Sunday, April 25, 2010

J.J.Elbert M.B.E., M.B, CH.B, D.T.M.&H. - the missing link uncovered

British Medical Journal 16 December 1972 Obituary Notices. page 677

Dr. J.J. Elbert, who was in general practice in the City of London, died on 9 November after a short illness. He was 58.
John Jacob Elbert was born at Worcester, Massachusetts, on 12 September 1914 and educated at Rothesay Academy, where he won the dux gold medal, and at Glasgow University, where he graduated in medicine in 1937. After a house appointment at Altrincham Hospital he joined the R.A.M.C. on the outbreak of the second world war and was posted to West Africa as regimental medical officer to the 6th Battalion of the Nigeria Regiment, Royal West African Frontier Force. On arrival in India his battalion was detached to form part of General Wingate's force, the Chindits, and Dr. Elbert served with distinction in the 1944 Chindit operations behind the enemy lines in north Burma. He was mentioned in dispatches and appointed M.B.E. for his part in organizing the reception and evacuation of sick and wounded Chindits from the jungle airstrip at "Aberdeen" (Mawlu). After the war he joined the Colonial Medical Service as a Government medical officer in Nigeria and served for more than ten years in the Eastern Region, attaining the rank of senior medical officer. When the region was granted self-government in 1957 he retired from Government service and went into private practice at Port Harcourt. at the outbreak of the Nigerian civil war in 1967 he had to abandon his practice, and when at last he was able to return to Port Harcourt it was to find his house in ruins and his property pillaged. After a period of service with the International Red Cross in the war-stricken areas he returned to England and in 1969 joined a practice as third partner.
In jocular allusion to his unconcealed delight in the good things of life John Elbert used to say that for him the best was barely enough. Whatever he undertook, in work or play, he tackled with energy and the resolution never to accept any standard but the best. He prided himself on being a good doctor; any patient could be sure of his undivided attention, but for his African patients he had a special affection and was rewarded in turn with their liking and trust. The news of his early death will be received with deep sorrow both in Britain and in Nigeria.
He is survived by his wife, son and daughter.

I did not know he existed until today. I was researching other members of his family, specifically his sister Laura Serepta Elbert and his mother Sarah Leitch. His great grandmother was my great great grandmother's sister and it has bothered me for quite a while that this family was being "elusive". I found a family tree on which turned out to be wrong but I did a bit of digging and got everything sorted out via census records, ships manifests, marriage records, newspaper articles, BMD records and a few other odds and ends :)
All of this because I wanted to know what had happened to his dad and what his first name was. His dad's  name was also John Jacob and he died in 1920, Sarah had emigrated to the USA in 1913 after marrying him then returned to Rothesay at some point after John sr's death where she died in 1965.
All of John jr's sisters died in Scotland (which I already knew).
It was Sarah's application for a passport in 1921 that "sealed the deal" so to speak because it confirmed a lot of information I had already run across but had not quite connected all the dots yet.
As for the unknown wife and children in the obituary they showed up in a ship's manifest.
What was the big link for everyone? A house address in Rothesay that covered 4 generations of the family and showed up in numerous pieces of paperwork.

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