Surgeon Alfred Nicolle de Gruchy

Royal Navy

Died: 25th December 1915
Age: 47

Alfred Nicolle de Gruchy, born 31st July, 1866, was the son of Joshua de Gruchy, of Jersey. He entered [Victoria] College in 1881, leaving in the following year in order to take a Bank appointment. From this he went for a time to an Insurance Office in Birmingham, but although he remained there for some years he was all the time studying chemistry, and eventually became a medical student at Edinburgh. In due course he obtained his MB and ChB and subsequently held various Government appointments, notably that of Medical Officer at the Seychelles, where his knowledge of French was of much value. It was from here that he wrote on one occasion that he had just been dining with Braithwaite in Madagascar. Later he somewhat unwisely accepted a similar appointment at Lagos, with the result that his health was permanently impaired, and he then abandoned the government service and took a post as ship’s doctor.

He was serving in this capacity on the [SS] Intaba at the outbreak of war. His ship was taken over by Government as a troopship and he became naval doctor in her. He was at sea continuously till Christmas Day 1915, when he was found dead in his bunk, of heart failure. Former illnesses – black-water fever, dysentery, malaria, as well as chronic rheumatism, had all left their mark on him and aged him prematurely. This from his ship: “He bore his physical infirmities with that air of stoic, philosophic calm that characterized his cheerful outlook on life in general, taking the good and the bad, like the happy Bohemian he was at heart. His fund of anecdote and his wide knowledge of literature gave him a place amongst our circle that was his only, and with him we lost an entertaining and instructive friend.”

The above text appeared in the Victoria College Book of Remembrance published in 1920.

Interesting link to websites with information about the SS Intaba on which Surgeon de Gruchy served. After serving as a stores and supply ship, SS Intaba became a Q ship (Q2), a heavily armed merchant ship used a decoy to lure U boats to the surface before being attacked.