Reginald Koettlitz

Surgeon and Botanist

Born on 23rd December 1860 in Ostend, Belgium. Koettlitz sought a career in medicine, studying both at Guy’s Hospital London and the Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh before working as a doctor in County Durham for 9 years. Between 1894 and 1897 he was part of the Jackson-Harmsworth expedition to Franz Josef Land. It was here that he learned fresh meat was a crucial part of the expedition diet as it helped to prevent scurvy.

In 1900, Koettlitz was appointed senior surgeon and bacteriologist on the Discovery. Aged 40, he was the oldest crew member of the ship’s crew. Affectionately known as ‘Cutlets’, he carried out his first ever surgical operation in Antarctica when he had to remove a cyst from Lieutenant Royd’s cheek. After the expedition, Koettlitz went to work as a doctor in South Africa. On 10th January 1916, Koettlitz and his wife, Marie, died within two hours of each other – he of acute dysentery and his wife of heart disease.