Captain Alexander Lipmann-Kessel

The two surgical teams of 16 Parachute Field Ambulance, 1944

Captain Alexander Lipmann-Kessel

The resting place of Alexander Lipmann-Kessel

Captain Alexander Lipmann-Kessel


Unit : 16 Parachute Field Ambulance

Army No. : 227647

Awards : Member of the British Empire, Military Cross


Captain Lipmann-Kessel was a South African surgeon, awarded the Military Cross for his work at Arnhem:


Captain Lipmann-Kessel commanded one of the surgical teams of 16 Parachute Field Ambulance which established a Dressing Station in the Elizabeth Hospital, ARNHEM, after the capture of the main bridge. The hospital was subsequently recaptured and came under German control. Captain Lipmann-Kessel must have saved many lives by his skill as a surgeon working under most difficult conditions. On several occasions the hospital came under both German and British fire. The windows of the operating theatre were blown in and, apart from these difficulties, the Germans often interferred and attempted to remove the personnel from the surgical teams. Later when most of the wounded had been evacuated, Captain Lipmann-Kessel was left behind with 30 seriously wounded cases. He continued to perform his duties as a surgeon with the greatest skill and, at the same time, forestalled the Germans in any attempt they made to interfere with the working of the hospital. Finally, Captain Lipmann-Kessel showed great initiative in escaping from captivity. This officer has a great reputation for his gallantry, skill and devotion to duty while carrying out his work under the most difficult and dangerous conditions on many occasions. I {Brigadier Lathbury} recommend him most strongly for the immediate award of the Military Cross.


Lipmann-Kessel escaped from German hands on the 16th October. Amongst the many people on whom he operated at Arnhem, was Brigadier Hackett, and he is credited with saving his life. He was later made a Member of the British Empire:


Captain Lipmann-Kessel was taken prisoner when the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Arnhem, was occupied by the Germans on 18th September 1944. Following the evacuation of the lightly wounded, Captain Lipmann-Kessel was one of a small rear detachment who, whilst they were unguarded, were not asked to give their parole. In addition to his medical duties, Captain Lipmann-Kessel found time to organise a "transit camp" for evaders in the area. It was due to his efforts that a wireless and a quantity of Machine Guns and detonators stored in the hospital reached members of the Underground. On 13th October 1944 the remainder of the patients and staff were removed to Apeldoorn. As the majority of the wounded had already been sent to Germany, Captain Lipmann-Kessel received permission to escape, and two nights later he left the building unchallenged, with 3 other members of the R.A.M.C. After marching North for two nights the 4 escapers came into the hands of friends, and were hidden for a month until an evacuation of a large number of Allied personnel had been arranged. Captain Lipmann-Kessel acted as interpreter to the expedition, which unfortunately was not entirely successful. When he and two officers found themselves alone after an encounter with Germans, they returned to the Otterloo - Barneveld area.


Captain Lipmann-Kessel made two more efforts to reach safety before he finally met a British Unit near Lage-Zwaluwe on 10th February 1945 after a very hazardous journey.


This officer's work in keeping lightly wounded personnel on the "danger" list, in order to give them a chance of escaping, has been warmly praised by Brigadier Hackett.


During the 1950's, Lipmann-Kessel wrote a book of his experiences, "Surgeon at Arms", under the pseudonym of Daniel Paul. This was reprinted in the 1970's under his real name. He died in 1986 and, at his request, was buried near Arnhem to be near his airborne friends.


See also: The Reverend McGowan.


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