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George Yuille Caldwell (1880-1946)

Doctor from Crook served at 17th VAD Hospital and with RAMC in Salonica

George Caldwell was born in the year 1880 at Annan in Dumfries, the third of eight children of Robert and Agnes Caldwell. His father Robert owned an ironmongers shop in the Market Place in Annan. His mother was born Agnes Yuille, hence the unusual second Christian name of many subsequent members of the Caldwell family.

George must have done well at school and, with the encouragement of the local pharmacist, he enrolled in the Medical School at Glasgow University from where he graduated in July 1904 with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degree. Between his graduation in 1904 and his first marriage in 1908 not a great deal is known, other than that he undertook a voyage, as a ship’s doctor, with Blue Funnel Line to the Far East and back. It is assumed that he met his first wife, Elsie Lake, during this voyage. After their marriage in Plymouth, Elsie’s home town, they moved to Crook where George set up his surgery at Meadow House in St Mary’s Avenue. Their first child, Douglas, was born in 1909, followed by Jean in 1911.

After the outbreak of the First World War, George was involved with the 17th Durham Voluntary Aid Detachment Hospital at Etherley, Bishop Auckland, and was Medical Officer in charge between May 1915 and May 1917. In May 1917 he was commissioned into the Royal Army Medical Corps and left Crook to serve in Salonica. In the January of 1917 one of his younger brothers, Lawrence, had been killed in France serving with the Kings Own Scottish Borderers and one is left to wonder whether this event prompted George to join the army himself.

Whilst George was serving overseas his wife, Elsie, along with their two children went to live with her parents in Plympton, Devon, and in September of 1917 their third child, Lawrence, was born. Unfortunately, Lawrence died of pneumonia in November of the same year, only three months old. To add to this tragedy his wife, Elsie, committed suicide the following March (in all probability suffering from depression) and another of his brothers, James, died as a prisoner of war in June. It is fairly certain that George was not able to return home at all during this time as the family have some postcards that he wrote to his daughter Jean after her mother had died.

Sometime in 1919 George returned to his practice in Crook along with his two children, Douglas and Jean, however he needed someone to help to look after them and enlisted the help of a family friend, Ellinor Walton, who had also worked at the Hospital at Etherley and previously as a governess. This arrangement seems to have worked very well as in 1920 George and Ellinor were married and went on to have two children of their own, Harry (born 1921) and George (born 1924).

George senior remained as a well-respected General Practitioner in Crook until his death in 1946.

Auckland Chronicle, 9 September 1920

The wedding took place at Saint Catherine’s Church, Crook, on Saturday of Dr G Y Caldwell, Crook, and Miss Ellinor Walton, eldest daughter of Mr T Walton, The Uplands, Crook. The Reverend J Ridley Barker, assisted by the Reverend R J L King, officiated. The bride was given away by her father, and attended by Miss C Tait, Etherley. Mr John Caldwell, brother of the bridegroom, acted as best man. The bride was attired in a gown of white satin charmeuse and white georgette hat with osprey, and carried a bouquet of pink gladioli. The bridesmaid’s dress was of green shot silk with a hat of gold lace. A reception was afterwards held at the home of the bride, and later in the day Dr and Mrs Caldwell left by motor for the Lake District, where part of the honeymoon is being spent.

Civil Parish: Crook and Billy Row

Armed force/civilian: Army

Gender: Male

Contributed by John Yuille Caldwell, grandson

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