Roll of Honour


Harry Sherwood Ranken, VC

Victoria Cross, Chevalier Legion D'epidemies, Mentioned in Despatches


Harry Sherwood Ranken was born on 3rd September 1883, son of Henry a minister in Irvine, Ayrshire. He first enrolled at the University of Glasgow in summer 1900 and over the course of his studies he won eight prizes.

Image of Henry (Harry) Sherwood Ranken

These included three surgery prizes in the classes of Professor Sir William Macewen, who served in the war as Consulting Surgeon to the Admiralty. He received his MB ChB degrees in July 1905. In 1910 he became a member of the Royal College of Physicians of London.

Before entering military service, Captain Ranken had been a member of the Sudan Sleeping Sickness Commission and had held posts at Glasgow's Western Infirmary and at the Brook Fever Hospital in London. He was author and co-author of articles including "Representations on Experimental Treatment of Trypanosomiasis" in the Proceedings of the Royal Society 1910-1911.

He entered the Army in 1909 and excelled in his studies at the Army Medical College being promoted to Captain in 1912. For gallant conduct under fire in France between 21st and 30th August he was awarded the Croix de Chevalier of the French Legion of Honour.

On 19th and 20th September 1914 at Haute-Avesnes, France, Captain Ranken was severely wounded in the leg whilst attending to his duties on the battlefield under shrapnel and rifle fire. He stopped the bleeding and bound it up, then continued to dress the wounds of his men, sacrificing his own chance of survival to their needs. When he finally permitted himself to be carried to the rear at Braisne, his wounds were too severe and he died on 25th September. For this act of heroism he was awarded the Victoria Cross which is now held at the Army Medical Services Museum in Aldershot.

His will which had been written on 30th May 1910, was confirmed in court in Ayr on 16th December 1914. Alan Rain Ranken, his brother (a University of Glasgow law student at the time the will was drawn up) and George Haswell Wilson, his University friend, were his executors. He left an estate valued at GBP 1,400 1s 4d.

In 1924, his parents founded a University of Glasgow prize in his memory. It is still awarded annually to the candidate who obtains the highest number of marks in the professional examinations in Pathology.

Comments and Citations

University of Glasgow Student Records

The Medical Directory 1914

Calendar of Confirmation 1915

Military History Encyclopaedia on the Web