Major General Rupert Major Downes, (10 February 1885 – 5 March 1945) was an Australian soldier, general, surgeon and historian in the first half of the 20th century.
Downes attended the University of Melbourne, graduating with his medical degrees in 1907.
He returned to the university to pursue a Doctor of Medicine degree, which was awarded in 1911.
The son of British Army officer Major Francis Downes, Downes joined the Army as a trumpeter while he was still at school.
He was commissioned as a captain in the Australian Army Medical Corps in 1908, and joined the First Australian Imperial Force (AIF) in 1914 as its youngest lieutenant colonel.
He served in the Gallipoli campaign, and was appointed Assistant Director of Medical Services (ADMS) of the newly formed ANZAC Mounted Division in 1916, which he combined with the post of ADMS AIF Egypt.
In 1917, he became Deputy Director of Medical Services (DDMS) of the Desert Mounted Corps.
After the war, he wrote articles on medical aspects of the Sinai and Palestine Campaign, and the section on the campaign for the official history.
Returning to Australia, Downes became an honorary consulting surgeon at the Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne and Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital, and honorary surgeon at Prince Henry's Hospital.
He became a foundation fellow of the College of Surgeons of Australasia in 1927, and president of the Victorian branch of the British Medical Association in 1935.
He lectured on medical ethics at the University of Melbourne, writing the course textbook.
He was also Victorian State Commissioner of the St.
John Ambulance Brigade, which he led for 25 years, and was president of the St John Ambulance Association for eight years.
In 1934 Downes became Director General of Medical Services, the Australian Army's most senior medical officer, with the rank of major general.
He oversaw the construction of major military hospitals in the capital cities.
In 1944 he accepted a commission to edit the medical series volumes of the Official History of Australia in the War of 1939–1945 but was never able to do so as he was killed in a plane crash in 1945.