Frederick Grant Banting

Portrait of Dr. Frederick Grant Banting, circa 1925

Frederick Grant Banting (1891–1941), medical scientist, doctor, and Nobel Laureate, is one of the most distinguished scientists of Canada. Banting was a medical student at the University of Toronto when he volunteered for the Canadian Army Medical Corps (CAMC) on September 8, 1915. His studies were fast-tracked to meet the need for more doctors in the Army. He reported for duty with the CAMC in December 1916, just one day after he graduated. He served in military hospitals in England and, in 1918, was wounded in his right arm by a shell at the Battle of Cambrai, in northern France. Despite his injury, he continued to tend to casualties for another 16 hours and was later awarded the Military Cross for his actions.

After the war, Banting returned to the University of Toronto to complete his surgical training. Banting’s research into diabetes, with colleague J.J.R. Macleod and medical student Charles H. Best, led to the discovery of insulin as a treatment for diabetic patients. He and Macleod were jointly awarded the 1923 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their research. Then only 32 years of age, Banting remains the youngest recipient of the Nobel Prize in the area of physiology and medicine. His career included research into silicosis, cancer, the mechanisms of drowning, and physiological problems suffered at high altitudes. King George V knighted him in 1934. During a trip to England on February 21, 1941, Frederick G. Banting died when the plane crashed in Newfoundland.

Service Record Details

Attestation Paper 1

Date of Birth:November 14, 1891 (Alliston, Ontario)

Date of Attestation: September 8, 1915 (Niagara Camp), May 4, 1915 (Toronto), December 10, 1916 (Ex Camp, Toronto).

Age at Enlistment:25 years old

Prior Military Service: “Two years with the 36th Peel.” Eight months with the Canadian Army Medical Corps 2nd Field Ambulance.

Height: 5 feet, 11 inches

Weight: 175 lbs

Description: Fair complexion, blue eyes, light brown hair. Methodist, Presbyterian.

Home Address : Alliston, Ontario

Trade: Medical Student, Physician

Married: No

Next of Kin: Father, William Thompson Banting. Mother, Mrs. William Thompson Banting.

Theatre of War: Canada, England, France

Casualties/Medical History

Attestation Paper 2
  • September 28, 1918 – Banting experiences a gunshot wound to the right forearm at the Battle of Cambrai. A stamp on his file indicates that he is given an “anti-tetanus inoculation” upon admission to hospital.
  • October 1, 1918 – He is transferred from Ville de Lieges, Belgium to Shorncliffe, England.
  • Banting spends a total of 20 days in hospital because of his wound. The larger bone in his right forearm is slightly damaged and fragments of bullet are removed in surgery. He has a scar and some loss of movement in the little finger of his affected hand.

Interesting Details from the Service Record

  • Banting enlists as a medical student, returns to medical school, graduates, and re-enlists. He is at the rank of Staff Sergeant Nursing when granted leave to return to his medical studies. Upon graduation, he rejoins as an officer, with the rank of Lieutenant. He serves in Canada and England, where he is made Captain, eventually joining the Field Ambulances in France.
  • June 29, 1918 – Upon his arrival in France, Banting is taken on strength (TOS) with the No. 3 Canadian General Hospital. He is TOS with the 13th Canadian Field Ambulance on July 14th and with the 5th Canadian Field Ambulance on August 18th.
  • In 1918, he is granted leave for Christmas and awarded the Military Cross on December 31st.
  • A letter from Lieutenant Colonel Richardson, one of his commanding officers, dated September 2, 1919, is contained in his service file. It states that Banting served with the Stationary Hospital in Niagara-on-the-Lake from May 4 to October 14, 1915. He was granted two periods of leave, each lasting for six months, to attend and complete medical school at “Toronto University.”

The London Gazette

Supplement to The London Gazette, July 30, 1919, Page 9789
“Capt., Frederick Grant Banting, 13th Fld. Amb., Can. A.M.C.
Near Haynecourt on September 28, 1918, when the medical officer of the 46th Canadian battalion was wounded, he immediately proceeded forward through intense shell fire to reach the battalion. Several of his men were wounded and he, neglecting his own safety, stopped to attend to them. While doing this he was wounded himself and was sent out notwithstanding his plea to be left at the front. His energy and pluck were of a very high order.”

Military Medals, Honours and Awards (1812–1969)

Census Records

    Census Record 1901
  • 1901 Census
    At age 9, Frederick G. Banting is living in Simcoe South, Sub-District of Essa, in Ontario. His father is William Banting (52), a farmer, of Irish descent, and his mother, Margaret (46), is also Irish. Their religion is listed as Methodist. They have five children, Nelson A. (19), William T. (18), Alexander (17), Ester (13), and Frederick (9).

  • 1911 Census
    At age 19, Frederick G. Banting still resides at home with both of his parents, his sister Ester, and his brother Alexander (who now calls himself Kenneth). The older boys have moved out. Nelson is married to a woman named Margaret (24). His brother William (who now calls himself Thompson) is married to a woman named Lena (22) and they have a two-month-old daughter named Helen.

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