Adeline H Campbell (Adeline Herbert Campbell)

Physician and Surgeon

This was the group which included Adeline Campbell, so she may be one of these women.

  • BORN 11th June 1887, Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland
  • DIED 5th February 1965, London, UK
  • WORKED Serbia; France; London, UK; Hull, Yorkshire, England; Edinburgh, Scotland
  • HONOURS Medal of the Order of St Sava, Serbia; Serbian War Medical Service Medal; British War Medal and Victory Medal

Serbian Order of St Sava, Fifth Class (Image by Europeana 1914-1918, creative commons)

WW1 Victory Medal (Image Source)

Artistic Connections

No record of arts or music in her life, as her life story is barely documented




Graduated from St Andrews University in arts and medicine – MA in 1909; MBChB in 1912


Clinical Assistant
Evelina Hospital for Children.  Situated in south London, the hospital was opened initially as a children’s hospital for the poor

Resident Medical Officer
Walthamstow Isolation Hospital. Intended as a hospital for patients suffering from infectious diseases, this hospital also served as a treatment centre during the Second World War for wounded soldiers

Junior Surgeon in Serbia in WW1 from December 1914 till June 1915
Adeline Campbell was one of the team of 30 women, 5 of them doctors, who were in the first unit to go to Serbia with the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service (SWH), set up under the aegis of the Scottish Federation of Women Suffrage Societies.

Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service (Image Source)

House Physician and Surgeon
Adeline Campbell worked at both the Victoria Hospital for Children, Chelsea, London, and the Victoria Hospital for Sick Children, Hull, Yorkshire

Medical Officer in France in WW1
As a volunteer with the Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps, she worked with the French Red Cross at a hospital in Le Havre, France

Physician and obstetrician, specialising in the health of women and children
The rest of Adeline Campbell’s career was spent in Edinburgh, Scotland, working at the Edinburgh Hospital and Dispensary for Women and Children and (Maternity) Hospice. This later became the Bruntsfield Hospital.

Former Bruntsfield Hospital, Whitehouse Loan, Edinburgh. This was previously: The Edinburgh Hospital and Dispensary for Women and Children Credit: kim traynor (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Scientific Achievements

As a 27 year old junior doctor, Adeline Campbell showed great courage in being an early volunteer for work with the Scottish Women’s Hospitals. Her contract was for 6 months, unpaid, in a hospital in Kragujevac, Serbia. She and her fellow team members had beds and equipment for 100, but often had as many as 500 patients, since more arrived every day. It must have been very stressful for a limited number of staff to cope in these circumstances. Typhus was an additional risk, especially when the disease reached epidemic proportions in early 1915. Help was sought from Britain, and specialists from the Royal Army Medical Corps were largely responsible for controlling the epidemic.

The Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps during the First World War, France Q5952.jpg Credit: Created and released by the Imperial War Museum on the IWM Non Commercial Licence

In May 1915, Adeline Campbell and her colleague, Dr Katherine S Macphail, believed that the hospitals in Kragujevac could do without them, while elsewhere in Serbia there was an acute need for medical staff. They received permission to leave Kragujevac to finish their contract in Belgrade, where they set up a hospital for typhus patients. Elsie Inglis interviewed them shortly afterwards, and although she expressed a preference that they come back to help at newly established SWH facilities, conceded that they were doing a worthwhile job.  Katherine Macphail became seriously ill with typhus, but fortunately recovered after a few months.  Adeline Campbell returned to the UK as planned in June 1915. However their joint decision to leave their posts with the SWH did not go down well with Headquarters in Edinburgh, and they were both forbidden from working with SWH again.

This was the unit in which Adeline Campbell and Katherine Macphail worked, and they may both be in this photograph. (Image Source) (Wikipedia Public Domain)

In January 1918, Adeline Campbell again volunteered to join the war effort – this time as a Medical Officer in France with the Queen Mary’s Auxiliary Army Corps.

It seems that all her life, Adeline Campbell was someone who would take matters into her own hands, and do what she felt was right rather than follow the established path. Examples from later include her public talks, likely to be controversial at the time, about good health being dependent on decent housing conditions.

Throughout her career, Adeline Campbell demonstrated an active concern for the health and welfare of mothers and children. As well as supporting unmarried mothers, she acted as Honorary Physician at a home in Edinburgh for the “motherless children of respectable working men who cannot otherwise provide for their upbringing”.

Did You Know?

Adeline Campbell was one of 9 children, 8 daughters and one son, of Rev. John Campbell, minister at Kirkcaldy Parish Church between 1881-1927.  All 9 graduated from St Andrews University.  5 of the daughters became doctors; 2 graduated with arts degrees; and one gained a PhD in Chemistry and became a Reader in Chemistry at the University of Southampton.  Their brother became an engineer.  Their names were: Phyllis Carruthers Campbell (married name MacArthur) (1880 -1971); Duncan McGregor Campbell (1882-1976); Jessie MacNaughton Campbell (married name Maxwell) (1883-1965); Lizzie Mabel Renwick Campbell (1885-1939); Margaret McGillewie Campbell (1889-1986); Anne Renwick Campbell (1893-1972); Katharine McGregor Campbell (1898-1981); and Ishbel Grace MacNaughton Campbell (1906-1997)

An Inspiring Woman

As an early volunteer with the Scottish Women’s Hospitals, Adeline Campbell set an example which must have inspired other women to follow, whether as medically qualified doctors or nurses, or carrying out other necessary associated tasks in the units

Unmarried mothers were stigmatised in the first half of the 20th century, and Adeline Campbell showed her sympathy and concern for their health and welfare by acting as Honorary Visiting Physician in a home for such mothers in Edinburgh

Adeline Campbell maintained her interest in the Balkans throughout her life, and was the chief administrator of a fund to raise money for Yugoslav Forces working with the Allies in the Second World War

Today she could inspire women or children to stand up for what they believe to be right –