Lives of the fellows

William Henry Kauntze

b.5 December 1887 d.4 November 1947
MBE(1918) CMG(1937) BA Manch(1907) MB ChB Manch(1911) MB BS Lond(1912) DPH Lond(1921) MD Manch(1921) MRCS LRCP(1913) MRCP(1937) FRCP(1945)

William Kauntze was born in Accrington, the only son of William G. Kauntze, manager of the local branch of the Union Bank of Manchester (later Barclay’s Bank), and Sarah Schofield, daughter of James Booth,of an old Lancashire family. Medicine was an after-thought in that it would prepare him for missionary work; no doubt he had been influenced by the fact that his father’s family was connected by marriage with descendants of Dr William Carey, the well-known Oriental scholar, who had been one of the earliest missionaries in India. Following resident posts at the Manchester Royal and Salford Infirmaries and a course at the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin, he went in 1913 to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where he was awarded the Duncan medal as the best student of his year. Thinking it would extend his knowledge of tropical medicine he then took the offer of an appointment in the Colonial Medical Service, and was in Onitsha, Eastern Nigeria, when war was declared in 1914, and he was seconded to the R.A.M.C, in the rank of major. Until 1916 he served in the Cameroons Campaign. After a short period at the Liverpool General Hospital he went to East Africa to command the base hospital at Dar-es-Salaam.

From 1919 to 1932 he was senior bacteriologist and deputy director of laboratory services in Nairobi, and for the next ten years director of medical services in Uganda. There he organised a closely linked service of hospitals and dispensaries and took a prominent part in the development of the Medical School at Makerere. In 1941 he was recalled to London to the post of assistant medical adviser to the Colonial Secretary and in 1944 became chief adviser. To gain first-hand knowledge of the various medical services under the control of the Secretary of State he travelled widely in Africa, the West Indies and the Far East, to the detriment of his health. By Easter 1947 he knew his illness was fatal. Unassuming, with the highest ideals, and with no use for second bests, he had never spared himself. Every colleague and junior had the highest regard for him and his work, which was recognised in the award of the C.M.G, in 1937. He was appointed Knight of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem in 1943.

Kauntze was a prominent Freemason, a keen golfer and a skilled photographer. In 1919 he married Edith Davidson, daughter of Mr J. Johnston, of Aberdeen. They had one daughter.

Richard R Trail

[Brit.med.J., 1947, 2, 797-8; E. Afr. med. J., 1947, 24, 425; Lancet, 1947, 2, 741 (p); Times, 12 Nov. 1947.]

(Volume V, page 222)

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