Dr. Cluny Macpherson was a physician and soldier, born in St. John’s, Newfoundland in 1879. Macpherson’s involvement with the St. John Ambulance Association eventually led to the creation of the St. John Ambulance Brigade in St. John’s with three divisions. Members of the Brigade enlisted in the Newfoundland Regiment in World War I, which prompted Macpherson to organize an Ambulance Unit. In September 1914 Macpherson himself enlisted at the rank of captain. He was appointed as Principal Medical Officer, 1st Newfoundland Regiment, and as such went overseas throughout 1915.
While with the Regiment, Macpherson is responsible for the first gas mask. In Gallipoli he used the helmet of a German “prisoner to fashion a canvas hood with transparent eyepieces that was treated with chlorine-absorbing chemicals”*. Macpherson was injured while in Egypt and returned to Newfoundland in 1916 to serve as Director of Medical Services for the Militia, member of the First War Office Committee on poisonous gases, and Director of Medical Services for Newfoundland during World War I.
Lt. Col. Macpherson was demobilized in September 1919 but continued to play a role in the medical profession until his death in November 1966.
To learn more about Dr. Cluny Macpherson visit the Memorial University Faculty of Medicine Founders’ Archive. Visit “collections.mun.ca/digital/collection/cluny” to see Macpherson’s notebooks or see some of Macpherson’s records at “therooms.ca/sites/default/files/macpherson_cluny_0-8.pdf”.
Visit the The Royal Newfoundland Regiment Museum to see Macpherson’s various medals and tunic in person.
*Faculty of Medicine. “Biographical Sketch”. Dr. Cluny Macpherson (1879-1966): Reflections of a Newfoundlander. https://www.med.mun.ca/getdoc/c80249bd-92e4-4c66-86c1-9ad73a2fdf05/Biographical-Sketch.aspx