b. 24/10/1922 Hankow, China. d. 24/03/2015 Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 26/27/07/1947 Antarctica.
Dr Arthur Richard Cecil Butson AM/GC, OMM, CD*, CStJ was born on 24th October 1922 in Hankow, China to British parents. He was educated in England at Leighton Park School, Cambridge University and University College Hospital, graduating MB, BChir in 1945.
He served in the Home Guard and a Light Rescue Squad in London during the air raids and as a medical officer with the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey in the Antarctic from 1946-48. During his year in the Antarctic, the expedition included Kevin Walton GC, and the party surveyed the last 1,000 miles of the most inaccessible coastline in the world. For his distinguished service in Antarctica, Dr Butson was awarded the Polar Medal.
On the evening of 26th-27th July 1947, Mr Peterson, an American member of the Ronne Antarctic Research Expedition, fell into a crevasse. Butson was part of one rescue team, but the hazards of crossing a heavily crevassed glacier at night were much increased. On arrival, Butson immediately volunteered to be lowered into the crevasse, where he found Peterson wedged head down 106ft below the surface, and suffering from shock and exhaustion. For nearly an hour Butson chipped away at the ice in an extremely confined space in order to free the American, who was then brought to the surface and placed in a tent. The rope was again lowered and Dr Butson sent up the precious equipment before coming up himself. He then gave medical first aid to Peterson and returned to base carrying the casualty on a sledge.
Peterson made a full recovery, took a second degree at Harvard and served in the US Marines in Korea. Butson was awarded the Albert Medal, announced in the London Gazette on 28th September 1948. Butson returned to England, where he completed his post-graduate surgical studies, before emigrating to Canada in 1952, settling in Hamilton, Ontario, where he practised as a surgeon. He joined the McMaster University Medical School in 1970 on its establishment, and became Clinical Professor in the Department of Surgery. He was Chief of Staff at St Joseph’s Hospital for two years.
In 1956, he joined the Canadian Militia as Medical Officer to the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry Regiment. He even qualified as a parachutist at the age of 55 in 1977. He was appointed Honorary Surgeon to Queen Elizabeth II in 1977 and was made an Officer of the Order of Military Merit of Canada in 1982. He was also very active in the St John’s Ambulance and was a Companion of the Order of St John. He exchanged his Albert Medal for a GC and donated the Albert Medal to the University College Hospital Medical School. He died on 24th March 2015 and was buried in Spring Creek Cemetery, Mississauga, Ontario.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: BASE BORDEN MILITARY MUSEUM, BORDEN, ONTARIO.
BURIAL LOCATION: SPRING CREEK CEMETERY, MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO, CANADA.
Most of the images on this page are supplied by Rick Butson CD, the son of Dick Butson GC with many thanks from myself.