Paul from Whitehorse wrote me recently looking for help in finding the family of Dr. James Gordon McLeod, a medical doctor who served with the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps during the Second World War.
Paul is trying to find Dr. McLeod’s family in the hopes of giving them Dr. McLeod’s medical bag, which he discovered recently sitting next to a dumpster in Whitehorse.
“The bag contains a sphygmomanometer, stethoscope, stainless steel syringe frame and several leather cases containing various drugs in glass ampoules,” Paul wrote. “The bag also contains a vial of adrenaline hydrochloride bearing an expiry date in 1952. So, either Dr. McLeod was alive and practicing at this time, or another doctor was using the kit.”
Along with Dr. McLeod’s medical tools, Paul also found Dr. McLeod’s Canadian Medical Council license, issued in July 1938. The unsigned license, dated July 6, 1938, is in pristine condition. It appears that Dr. McLeod never took his license out of the mailing tube it came in.
So who was Dr. McLeod and how did his medical bag come to be left next to a dumpster in Whitehorse?
The Alaska Highway was built during the Second World War and a large number of military personnel were stationed in the North, so it’s conceivable Dr. McLeod was attached to that force.
However, Paul checked with the Yukon Medical Association and it has no record of McLeod practicing in the Yukon. He also checked with the Canadian Medical Council, the Vancouver General Hospital and the British Columbia Medical Association, all of which could offer no information.
Paul did find a record of a Lt. James McLeod who was stationed in Dundurn, Sask. at a RCAMC camp hospital in 1940. Lt. McLeod was then transferred overseas in 1943 to the No. 2 Light Field Ambulance, which coincidentally and surprisingly is the field ambulance my grandfather served with in Italy at the same time!
Paul has hit a dead end and he’s looking for help. Does anyone have any ideas or suggestions that would help Paul find McLeod’s identity and track down his family? Any and all help would be appreciated!
Jan 16 Went to Naples by ambulance and visited there while car went on to Caserta. Went to the base post office about my mail, and did not find any. Walked around the City until the Ambulance returned. in the evening driving home, Vesuvius put on a grand show for us. Flames shooting high in the air and red hot lava pouring down the side of the hill. Won several games of cribbage in the mess after returning home.
Jan. 17 Orderly officer today – no excitement.
Jan. 18 Col McFarlane, Montgomery, and Hunter arrived tonight. Had a long talk with McFarlane and Hunter. Expect to sail the latter part of next week, quite possible on a Hospital Ship. Don’t know what job I will be put on in England.
Jan. 19 – Two young M.O.s from here called in draft, so we are short handed. I am taking admitting office today and tomorrow until the two are replaced.
Jan. 20 – McLeod and I went in to Naples today – did some shopping and went to the Officers Club for lunch, and then went to the electric railway, up the Mt. overlooking Naples. Visited Faro San Elmo (sp), the most massive castle I have ever seen, were very fortunate in being shown all through by Americans, and from the top saw the grandest view of Naples and harbour with all sorts of ships in it. We bought tickets for San Carlos Opera Co. and will go in and see it tomorrow. Brig. McCusker was here tonight – I had a grand talk with him – he assured me he has recommended me for DADMS – 2nd Army Tank Bdge in England, but I’ll believe it when I see it.
Jan. 22 – Just about ready to start to Naples with Maj. Howard to see Tosca at the San Carlos Theatre. The Bact. lab, the Field Hygiene lab, and the 4th Field Surgical Unit are leaving very shortly for San Vito. The #3 F.D.S. will very shortly be leaving too – so our whole ancillaries setup will be changed, at about the same time I leave. Gus McCarrol and Touve are going back to England with me. Touve was on the course with me in Cambridge two years ago. Sent world last night to see whether Frank Fish could come over on Monday to see me, as I do not dare to go that far away from home as the draft may be called any time after today.
Jan. 2(?) – Maj. Howard and I went in to Napoli in an open truck. Went to the San Marcos Opera House to see Tosca. it was really wonderful. The singers and scenery were both grand, but the Opera House was the most gorgeous thing I have ever seen. A huge floor and six rows of boxes going completely around the semi-circle, each row containing 35 boxes. Went out and had a drink with two Officers of the Free French. The landing north of Rome today – I wonder what next. I expect to move from here very shortly now.
Jan. 25 – All packed and ready to leave for N.E.T.D. Rumours have it that we leave there tonight at midnight and go on board ship on the morning of the 26th and sail on the 27th but I do not know. Maj. McLeod leaves this morning also. The whole hospital will be changed by the last of the week:
Preese, Calvert, Nanskovill
Moved to Farino about nine miles from Avellino – signed papers – met all sorts of my old friends going back on the same boat. Buchanan is here, also Doug Harkness, Frank Royal, and all the boys from the 11, 12, and 14th.
Jan. 26 – All our luggage went this morning and we are sleeping on the floor tonight – have scrounged two swell American, so am o.k. We get up at 5:00 a.m. tomorrow and fall in at 8 a.m. – then sign all our embarkation papers and pulled out at 9 a.m. by truck for Naples, where we hope to get aboard right away. Last night Bruce Touve and I went in to the 3rd F.D.S. for our final evening. Am going to turn in fairly early tonight.
Jan. 27 – Moved off Farino by truck at 9 a.m. Landed in Naples just off Garibaldi Square at 12 noon. Marched to dock at 4 p.m. after Doug Harkness, Johansen and I had a good meal of fried eggs,, friend potatoes and macaroni. Boarded the Almanzara, good room – four to a cabin, most excellent meals.
Jan. 28 – Doug Harkness, Findlay, Fullerton and I eating at the same table. Pulled out at 10 a.m. just now passing Vesuvius with Isle of Capri off to our right. Our convoy consists of four passenger liners and six little Italian Frigates as escort.
Jan. 29 – Saturday – Good day yesterday and last night. Passed Cape Bon, Africa at noon – have now passed the Bay of Tunis and are approaching Bizerte – 2 p.m., another large Convoy has joined us. About ten fairly large vessels and we seem to be making awfully good time. Apparently it is not going to be another slow Convoy like we came out in. In my cabin are: Capt. Brudin – Judge Advocate, Capt. Fullerton – S/Capt. 2nd Echelon from Saskatoon, Capt. Waldy – A.A. from the Thousand Islands. Doug Harkness, Major Findlay and myself, all from Calgary, and Fullerton from Saskatoon are eating at the same table. Good grub, good sleeping accommodation and good sailing. Don’t know how long it will take us to get back to England, but we are doing fine so far. We are now in the position where the the ship carrying the 14th Gen Hosp was sunk.
Jan. 30 – One of the most beautiful days I have ever seen. Our ship, with two small destroyers, has pulled ahead of the Convoy, apparently to pull in either at Oran or Gibraltar for fuel and then rejoin the Convoy. We will be passing Algiers in an hour or so. This morning we had a grand Church service in the lounge; sang all the old hymns most lustily. 3rd day out and bacon and eggs for breakfast.
Jan. 31 – 6 p.m. pulled into Gibraltar in daylight. A wonderful scene. We were in several hours before the rest of our Convoy and dropped anchor in the harbour in order to take on a few passengers and oil. At night, the scene was wonderful. The whole side of the rock was lit up and both sides of the strait were a blaze of light. It was beautiful watching the scene lights pick up the planes. We rejoined the Convoy after midnight.
Dec. 31, 1943
Took over two wards in Medicine and am really enjoying myself and keeping fairly busy.
New Year’s Eve – all the officers but the one on duty went again to the Monastery for dinner. Another grand dinner and then we came home to our own New Years party. Rather tame but o.k. Ducce Ferguson was here. He is a Lt. Col. now. Also, Royal arrived as a patient. We sand the Old Year out and the New Year in.
Jan. 1, 1944
A terrible day. A very wild snow storm on, almost a blizzard and it is very cold here. I am Admitting Officer today and will be Duty Officer tonight, so was not able to return to the Monastery today. Still no word of my future movements.
Am working with Major Howard and Major McLeod, doing some work on Infectious Hepatitis and some lab work. Apparently, there is a dispute on between the powers that be as to where I am going. one side wants to send me to England to instruct in Armour and the other side wants to send me to the 5th Div. Personally I would prefer the latter. Until that is settled, I stay here. Will be here for New Year at least and I am getting plenty of interesting work, so am happy.
Still very cold and windy. Know nothing further. Today have been working in admitting office and doing Unit censor. Passes time away.
Terribly cold and wet today. Have not had any further instructions yet.
Xmas day – got up around 9 A.M. – had a bite of breakfast, then went to Church where Lark had the service, then went up to Marigliano had a shave, talked to a bunch of boys around the streets, went in to an Italian house where I know the people and drank hot coffee and Vermouth for a Bon Natale. Returned to lunch then cracked hazel nuts for a couple of hours. Slept and am now just going to go in for Xmas dinner. The Xmas dinner was a huge success. Canned turkey and fried pork, vegetables, canned Plum Pudding. It really was grand. A lot of Officers from the Reinforcement Camp came in the evening. On the whole it was a very nice Xmas.