• The sturdee family (medical practioners)

Born in England in 1863, Alfred Hobart Sturdee came to Australia in 1886 and following his return from the South African War settled in Northcote, Vic. establishing a medical practice at "Stoneycroft", on the corner of High and Merri (now James) Streets around 1903. Undoubtedly the best known of the local doctors, Sturdee had extensive medical experience with the Citizen's Forces before he served as a surgeon in the Boer War as part of the 4th Victorian Imperial Bushmen Regiment, being awarded both the Queen's South Africa Medal with 3 clasps and the King's South Africa Medal (two clasps). He was Mentioned In Despatches for riding half a mile under fire to aid a wounded soldier (gazetted in London, 9 July, 1901). Sturdee was listed as a surgeon from Bendigo when he volunteered and he returned with the contingent, arriving back in Melbourne on 12 July, 1902. He continued his connection with the civilian forces after his arrival in Northcote, and when he enlisted in the A.I.F. on 14 August, 1915 at 51 years of age, he held the rank of honorary Lieutenant Colonel in the Reserve Forces and it was noted he had 26 years military experience. Sturdee was placed in charge of the ambulance corps in connection with the new force. His practice in Northcote was temporarily taken over by his locum tenens, Dr. Godfrey, and from December, 1915 by the Canadian-born Dr. James Webb. He embarked on HMAT Wiltshire with the first contingent of Australian troops as a surgeon with the 2nd Field Ambulance of the 16th Australian Army Medical Corps and served during the Dardanelles campaign, initially on board the hospital ships Mashobra and Seang Choon, then from 30 May, 1915 on Gallipoli before being repatriated to England in August suffering from influenza. He later returned to Egypt before being transferred to France in March, 1916 where he was Mentioned in Despatches on another two occasions and was also awarded the Companion of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George. Sturdee returned to Australia in April, 1917 and later continued his long connection to the military by becoming the principal medical office for the newly formed Repatriation Department in Victoria before retiring from the military in 1930. He later moved to Gladstone Street, Sandringham where he died on 19 June, 1939 at 76 years of age an following a long illness. He left a widow, a son, Vernon (below) and a daughter (Mrs. Weston). He was buried in Cheltenham Cemetery. Alfred Sturdee was a brother of Vice-Admiral Sir Frederick Doveton Sturdee, the first baronet who was in charge of a British squadron which achieved a decisive naval victory in the South Atlantic in December, 1914. He was appointed Admiral of the Fleet in 1921. Alfred's son Vernon (1890 - 1966) embarked two days later after his father as the Lieutenant Adjutant with the Divisional Engineers Headquarters. He served with great distinction at Gallipoli and in France and in November 1917, was appointed commander, Royal Australian Engineers, 5th Division. In a rare honour for an officer from the dominions, he was seconded in March, 1918 to British General Headquarters, France. He remained in the A.I.F. after the war, becoming an instructor at Royal Military College, Canberra and in February, 1933 being appointed director of military operations and intelligence at Army Headquarters, Melbourne and from 1940 as a Lieutenant-General, serving as Chief of General Staff for the Australian Army. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order during the War and later made a Companion of the British Empire. In a rather sad twist, the-then Colonel Vernon Sturdee was invested with the C.B.E. just four days before his father died.