Hume, Edgar Erskine [MGen DirGenMedServKorea]

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 Major General Edgar Erskine Hume

Edgar Erskine Hume FRSE LLD (18891952) was an American Major General of Scots descent remembered as a highly senior army surgeon and as an amateur ornithologist. In 1948 he was the recipient of the Gorgas Medal.


He was born at the Capital Hotel in Frankfort, Kentucky on 26 December 1889 the son of Dr Enoch Edgar Hume and his wife, Mary Ellen South. He was educated at Frankfort High School.

He studied Medicine at Centre College in Kentucky, graduating BA in 1908 and MA in 1909. He then attended Johns Hopkins University where he gained his doctorate (MD) in 1913. He then did further postgraduate studies at the University of Munich in Germany (1914) and University of Rome in Italy (1915). Training further in the Army Medical School he graduated first in his class in 1917 and received a commission as a First Lieutenant.

In the First World War he served in base hospitals in Italy 1918-1919 (having some command of the Italian language). He was then appointed American Red Cross Commissioner for Serbia and from there became Director of the anti-typhus in the Balkan States until August 1920 when he returned to the United States.

Between the wars he served as a Librarian in the Army Medical Library in Washington DC. During this period he grew to fame as an amateur ornithologist and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1933. His proposers were Dr William Joseph Maloney, Joseph Wedderburn and fellow-Americans Robert Foster Kennedy and Richard Lightburn Sutton. Curiously he was an Ordinary Fellow rather than Honorary, which required his physical presence in Edinburgh for his induction.

In the Second World War he was assigned to General Eisenhower's North African staff for the invasion of Sicily. Following the invasion he was Chief of Public Health for Sicily from July 1943. In August 1943 he was promoted to Chief of the Allied Military Government for the 5th Army. Following Germany's surrender he became Chief of the Military Government for the whole US zone of Austria. He returned to Washington in June 1947.

In June 1949 he was appointed Chief Surgeon of the Far East command under General MacArthur, and in July 1950 became Director General of Medical Services in Korea.

He died at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center on 24 January 1952, having retired three weeks earlier on New Year's Eve 1951/52. He is buried in Arlington Cemetery.

Military honors and decorations