An absolutely fascinating memoir of a doctor’s life in Africa and an evocative and wholly authentic account of the East African campaign, 1914-18, a forgotten corner of the Great War.

William Boyd, author of An Ice-Cream War

 Jewell’s diaries have a distinctive voice infused with intelligence, deep wisdom, compassion, and integrity. There are so many examples of his personal bravery but they are not highlighted or presented in that way. It is easy to read on, without pausing, past the modest and matter-of-fact descriptions that he gives. He was rightly awarded the Military Cross for treatment of 100 casualties single-handed without sleep. The fine granularity of the account captivates in a way that a military historical analysis will not always do.

Sir Liam Donaldson, Chief Medical Officer for England, 1998-2010  [review Sir Liam Donaldson]

 Norman Jewell’s memoir gives us the best eye-witness account of medical conditions among the troops fighting in East Africa that we have had so far. It is a riveting account of the horrors of warfare far removed from the Western Front trenches but existing in the heat, mud, flies and dust of Kenya and Tanganyika.

Christine Nicholls, author of Red Strangers: the White Tribes of Kenya [review Christine Nicholls and in Old Africa Magazine]

 This book has wonderful photographs, and the Official Diary transcriptions have full National Archive citations. The Index of several hundred names is a boon to family historians; and a good Bibliography renders this a must-have book for the WWI East Africa enthusiast.

Ann Crichton-Harris, author of Seventeen Letters to Tatham [review Ann Crichton-Harris]

 [The book] fills in many blank spaces to the East African Campaign and brings an interesting and different angle to the medical services in the colony at the height of the British Empire. The Jewell family has done a great service to the memory of these interesting times and the people that lived through them.

James Willson, author of Guerrillas of Tsavo [review James Willson]

 Jewell’s depiction of the contingencies and missteps, the happenstance and fortunes of wartime medical practice are a real boon to the historian of global war in Africa.

Dr John Manton, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine [review John Manton]

 Dr. Jewell states ‘Africans had a natural aptitude for mechanics and Africans had their senses developed to a degree unknown to Europeans.’  There are accounts of the Wandoboro tribe’s ability to solve murder crimes, Nandi women nurses… and a Kikuyu who won every race from 100 yards to a marathon in a span of six hours…. this is a book worth reading to all those interested in an in-depth accurate account of life in Seychelles and East Africa for the period 1910 to 1932. The book would also be of interest to public health professionals, policy makers and students.

Professor George Karani, Africa Partnership Initiative, Cardiff Metropolitan University. [review Prof George Karani]

On Call in Africa tells the uncommon story of Norman P. Jewell, a medical graduate of Trinity College, Dublin. A colourful account by any measure, but as a member of the academic staff in Trinity’s Chemistry School, I confess that it was the chapter on Norman’s wife, Sydney Elise Auchinleck and Trinity’s first female graduate in Chemistry, that captured my interest. The Auchinleck family embodied some of the complexities and contradictions of Irish identity. This was a time of immense change in Trinity’s educational landscape and the account of Sydney’s experience certainly made all the more real what previously I had understood in more abstract terms.

Dr Dónall MacDonaill, Associate Professor, Chemistry Dept, Trinity College, Dublin. [review Dónall MacDonaill]

…a dedicated family project that provides a fascinating source that will be of great use to historians, as well as the general reader, interested in the complex interrelationships of colonialism, medicine and war.

Dr Anna Greenwood co-author Indian Doctors in Kenya, 1895-1940 [review Anna Greenwood]

My admiration for this memoir is more than I can easily say.  It is rich in content, scope and range. It redefines the memoir genre altogether.  By neatly weaving together Dr. Norman Jewell’s personal life and the historical, the memoir re-centers the conversation on the development and institutionalization of health systems in Africa, the colonial state, the interface between war and medicine, and the cultural engagement during the infancy of colonial governance.  The memoir will be the defining primary source for students and scholars in African medical and military history, tropical medicine, public health and intercultural studies.

Dr George Ndege, St Louis University [review Dr George Ndege]

Norman Jewell shows himself to be a keen observer who manifestly delighted in his work as a medical officer in East Africa in peace and during the first World War. His intensely human account of the life of a doctor in Africa of that period and of the people whom he met is without prejudice and very interesting. This valuable book feels right, and is enriched by detailed notes.

Sir Eldryd Parry, Founder, Tropical Health Education Trust

A fascinating account of a front-line British medical officer, Dr Norman Jewell, and his experiences in the East African campaign during 1914-1917.  Provides vivid, first-hand detail of the rigours and dangers of life in a Field Ambulance under extremely arduous conditions as well as post-war practice in colonial Kenya.  A combination of diary, memoir, official records and commentary.

Ross Anderson author of The Forgotten Front 

The late Professor Terry Ranger, who published on dance and society in East Africa, would have been intrigued by Jewell’s account of the ngoma African dances which were apparently much appreciated by their European audiences.  I have myself recently published on the various Scottish dance groups which emerged among Africans in East Africa, Malawi and southern Africa, so I was particularly interested in Jewell’s account of the kilted Scottish dancers in Kenya, known to him as the Scotch, to me as the Scotti, and his photograph of them is absolutely invaluable.

John M. MacKenzieUniversity of Edinburgh [review by John M. MacKenzie]

The two substantial sections of the book dealing with the East Africa campaign record the extraordinary difficulty of obtaining and then transporting medical supplies, provide striking evidence of the appalling conditions combatants and carriers alike suffered, and offer telling comments on some of the decisions made by senior officers. Jewell worked unremittingly to combat the deadliest enemy, which was not the fleet-footed German troops, but the insidious spread of disease, while conducting his own battle with hunger, dysentery, and malaria.

Professor A.G. Hopkins, University of Cambridge [review by Prof Hopkins]

[the book] provides the reader with the nitty gritty, fundamental jobs behind the scenes of the postings and battles that Dr Jewell and his No 3 East African Field Ambulance Unit were involved in; from Kisumi, Kitchwa Tembo Fort (October 1915), Bura (now Ng’ambwa), Mashoti (or Mwashoti), the desolate cantonment at Maktau, to the battles and skirmishes at Salaita Hill (February & March 1916) all the way down the Panganie River to Korogwe (June 1916). Here, to his surprise is an interesting rebuff to reports of the Germans’ mistreatment of Allied civilian Prisoners or War.  Jewell records the comments by Nurse MG Burns, who had been captured at the outbreak of war and was found working in the German hospital at Korogwe, was how well she had been treated by them.

Rhino Link magazine of the Kings African Rifles review Rhino Link October 2016.

A review in CoastWeek (Kenya) October 2016  Fascinating Memoir by Medical Man.

Reader reviews posted to Amazon.  See other reader reviews on this website.

Some reflections on the published book by Anne Samson


The Battle for Taveta an excerpt from On Call in Africa published in Old Africa Magazine Oct-Nov 2016.

On Call in Africa – Hardback Cover

On Call in Africa – Foreword

On Call in Africa Flyer