September 1966

Dr. John H. Watson and the Subclavian Steal

Author Affiliations


From the Department of Physiology, West Virginia University Medical Center, Morgantown, WVa.

Arch Intern Med. 1966;118(3):245-248. doi:10.1001/archinte.1966.00290150059011

THE WOUND our hero, John H. Watson, MD, sustained in "the fatal battle of Maiwand" was described succinctly by him as follows:

There I was struck on the shoulder by a Jezzail bullet which shattered the bone and grazed the subclavian artery (A Study in Scarlet).

Unfortunately at a later time he wrote that the bullet had entered his leg:

... and the jezzail bullet which I had brought back in one of my limbs as a relic of my Afghan campaign throbbed with dull persistency (Adventure of the Noble Bachelor).

There appears, then, some doubt in Dr. Watson's mind as to the exact portion of the body the bullet penetrated.

Several imaginative and talented Sherlockian writers have been quick to take advantage of his lapse of memory, and it has even been suggested that the bullet was actually lodged in the gluteus maximus muscle. I have never believed this,

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