Captain John Henry Magoveny

Biography of Captain John Henry Magoveny

John Henry Magoveny was born on 31st January 1888 in Hillsborough, County Down, in Ireland. He was the son of Robert Henry and Jeanie Magoveny, who moved to Glasgow while he was quite young. His father was an accountant. They lived at 40 West End Park Street, and he attended Hutchesons' Grammar School, at that time still in Crown Street, in the Gorbals.

John was a prominent member of Clydesdale Harriers, winning races on several occasions and being treasurer of the club until 1911.

John's father had retired by the time he enrolled at the University to study medicine, in 1908. He was following in the footsteps of his brother Edward who had graduated in medicine, with commendations, in 1901. John was a diligent, if not outstanding, student himself, and passed all of his examinations in Anatomy, Physiology, Pathology, Surgery, Midwifery and Medical Practice on his way to graduating MB ChB in 1913. During his university career, he lived with his parents at 9 Stanley Street in Glasgow.

John barely had time to begin practicing medicine before the war broke out, and he enrolled in the services. As an OTC member he was quickly commissioned on 12th August 1914, and by 1st April 1915 he was a Captain. He was part of the British contingent sent to the Dardanelles, and he was one of more than 2,000 men listed as wounded in Gallipoli over the weekend of 11th-12th September 1915.

John had remained in the Eastern Theatre and, at the end of the main conflict, was regimental medical officer with the Cameron Highlanders which were part of the British Military Mission, South Russia led by Major-General Sir H.C. Holman. He ended up in Tiflis (an area now in Georgia), and an area in which British troops found it particularly difficult to maintain order. Press reports give his "death in action" as 19th April 1919, but the war diaries of the 2nd Glosters state "22 April 1919 - All men on duty attend funeral of Capt. Magoveny, RAMC who was murdered in the town on 20th inst ".

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has used the 19th, so that must be considered the definitive one. His funeral on 22nd April was noted in other press reports as being attended by “all British Troops available”, and those troops would include his own, the Cameronians, and the Glosters. He was buried in the Tiflis British Cemetery.

Because of the nature of this mission, reports of his death did not appear in the British Press for another month. Subsequent creation of the Soviet Republic meant that this cemetery, along with several others, was not accessible to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. In order to preserve their memory, the names of those buried in Tiflis were inscribed on the Memorial Wall of the Haidar Pasha cemetery in the outskirts of Istanbul. 14 other cemeteries were similarly cut off by being in territories controlled by the USSR, and also had their names added to the Memorial Wall.

John is also commemorated on the Hutchesons' Grammar School memorial and the City of Glasgow Roll of Honour.


Captain John Henry Magoveny
Rank: Captain
Regiment: Royal Army Medical Corps - 2nd Battalion Cameron Highlanders
Degree: MB ChB
Awards: N/A
Comments: Killed in action 20 April 1919. Attended Hutchesons Grammar School
Note/Press Clipping: N/A
Photo ID: Ch 4/4/2/2/178

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