Nunn, Joshua Arthur (DNB12)

NUNN, JOSHUA ARTHUR (1853–1908), colonel, army veterinary service, born on 10 May 1853 at Hill Castle, co. Wexford, Ireland, was son of Edward W. Nunn, J. P., D.L. He was educated at Wimbledon school, and served in the royal Monmouthshire engineer militia from 1871 to 1877. In 1874 he entered the Royal Veterinary College at Camden Town, and was admitted M.R.C.V.S. on 4 Jan. 1877, being elected F.R.C.V.S. on 29 April 1886. In 1877 he obtained a certificate in cattle pathology from the Royal Agricultural Society. He was gazetted veterinary surgeon on probation in the army veterinary service on 21 April 1877 and veterinary surgeon to the royal artillery on 24 April 1877, being the last officer to obtain a commission under the old regimental system.

Nunn proceeded to India at the end of 1877, and from September 1879 to August 1880 he took part in the Afghan war as the veterinary officer in charge of transport on the Khyber line of communication. Later, accompanying the expeditionary column in the Lughman valley, he was in charge of the transport base hospital at Gandamak. For these services he gained the war medal.

He was employed on special duty from 1880 to 1885 as a civil servant under the Punjab government, first in the suppression of glanders under the Glanders and Farcy Act, afterwards in connection with the agricultural department of the Punjab as the veterinary inspector. In this capacity he travelled widely to collect all manner of information and statistics about cattle, including folklore and disease. This he embodied in a series of valuable reports: 'Animal Diseases in Rohtak' (1882); 'Diseases in Sialkote and Hazara' (1883); 'Diseases in the Montgomery and Shapur Districts' (1884 and 1885). At the same time he lectured to native students at the Lahore veterinary college. He left India in 1886, and the government of the Punjab recognised his valuable services in a special minute.

Immediately after leaving India he was ordered to South Africa to investigate 'horse sickness,' which was thought to be due to anthrax. After taking short courses of bacteriology at Cambridge and Paris, he reached South Africa in January 1887 and remained there until October 1888. He proved that the sickness was malarial in type. Engaging meanwhile in the campaign against the Zulus in 1888, he was at the surrender of the chief Somkali at St. Lucia Lagoon.

He returned to India in January 1889, and was appointed inspecting veterinary officer of the Chittagong column during the Chin Lushai expedition. He was mentioned in despatches and was decorated with the Distinguished Service Order, being the first member of the army veterinary service to receive this distinction. At the end of the Chin Lushai campaign he was appointed in 1890 principal of the Lahore veterinary school, where he laboured for six years and laid the foundations of the native veterinary service, being rewarded with the C.I.E. in 1895. Nunn did much to advance the cause of veterinary science in India. Of untiring energy, he was personally popular with varied classes of his comrades.

From December 1896 to August 1905 Nunn was in England, spending part of his time in studying law. He was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn in November 1899, and was afterwards nominated an advocate of the supreme court of the Transvaal. Again in England, he was from 1901 to 1904 deputy director-general of the army veterinary department, and was principal veterinary officer (eastern command) in 1904-5. From August 1905 he filled a similar position in South Africa, but was transferred to India in June 1906 and was made a C.B. He served in spite of illness till 1907, when he was forced to return to England. He died at Oxford on 23 Feb. 1908. He married in 1907 Gertrude Ann, widow of W. Chamberlain and daughter of E. Kellner, C.I.E.

Nunn, who was joint editor of the 'Veterinary Journal' from 1893 to 1906, published, in addition to the reports noticed above:

  1. 'Report on South African Horse Sickness,' 1888.
  2. Notes on 'Stable Management in India,' 1896; 2nd edit. 1897.
  3. 'Lectures on Saddlery and Harness,' 1902.
  4. 'Veterinary First Aid in Cases of Accident or Sudden Illness,' 1903.
  5. 'The Use of Molasses as a Feeding Material,' from the French of Edouard Curot, 1903.
  6. 'Diseases of the Mammary Gland of the Domestic Animals,' from the French of P. Leblanc, 1904.
  7. 'Veterinary Toxicology,' 1907.

[Veterinary Record, 7 March 1908, p. 649; Veterinary Journal, March 1908, p, 105 (with portrait).]

D’A. P.