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Marks, Alexander Hammett (1880–1954)

by Darryl McIntyre

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986

Alexander Hammett Marks (1880-1954), medical practitioner and soldier, was born on 6 August 1880 in Brisbane, son of Dr Charles Ferdinand Marks, and his wife Elizabeth Gray, formerly Dods, née Stodart. He was educated at Brisbane Grammar School and Trinity College, Dublin (M.D., 1905).

On returning to Brisbane in 1904 Marks became a general practitioner with a special interest in obstetrics and gynaecology and established his practice at Wickham Terrace. On 6 April 1907 at St Philip's Anglican Church, Sydney, he married Annie Georgina Rhodes. At various periods between 1919 and 1930 he was an honorary radiologist, junior physician and junior and subsequently senior gynaecologist at the Brisbane General Hospital; he was also a member of the honorary staff of the Lady Bowen Hospital. He had a breezy manner and impressed his junior colleagues with his practical skill.

Marks also held executive positions in local medical associations. A foundation fellow of the (Royal) Australasian College of Surgeons, he served on the council of the Queensland branch of the British Medical Association in 1909-27 (president, 1914), and was president of the Medical Defence Society of Queensland in 1931-46 and of the Australasian Trained Nurses' Association in 1923-34. Although he retired from active practice in 1945, he continued his work as a senior medical officer to the Australian Mutual Provident Society until 1950.

Marks had a distinguished military record. On 20 March 1911 he was appointed to the honorary rank of captain in the Australian Army Medical Corps and was attached as medical officer to the 2nd Brigade; before World War I he held appointments with the 1st Military District. He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 20 August 1914 and was posted as regimental medical officer to the 3rd Field Artillery Brigade. A month later he embarked for Egypt and was at Gallipoli from the landing until the evacuation. He was promoted major on 6 September 1915.

On 20 February 1916 Marks was appointed deputy assistant director of medical services of the 4th Division. The division moved to France in May and Marks served with it until December when he was promoted lieutenant-colonel commanding the 2nd Australian Field Ambulance. He was invalided to England in February 1917 and in March was appointed to form and command the 16th Australian Field Ambulance attached to the 16th Brigade in England.

In October Marks returned to France to command the 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station and served with this unit until September 1918 when he was appointed colonel and A.D.M.S. of the 1st Division. For his war service he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in 1916 and the French Croix de Guerre in 1918, and was appointed C.B.E. in 1919; he was also twice mentioned in dispatches.

Marks returned to Australia in 1919 with his wife and four children. He continued part-time service with the army as deputy director of medical services of the 1st Military District in 1921-38 and during World War II was chairman and Queensland controller of the Voluntary Aid Detachment. Renowned for a keen sense of humour, he was a popular personality with both the Brisbane medical fraternity and the A.A.M.C. His hobbies were collecting antique furniture and farming near Brisbane.

Marks died on 18 January 1954 of hypertensive heart disease at his home at Auchenflower, Brisbane, and was cremated. He was survived by his second wife, Charlotte, née Watson, whom he had married on 11 July 1945 at Toowong, and by one son and two daughters of his first marriage. His son Charles Ferdinand was decorated for service with the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps in World War II.

Select Bibliography

  • A. G. Butler (ed), Official History of the Australian Army Medical Services in the War 1914-19, vol 1 (Melb, 1930), 2 (Canb, 1940)
  • C. E. W. Bean, The A.I.F. in France, 1916 (Syd, 1929)
  • Medical Journal of Australia, 13 Mar 1954
  • A. H. Marks file (Australian War Memorial)
  • personal narrative of A. H. Marks (A. G. Butler Collection, Australian War Memorial).

Citation details

Darryl McIntyre, 'Marks, Alexander Hammett (1880–1954)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/marks-alexander-hammett-7485/text13045, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 23 November 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986

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