Sir Alfred Keogh--the years of reform 1899-1910

J R Army Med Corps. 2008 Dec;154(4):269-72.


History inevitably requires individuals to influence and change circumstances; men and women of principles, courage or power who influence events to such an extent they produce change, even to the extent of changing the course of history. Alfred Keogh was such a man. He possessed strong principles and the courage to convert a nineteenth-century attitude to the health of an army into the modern vision of Army Health we have today. Keogh was plucked from obscurity in India and plunged into a war, the outcome of which was never certain. The reputation of the Army had been tarnished by a government who had done next to nothing to prepare it for modern war or ameliorate the condition of the common soldier and the Boer War exposed the extent of that neglect to a shocked public. Ultimately the humiliation of the Army prompted radical reforms which converted a metaphorically red-coated army into a fighting force fit for the twentieth-century. During this time Keogh led the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) through a very painful rebirth. His meteoric rise from Major to Lt. General in a little less than five years was matched only by his vision of the future and the dynamic effect he had in effecting change. This essay looks at the influence Alfred Keogh had in the reform of the RAMC that occurred in Edwardian Britain.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article
  • Portrait

MeSH terms

  • Health Care Reform / history*
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Military Medicine / history*
  • Military Medicine / organization & administration
  • Military Personnel / history
  • United Kingdom
  • Warfare

Personal name as subject

  • Alfred Keogh