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Biographical entry Burston, Samuel Roy (Ginger) (1888 - 1960)


21 March 1888
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
21 August 1960
South Yarra, Victoria, Australia


Samuel Burston was a physician renowned for his service to the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps. First commissioned as Captain in 1912 he served with distinction in both world wars, his military career coming to an end in 1948 when he relinquished the post of Director General of Medical Services. In his various postings he worked to anticipate hygiene and medical problems and circumvent them. This included initiating research into the causes of diarrhoea and other diseases. Such was the respect in which he was held that his plans for addressing complex medical problems affecting the troops were accepted by General Blamey without question. In particular, Burston was at the forefront of the Army's campaign against malaria in the west Pacific area and was influential in the establishment of the Land Headquarters Medical Research Unit in Cairns. In the post-war period he was responsible for the provision of medical services to Commonwealth occupation forces in Japan and for the demobilisation of the Army Medical Services.



Education - MB BS, University of Melbourne
Career position - Resident Medical Officer, Adelaide Children's Hospital
1911 - 1912
Career position - Medical inspector of Aborigines, Northern Territory
1914 -
Career position - Honorary Assistant Physician, Adelaide Hospital
1915 - 1920
Career position - Served with the Australian Imperial Forces
Award - Distinguished Service Order (DSO)
Award - Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)
Award - Volunteer Decoration (VD)
Education - Member, Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh
1933 - 1947
Career position - Honorary Physician, (Royal) Adelaide Hospital
Education - Fellow, Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh
1938 - 1960
Career position - Founding Fellow, Royal Australasian College of Physicians
Award - Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB)
Career position - Fellow, Royal College of Physicians, London
Award - Knight of the Order of St John of Jerusalem (KStJ)
1945 - 1957
Career position - Chief Commissioner of St John Ambulance Australia
Life event - Retired as Director General of Medical Services in Australia, Royal Australian Army Medical Corps
Award - Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE)
1952 - 1957
Award - Honorary Colonel, Royal Australian Army Medical Corps

Related Corporate Bodies

Published resources


  • Howie-Willis, Ian, A Medical Emergency: Major-General 'Ginger' Burston and the Army Medical Service in World War II (Newport (N.S.W.): Big Sky Publishing, 2012), 487 pp. Details
  • Howie-Willis, Ian, An unending war: the Australian Army's struggle against malaria 1885 - 2015 (Newport (N.S.W.): Big Sky Publishing, 2016), 348 pp. Details
  • McDonald, G. L., Roll of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (Sydney: Royal Australasian College of Physicians, 1988), 332 pp. Details

Book Sections

Journal Articles

  • Howie-Willis, Ian, 'Australian malariology during World War II (part 3 of "Pioneers of Australian military malariology"', Journal of Military and Veteran's History, 25 (2) (2017), 46-68. Details
  • Johnston, William, 'Obituary: Samuel Roy Burston', Medical Journal of Australia, 1961 (1) (1961), 184-7. Details


Helen Cohn