Captain, Thomas Burdock Vaile (79) – Survived

Royal Army Medical Corps

Royal Medical Corps Cap Badge, similar to the one which would have been worn by Thomas Vaile.

Synopsis of Life and Military Service

Thomas Burdock Vaile was born in Epping, Essex on 14 December 1888. He attended Brighton college (Chichester House) between 1904 – 1906. He subsequently studied medicine at St Batholomew’s Hospital, qualifying with the Conjoint diploma in 1913 and became a resident anaesthetist at the West London Hospital.

In 1914, early in his career, Thomas’ ability as an anaesthetist was questioned following the death of John Sears who died while being prepared for surgery. A Court of Inquiry was told that the deceased was suffering from acute abdomen pains and vomiting, and the opinion of doctors was that there was an obstruction of the intestine. In the operating theatre, Thomas administered chloroform through a drop bottle and lint. There was considerable struggling and the deceased became blue once he was fully under the anaesthetic. Despite efforts to save him, John Sears died shortly thereafter. Expert testimony  stated that the deceased showed evidence of bronchitis, with an enlarged heart and the muscles were very soft and fatty, and was a bad subject for a common anaesthetic. Nonetheless the jury returned a verdict of “Death from misadventure” and expressed the opinion that Thomas performed the operation with all due care.

West London hospital © Wellcome Collection Attribution 4.0 International (cc BY 4.0)

Family tragedy struck in 1915 and 1916 when Thomas’ brothers, Edward and Philip were killed on the Western Front. Thomas was subsequently commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Royal Army Medical Corps on 18 June 1917 and was posted to Mesopotamia (arriving there on 15 July 1917).  He was promoted to Captain on 18 June 1918.

Following demobilisation Thomas became assistant anaesthetist at the Italian Hospital and was appointed as consultant to the Royal Marsden Hospital in 1920; to the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital in 1941 and to St Peter’s and St Paul’s Hospitals. While in London he took up Freemasonry  and became an officer of London Grand Rank.


Following his retirement in 1953, Thomas left London and moved to Canterbury in Kent. He spent some of his time as a locum in local hospitals and in his free time played cricket and enjoyed sailing.

He died on 3 September 1968 after a short illness. 


His family is shown as follows :-

  • Father – Philip Vaile, born c.1859 at Islington, died 1935.
  • Mother – Amy Flora Gilbert or Vaile, born c.1862 at High Wycombe, Bucks.
  • Brother – Frederick R., born, c.1900 at Marylebone, Regent’s Park.
  • Brother: Ernest Edward Vaile born  18 June 1891, died 5 October 1915
  • Brother – Philip Amyas Vaile, born 27 July 1894 at Marylebone, London, d.14 October 1916.
  • Sister – Amy Rebecca, born c.1907 at Marylebone, Regent’s Park, London.

Thomas was married and had three children (two daughters and a son).


  • The 1901 Census gives his address as 10, Ormonde Terrace, St Marylebone, London.
  • The 1911 Census gives his address as 10, Ormonde Terrace, St Marylebone, London.
  • The 1939 Register shows him working at 70 Colindale Hospital, Colindale Avenue, Hendon, Middlesex.
  • Probate Records show that his last known address was 18 Mount Road, Canterbury.


Thomas Vaile was awarded the Victory and the British War Medals for his service in the Great War.

Links to Additional Information


  •  1901 England, Wales & Scotland Census.
  •  1911 Census for England and Wales .
  •  London Gazette : 13 August 1915 Issue 29262 Page 8025.
  • Medal Index Cards: 1914-1920.
  • British Medical Journal 21 September 1968
  • West London Observer 31 July 1914



  • Trevor Torkington
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