Typhoid, the Destroyer of Armies, and its Abolition

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Typhoid, the Destroyer of Armies, and its Abolition was a lecture by Dr. Leigh Canney read on 12 november 1901. Arthur Conan Doyle made a speech about sanitary questions in South Africa after Canney's presentation.


  • President : Sir William Broadbent
  • Chairman : Sir William Broadbent, and replaced by COLONEL LONSDALE HALE
  • Speakers :
    • Dr. Leigh Canney, "Typhoid, the Destroyer of Armies, and its Abolition."
    • Major Firth, professor of military hygiene at Netley
    • Major-General Lord Dundonald
    • Dr. Washbourne, C.M.G.
    • Dr. Rideat
    • Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle
    • Brigade Surgeon Lieut.-Col. Myers
    • Major H. A. Cummns, R.A.M.C.
    • Captain Dance, R.E.

Conan Doyle speech

As reported in The Times

Dr. A. Conan Doyle, as one who had witnessed the horrifying results of the neglect of the most ordinary precautions among the soldiers in South Africa, without the slightest remonstrance from anybody, said he had listened with the greatest interest to the paper, because it seemed a practical and bold method of combating a fell evil. He hoped the paper and discussion would be brought to the notice of the authorities. If it was not stretching red tape too far, why should not Dr. Leigh Canney be sent straight out now to South Africa with his apparatus? (Cheers.) Let him be attached to one single column and see whether the results would turn out better than in any other column. And why should not sent out too, and let them compare the results one with the other? (Cheers.) This was not a time for academic discussion. the house was on fire and it was time they were taking some practical step to put it out. His only fear was that when they got the thirsty private soldier into such a state of discipline that he would look on water without drinking it the whole human race would have been educated past all knowing. The private soldier took a perverse delight in doing what he should not the moment the eye of his superior officer was turned away. He did not quite see how the young regimental officer, with sporting proclivities, could always be on the spot, but allowing that our soldiers could only rise to such heights, the scheme was a most admirable one.

Full Report