User:Vernon39/Martin Herford

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Martin Edward Meakin Herford (1909 - 2002) was a military doctor, pioneer in the occupational health of young workers and a Quaker [1].

Early life[edit]


He was the second son of Oscar and Ethilda Herford.

His father was a businessman based in Calcutta, India. He came from a German family named Haarbleicher, originally Jewish. When anti-German feeling became extreme, the family changed its name to Herford.

His mother was born 6 December 1872. She was the daughter of Edward Meakin and Sarah Ann Budgett. They married in 1907. Her Who was Who entry gives her profession as "Hon. Physician, British Hospital for the Treatment of Mental Disorders; Hon. Physician, London Clinic of Psychoanalysis; Psychological research, Maudsley Hospital; Psycho-therapist (consultant)." She died 26 August 1956.


Martin's older brother was George and his younger, Harold. His sister was Sylvia.


MB (1937, Bristol), MD, DPH

Military career[edit]

Source: Unit Histories website (cited below)

  • ?1937 Volunteered to go with the Friends Service Organisation (Quakers) to work primarily with children suffering from starvation as a result of the Spanish Civil War.
  • 03.1940-01.1941 with the British Contingent of the International Volunteer Force in Finland
  • 22.01.1941 commissioned, Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) [emergency commission]
  • 22.01.1941-27.02.1941 General Hospital (Helmieh, Egypt)
  • 27.02.1941-05?.1941 Casualty Clearing Station RAMC (Greece) (liaison and evacuating British troops)
  • 05?.1941-22.01.1942 Second-in Command, 7 Motor Ambulance Convoy RAMC (Western Desert, North Africa)
  • 22.01.1942-04.1943 Commanding Officer, 16 Motor Ambulance Convoy RAMC (Western Desert, North Africa [wounded 23.07.1942, hospitalized & posted to 15 (Scottish) General Hospital 09-11.1942])
  • 04.1943-05?.1944 200 Field Ambulance RAMC [attached 231st Infantry Brigade] (Sicily, Italy)
  • 05?.1944-08.1945 Commanding Officer, 163 Field Ambulance RAMC [crossed the river] (Arnhem [Prisoner of War, escaped])
  • 17.08.1945-01.1946 Assistant Director of Medical Services, 5th Infantry Division (Braunschweig)
  • 1950?-15.07.1953 Territorial Army
  • 15.07.1953-? Territorial Army Reserve of Officers

Military rank[edit]

Source: Unit Histories website (cited below)

  • Lt. 22.01.1941 [175256]
  • WS/Capt. 22.01.1942
  • A/Maj. 22.01.1942
  • T/Maj. ?
  • WS/Maj. 22.08.1944
  • T/Lt.Col. 22.08.1944 (retd 01.1946)
  • A/Col. 31.08.1945
  • Col. TA 24.02.1950, seniority 01.05.1947


Source: Unit Histories website (cited below)

  • DSO 29.03.1946 Arnhem
  • MBE 30.12.1941 Greece [2]
  • MC 18.11.1943 Sicily
  • MC 13.01.1944 Italy


Studied occupational medicine (Rockefeller fellowship, US) and was an appointed factory doctor (Slough).

In 1956, he received the William Hyde award, given for research on correlations between medicine and physical education [3]. During this period, he was quoted in The Times: "Many of our children leave school verbally, physically and emotionally semi-literate. They face work which is often deadly monotonous." School-leavers, he claimed, should have access to services comparable with those provided for the children remaining in full-time education. [4]

He ended his working life in general practice (together with his wife).

Extract from Testimony: Martin had no wish to stay in the Army in peacetime. He obtained a Rockefeller Fellowship to study Occupational Hygiene at Harvard. after which he became Appointed Factory Doctor for Slough and Eton. where industrial estates were developing and large numbers of people were moving out from London. The job involved interviewing all the young people leaving school who were going into industry. For them there had been no health backup and no careers advice to help them choose work to suit their intelligence and talents. Martin aimed to see each one of them every year for a check-up. and also look out for health and safety issues, which might put them at risk. He published a book in 1957. 'Youth at Work'. which was his MD thesis. He found his job satisfying and fought hard for the young people who came under his aegis, often against vested interests of long standing. He was never a man to fit comfortably into an organisation, or to compromise with injustice for a quiet life.

His interest in young people was also expressed as a school governor and in founding and running the Britwell Boys' Club, of which he remained president for twenty years. He made himself available for advice and support and changed many young lives for the better. Martin also played a leading part in the fight to prevent a major road being built through Burnham Beeches, an irreplaceable national heritage.

Martin was married to Mary for over 40 years, and they had four daughters. The family attended Quaker meeting at Reading and later at Jordans. Martin would describe himself as agnostic, but was a deeply spiritual man who felt completely in tune with Friends' way of worship. However, he did find organisations difficult. and in view of this it is perhaps not surprising that he left it till retirement age to apply for membership of the Religious Society of Friends! His Monthly Meeting then refused his application, apparently on the grounds that he had been in the Army and that his pacifism did not extend to unilateral disarmament. This hurt him deeply, the more so as he had been involved with Quakers for so long that he had no other spiritual home.

Mary died in 1985. In 1987 Martin moved to Gillan, in Cornwall. By his neighbours and friends there he is remembered as a very compassionate, generous man, whose determination to get things done made him a leader among them. He could see the funny side of things, even when they were difficult. He loved the animals and birds of Carne creek and knew and respected their ways. He always looked forward to each new day and loved to see the sunrise.

For three years he had no contact with Quakers: then his daughter Claire, who knew he needed a spiritual home, took him to Come to Good Meeting and he started to attend there regularly. Friends at Come to Good knew that this modest man had been refused membership, and that it was a matter of deep regret to him, but he would never talk about it. They thought of his life of service, his commitment to peace, and his seventy-year association with Friends, and wanted him to join. In 1992 the Meeting asked Martin if he were still willing to become a member, and applied to Cornwall Monthly Meeting, which accepted him without formality. This seems to have been a healing experience, not only for Martin but for his family as well.

At Come to Good we only knew Martin at the end of his life. We were all moved by his modesty and quiet courtesy, and those who got to know him well found that his thought was profound and his interest in other people never diminished. When his memory started to fail he retained his charm and humour and his carers loved him. His final years were spent in Somerset near his daughter.

Friends are called to live in that life and power that takes away the occasion of all wars. Martin's life, in wartime and peacetime, was filled with the grace of God.

Personal life[edit]

Married (15.12.1943)[5] Mary Crago [6] (She died 1985); four daughters (Unit History). An unnamed daughter was announced in the Birth's column of The Times 26 December 1946 [7]. Their daughter, Katherine Elizabeth was born 31 March 1948 in Boston, Mass. [8]


  • Youth at work (1957);
  • Adolescence : the years of indiscretion (with T.A.A. Hunter; 1961)
  • "The Adolescent in the Factory: with special reference to the provision and role..." Perspectives in Public Health. 1957; 77: 414-419 Cited on Sage website (subscription)

To the Editor of The Times[edit]

  • Wednesday, Sep 14, 1949; pg. 2; Issue 51486; col G: The General Practitioner.
  • Thursday, May 13, 1954; pg. 7; Issue 52930; col E: National Service.
  • Wednesday, Nov 28, 1956; pg. 9; Issue 53700; col E: What the UN must do [At the time of the Suez crisis].
  • Wednesday, Dec 19, 1956; pg. 9; Issue 53718; col E: Retreat From Skill: Effect Of Military Service [Apprentices and conscription].
  • Thursday, Jun 02, 1960; pg. 15; Issue 54787; col E: Pavlov Postscript [Joke].
  • Tuesday, Sep 26, 1961; pg. 11; Issue 55196; col D: A Nation In Danger [Moral danger to teenagers from targetted advertising].
  • Tuesday, Nov 13, 1962; pg. 13; Issue 55547; col F: School-Leaving Age [Misgivings at proposals to raise the leaving age].
  • Wednesday, Oct 09, 1963; pg. 18; Issue 55827; col C: A Factual Basis [Responsibility in education].
  • Friday, Sep 23, 1966; pg. 13; Issue 56744; col D: Accidents At Work [affecting school-leavers].
  • Tuesday, Jan 09, 1968; pg. 7; Issue 57144; col C: Price to be paid [Raising of the school leaving age must include good facilities for students in lower forms].
  • Friday, May 03, 1968; pg. 11; Issue 57242; col G: Schools failure[ Effect of immigration on schools and the need to spend where the need is greatest].
  • Wednesday, Jul 24, 1968; pg. 9; Issue 57311; col E: Treated as persons [Teenagers].
  • Thursday, Nov 30, 1972; pg. 17; Issue 58645; col F: Cost of protesting [Road developemnt in Farnham, Buckinghamshire].

Report in The Times of a paper presented to a joint meeting of the Royal Society of Helth and the College of General Practitioners (Monday, Jun 15, 1964; pg. 8; Issue 56038; col B: Girl Who Worked Too Hard:Group's Output Upset.)


Printed Sources[edit]

  • Hall, Matthew A doctor at war: The story of Colonel Martin Herford: the most decorated doctor of World War Two, Malvern, Images Publishing (Malvern) Ltd., 1995 ISBN 1-897817-54-1. Re-issued 2010 as a Kindle edition [9]
  • Testimonies to the grace of God as shown in the lives of Friends who have died, by Cornwall Monthly Meeting, received by Britain Yearly Meeting 2005, page 79-81. (Part of Documents in Advance of Yearly Meeting 2005)

Electronic sources[edit]


  1. ^ Hall, Matthew A doctor at war.
  2. ^ The Times, Wednesday, Dec 31, 1941; pg. 9; Issue 49121; col E: Middle East Awards February-July Campaigning, Africa, Greece, Crete, And Syria Category: Official Appointments and Notices - lists Lt. MEM Herford as MBE
  3. ^ The Times, Monday, Jan 30, 1956; pg. 3; Issue 53441; col D: News in Brief
  4. ^ The Times, Jan 24, 1969; pg. 2; Issue 57467; col D: "Children without any breakfast" by John Roper.
  5. ^ The Times, Thursday, Dec 16, 1943; pg. 1; Issue 49730; col A: Marriages
  6. ^ She qualified in 1939 at Bristol. The Times, Friday, Oct 27, 1939; pg. 6; Issue 48447; col E: RCoP Licenses to practice.
  7. ^ The Times, Tuesday, Dec 31, 1946; pg. 1; Issue 50646; col A: Births
  8. ^ The Times, Wednesday, Apr 14, 1948; pg. 1; Issue 51045; col A: Births. This birth announcement also gives the mother's maiden name as "Crago".
  9. ^ M R Hall blog

{{Persondata |NAME=Martin Herford |ALTERNATIVE NAMES=MEM Herford |SHORT DESCRIPTION=Doctor |DATE OF BIRTH=13 August 1909 |PLACE OF BIRTH=Geneva, Switzerland |DATE OF DEATH=13 July 2002 |PLACE OF DEATH=Weston super Mare, UK }} {{DEFAULTSORT}} [[Category:1909 births]] [[Category:2002 deaths]] [[Category:Quakers] {{Quaker-stub}} {{Bio-stub}}