last update 22 May 2015




Jimmy Sproule, Clare Sproule,

Peggy & Brian after WWI


Back to ancestors of Adrian Fletcher and Angela Williams


Days in Cairo


Jimmy and Clare Sproule in Somerton and elsewhere



James Chambers Sproule was born on Sunday August 28 1887 in a large house named "Denamona" - in Fintona, Co Tyrone, Northern Ireland.  His secondary education was at the Royal School Raphoe, one of five Royal Schools set up in Northern Ireland by King James I in 1608. 


He trained in Dublin, and qualified as a licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland and of the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland in 1912.  He was admitted to the British Medical Register on April 24 1912.


On the 26 July 1912 he was appointed a probationary lieutenant in the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC).






The 1914-18 World War I Years


War was declared on 4 August 1914







 Regimental Crests carved into the rock at Cherat, a hill station about 34 miles SE of Peshawar, to where the Brits in Peshawar retired in the hot summer months - photo taken by Jimmy Sproule in 1920.




1920 - my grandfather at the British Army Sam Browne fort at Ali Masjid, the gatewqay to the Khyber Pass.




Motor Ambulances at Sam Browne Fort 1920




The main concern is building the new “swimming pool” to keep the men sane, cool and clean!  The 60’ x 32’ pool was fed by 3 mountain springs pumping in 1,000 gallons of water an hour.  For good measure it was also stocked with fish!




Clare, little Peggy and husband Jimmy en route for Peshawar - Christmas Day 1920






A year later, they spend Christmas in Lahore

Jimmy, Clare, Peggy (4) and Major Jimmy's Clerks - Christmas in Lahore 1921







After Lahore, a spell in Jutogh





Peggy travelling in style in Jutogh



Looks like the Sproules were in Jutogh until they moved to Aden in early in 1924 when Clare was pregnant.  No record of the Aden posting , where Brian James was born on 5 June 1924. 



Then it was back to England for a home posting from November 1924 to December 1927.  For some of this time Jimmy studied at Queens College, Belfast, for a Diploma in Public Health.  In 19826-1927 Jimmy was Assistant Director of Health, Aldershot (SW of London, in Hampshire), which was the biggest British Army base, and housed the HQ of the RAMC.



Dec 1927 - The Sproules return to India - Jimmy at the British Military Hospital Fy(/ai)zabad (go E from Agra past Lucknow).  This second stint in India has none of the cascade of new country excitement or photos that accompanied their 1920 discovery of Bengal.  After 2 years they were moved to Bombay, where Jimmy (now a major) became DADH (Deputy Assistant Director Health) - he has quite a few DAXXXX jobs over the years - a safe pair of hands we think!


April 1930 – Clare tires of Bombay, and departs on MV Domala ("a tin tub she says") for a 6 month England trip with Brian (Bunny) to escape summer heat (/ Bombay!) and see Peggy (unhappily at boarding school) - and the camera comes back to life!




The "Tin Tub" MV Domala




1930 - Clare, Peggy & Brian take off in a car belonging to one of her sisters, and head for Stoke Fleming in Devon.



Jimmy (early 1930) recorded that “Clare had decided to go home to see Peggy during the hot season and I cannot say I felt bucked at the prospect of being left in India for six months by myself” So he got himself some leave and travelled down to South Africa (East Transvaal) to see his older brother Harpur. No pics from Jimmy in South Africa, but we do have a small bit of diary which only lasted until the social life kicked in in Nelspruit !



Clare and Brian return to India on the MV Dumana on 7 October from Southampton to Bombay.  A short time later the Sproules get an invitation from a Mr Walton to join him for a Christmas 1930 big game hunt at Kila Camp - pretty much the highlight of their Indian experience one feels .....






Lawrence shot a tiger, and Clare photographed the dead beast, but in today's world it made us feel sad and we left these pics out.






April 1931 - Clare & Brian head off in the P & O liner Moldavia for another English six-monther.  This time Jimmy comes over to join them for September / October 1931.



Stop-offs on the way over included Malta and Marseilles



This time Clare's sister Mangy seems to be the car owner.






Clare & Brian left London on 2 October 1931, on board a much more comfortable looking P & O ship on its way to Brisbane via Bombay.  Jimmy was definitely in England for September but seems to have avoided cameras and ship passenger lists.



1932 must have been a pretty subdued year for the Sproule family in Bombay - no trips to England, no photos.


Then, the Indian experience is done





Some of Jimmy's "End of posting" April 1933 leave is spent in Fintona, Co Tyrone, though his large childhood home of Denamona seems to be unavailable, as the Sproules have to live in a caravan in a nearby orchard.







Back to work in Aldershot, living in Wayside Cottage, Fleet







15 August 1934 - Clare snaps the touring Australian cricket team taking on the Army at Aldershot where Jimmy was stationed. 

In the Australian team were: Ponsford, Darling, Bromley, Bradman, O'Reilly, Ebeling, Barnett, Oldfield, Brown, Kippax, & Fleetwood-Smith

they won early and agreed to bat on for a bit to entertain the army crowd.

McCabe, Woodfull (Capt), Chipperfield, & Grimmett were being rested in preparation for the "timeless" Test Match starting on the 18 August.

In the Test Match, Australia batted first and scored 701 runs (Ponsford 266 and Bradman 244).  They went on to win by 562 runs.



With the next posting (to Cairo) coming up in November 1935, family Sproule head for Ireland from Liverpool on Thursday 1 August 1935



for a family gathering at Faugher House, Ballymore, Co Donegal.  There are several group photos, but not a clue as to who they are, so we'll move on  .....








Photos of Sproules and Fletchers in Egypt - 1935-1944




WW II declared - 3 September 1939


My grandfather liked artefacts, preferably signed - this time the menu for the first lunch after the declaration of WW II on 3 September 1939. 

He was just out of Gibraltar on his way back to Egypt on the RMS Atlantis. 











More from Somerton in Paradoxplace



Brig J.C.Sproule's Army Service Record


CBE citation 1941 - Col J.C.Sproule





Obituary for Brig J C Sproule CBE,

British Medical Journal, September 24 1955, p794.




J C Sproule Entry in "Commissioned officers in the medical services of the British Army, 1660-1960" - Peterkin, Alfred.