Roll of Honour
James Maitland Downie
Russian Order of Saint Anne
James Maitland Downie, known as Maitland, was born in Glasgow on the 30th May 1893, and was the son of James and Elsie. His father was a Lecturer on Diseases of the Throat and Nose at the University of Glasgow, and the family - including Maitland's sister Margaret - lived nearby at 4 Woodside Crescent. Maitland was educated at Glasgow Academy before attending Leighton Park - a boarding school in Reading.
After finishing school, Maitland took up a place at Christ's Church College, Cambridge in 1911. There he achieved a BA with first-class honours in the Natural Science Tripos of 1914. His distinguished examination performance saw him be admitted as a scholar and exhibitioner of the College.
Maitland's studies were not yet complete, and - having returned to Glasgow in 1914 - Maitland started a Medical degree at the University. At the same time as his studies Maitland also worked as a Resident House Surgeon of the Western Infirmary. He also achieved the diploma of Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians (London), and Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons. These qualifications allowed James to be a member of one of the four surgical royal colleges in the UK and Ireland.
Aware of the ongoing war, Maitland joined the University of Glasgow Officers' Training Corps. On the 4th of August 1916, Maitland was commissioned to the Special Reserve of the Royal Army Medical Corps, and was promoted to Captain six months later. He was posted to Mesopotamia, and attached to the the 32nd British General Hospital in Amara. By Christmas 1917, he had passed the Army examination in Arabic, and was transferred to Qualet Saleh as a civil surgeon. He had also learned Persian, with the hopes of being able to transfer to a hospital in Persia. Maitland was renowned for being a lover of children and of nature, and was well known within the hospital for having a wild cat and an owl as pets.
Captain James Maitland Downie died at the British General Hospital in Basr. After contracting influenza from his patients, Maitland died on the 29th October, 1918. He is buried at Basra War Cemetery, where his grave reads the words "Greater Love Hast No Man Than This, Than A Man Lay Down His Life For His Friends", which were chosen by his mother.
He is remembered by his Universities and his school.
Comments and Citations
With thanks to Nigel Dewar Gibb for providing additional information about James Maitland Downie.