Geoffrey Douglas Hale Carpenter – Uganda Medical Service

Geoffrey Douglas Hale Carpenter, MBE
Captain, Uganda Medical Services

Geoffrey Douglas Hale Carpenter was born on 26 October 1882 in Eton, Berkshire and died on 30 January 1953 in Oxford.

In 1910 Geoffrey had gone to Uganda at the request of the Royal Society to investigate Tse-tse fly (Glossina palpalis). He was working on this when war broke out in 1914 and was asked to serve with the troops on the Uganda-German front. He eventually joined the Belgian Northern force under Colonel Molitor which invade into German East Africa through Kigezi and Ruanda to Tabora, after which he saw service in German and Portuguese East Africa for the remainder of the war. He returned to Uganda in November 1919 and resumed his investigations.

In 1916 and 1917 he had a tame monkey, a Cercopithecus which he would allow out to hunt, noting it ‘devour Mantidae with the utmost avidity.’ (p203)

He is mentioned in the Pike Report into medical conditions during the campaign in East Africa being noted as being posted to Lulanguru in September 1917 to investigate sleeping sickness there. His previous post at Itigi had been well run.

In his book, A naturalist Geoffrey refers to another East African campaign doctor. Dr Wilfred A Lamborn was working on similar themes such as breeding grounds of Glossina palpalis in Nyasaland during the war unbeknown to Geoffrey. He had previously conducted some experiments in West Africa.

During his time in East Africa, Geoffrey corresponded with the Old Dragons (old boys of Oxford Preparatory School).
11 January 1915 – Battle of Tanga, German base near river Kagera
31 December 1915 – Christmas and photo
25 January 1918 – War memorial
13 May 1918 – on leave Victoria Falls Hotel, Southern Rhodesia, plague in Singida, GEA
Some other war time experiences are captured in an obituary.

From the various sources, we ascertain his movements as follows:
4 August 1914 – Kimmi Island looking at duck eggs
December 1914 – appointed Medical Officer of fort at Kakindu, southern Uganda
1916 – Lake Bunyonyi in Kigezi District, south-west Uganda
1917 – Dodoma, GEA
1918 – Singidda Lake, GEA
13 May 1918 – Lake Victoria, Southern Rhodesia
December 1918 – Kimmi Island

The London Gazette of 18 November 1918 recorded his appointment ‘To be [a Member] of the said Most Excellent Order.’

After the war he served, from 1920 to 1930, in the Colonial Medical Service in Uganda as Specialist Officer for Control of Sleeping Sickness. In 1933, he was appointed Hope Professor at Oxford University and retired in 1948.

GDH Carpenter, A naturalist on Lake Victoria with an account of sleeping sickness and the tse-tse fly (1920)
GDH Carpenter, A naturalist in East Africa (1925)
The Lepidopterists’ Nest (1954)
Encyclopedia of Entomology
London School of Tropical Medicine
Skipper’s War
Pitt River Museum Collection

Author: Anne Samson
Date: 17 August 2018

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