 1909, 1914 to 1931. 2
4/2 Folder Springthorpe's correspondence and reports relating to the conference with the Director of Medical Services and Director General of Medical Services May and June 1918. Folder also contains correspondence between Springthorpe and newspapers regarding printing extracts from his medical diary. 2
4/3 Statistics of Enteric fever diagnosed bacteriologically to 30 July 1915, Correspondence concerning No. 2 Australian General Hospital. 2
4/4 No. 3 Australian Auxiliary Hospital, correspondence, instructions and orders. 2

SERIES 5: Post war and repatriation correspondence, 1917- 1933

Description: This series includes correspondence relating to the organisation of post war medical services. It includes Springthorpe's correspondence relating to repatriation and papers on the treatment of war neuroses as well as his correspondence to A.G. Butler. Subjects covered include Springthorpe's diary, the compilation and use of statistics, the diet of troops on Gallipoli, Springthorpe's comments on volume one of the medical history of Australia in the First World War, the evolution of medical services and the responsibility for medical matters on the first convoy. The series contains pages from 'The Medical Journal of Australia' (1930-1931) and related correspondence.


Series/Wallet Title, date and description Box
5/1 Organisation of medical services, post war. February - March 1921. 3
5/2 Springthorpe's correspondence relating to repatriation and papers on the treatment of war neuroses and conferences he attended, including Inter Allied Conference London on pensions, after care of disabled men, allowances and repatriation benefits in 1918. 1917 - 1922. 3
5/3 Correspondence with the medical historian, A.G. Butler concerning Springthorpe's assistance to Butler and comments on repatriation matters and the Military Mental Hospital at Mont Park, Heidelberg 1924 - 1933. 3
5/4 Correspondence, including letters from individual veterans and their families. Letters regarding Springthorpe's termination of service in the AIF and letters concerning Springthorpe's arrangement of lectures in Victoria for the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia. 1918-1919 3
5/5 Correspondence, information and reports about repatriation matters. 1918. 3
5/6 Correspondence, information and reports about repatriation matters. Included is correspondence with the Red Cross Society. Subjects covered include information on those suffering neuroses, repatriation and after care. Springthorpe's work at Red Cross Epileptic Cottage at Clayton and Talbot Colony. 1919 - 1932. 3
5/7 File of correspondence between Springthorpe and Butler and his team. Subjects covered include Springthorpe's diary, the compilation and use of statistics, the diet of troops on Gallipoli, Springthorpe's comments on volume one, the evolution of medical services and the responsibility for medical matters on the first convoy. Also includes Springthorpe's handwritten reply to Maudsley and his article criticising Howse's role, Butler's reply to these comments. Contains pages from 'The Medical Journal of Australia' 1930-1931 and correspondence related to the article. Also included is a copy of Springthorpe's article, 'Some lessons of the war', 1919 - 1931. 3

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