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Surgeon Honoria Somerville Keer

Biography of Surgeon Honoria Somerville Keer

Honoria Somerville Keer was born in Toronto, Canada, on 26 December 1883, the daughter of Colonel Jonathan Keer (1825-1907), ex HM Bengal Staff Corps, and Eliza Somerville (1848-1921).

She studied medicine at the University of Glasgow from 1903 until 1910, graduating MB ChB in 1910, and was registered as a medical practitioner by the Scottish Branch of the General Medical Council on 19th April 1910.

From May 1915 until February 1918 Dr Keer served as Assistant Medical Officer with the Girton and Newnham Unit of the Scottish Women's Hospital for Foreign Service, first in France and then in Salonica, Macedonia. She was awarded the French Croix de Guerre, French Médaille d'Honneur and the Serbian Order of St Sava.

From 1918 until 1919 she held the post of Chief Medical Officer for medical care of Serbian refugees at L'hôpital des Dames Ecossaise, Villa Miet, Ajaccio, Corsica. On her return from Corsica she offered herself for service with the Colonial Service and, after gaining the Diploma in Tropical Medicine & Hygiene from the London School of Tropical Medicine (1924), she was appointed to the post of Lady Medical Officer at the Massey Street Dispensary, Lagos, Nigeria in 1925.

Having completed the necessary period of probationary service, her appointment as Lady Medical Officer was confirmed in February 1929, whilst she was on home leave and undertaking further post graduate study at the West London Hospital. She returned to Nigeria in June 1929 and, with the exception of an extended period of home/sick leave in 1931, continued to serve as Lady Medical Officer until 1934. As a result of her long periods of service overseas she suffered from recurrent hearing problems.

During the Second World War Dr Keer was an active participant in the Women's Voluntary Service for Civil Defence and, under the guidance of Lady Reading, helped with the dispatch of the Queen's letter to householders, in which Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth expressed her gratitude to householders for the hospitality given to families during the evacuation. Dr Keer spent much of the remainder of her life in London, where she died on 20th March 1969.

Dr Keer's academic gown, mortar and hood were given to the Bedellus of the University of Glasgow on 25th June 1986.

The family and personal papers of Dr Keer are held by Glasgow University Archive Services. (GUAS Ref: DC 171)

 

Summary

Surgeon Honoria Somerville Keer
Rank: Surgeon
Regiment: Scottish Womens Hospital
Degree: MB ChB
Awards: French Croix de Guerre, French Medaille D'Honneur, Serbian Order of St Sava
Comments: N/A
Note/Press Clipping: N/A
Photo ID: N/A

Sources

Papers of Honoria Somerville Keer, MB ChB, student, 1903-1910 (GUAS Ref: DC 171)

University Student and General Council Records

Medical Directories

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