Herbert Henry Curson, the eldest son of Henry Charles Curson, was born on 22 September 1892 in Upper Umzimkulu, KwaZulu Natal. His schooling was completed at Michaelhouse in Balgowan, KwaZulu Natal and he received his professional training at the Royal Veterinary College in London from 1911 to 1914. During this time he won 14 medals and qualified as a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.
From January 1915 until March 1917 Curson served as a field veterinary surgeon in the Veterinary Service Department of the Western Cape, followed by a period on the International Veterinary Commission on Rinderpest in German East Africa until October 1918. He was then appointed as research officer at Onderstepoort in the vaccine production section. In February 1920 he moved to Grahamstown to head the Veterinary Service Laboratory where he conducted research on poisonous plants. After also being placed in control of a research station dealing with trypanosomiasis (Nagana) in Zululand he returned to Onderstepoort in March 1923.
Curson spent part of 1925 in Germany, where he received his Dr.Med.Vet. degree at the TierÁ¤rtzhiche Hochschule in Hanover. In 1962 he qualified as a Fellow of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons with a thesis on lesser known poisonous South African plants. April 1926 marked his appointment as Professor and Head of the Department of Anatomy. From November 1930 Curson and Dr Hall Carpenter did investigative work on trypanosomiasia in Ngamiland on the request of the British government. Curson was also appointed Assistant Deputy Director of Native Agriculture in the Department of Native Affairs.
During World War II Curson served as a captain in the SA Defence Force for the period from 1940 to 1943, where he was in charge of animal care. He also led the Cape Corps for a while.
Curson was a champion for the attainment of legal status for the veterinary profession in South Africa. He played an important role in formulating the Veterinary Act (Act 16 of 1933) and served on the Veterinary Council. For several years he served as the Honorary Secretary of the South African Veterinary Medical Association and was editor of their magazine. He was also responsible for designing the Association’s coat of arms and motto: ‘Pristinae virtutis memores’.
On 13 September 1936 Curson was nominated as the Lifelong Honorary Vice-President of the veterinary Association and also represented his colleagues on the Association of Civil Servants. After this Curson proceeded to publish 175 articles on a variety of subjects followed by several books on military history. He was also known for his support of the development of Afrikaans as a scientific language being one of the first lecturers to present Embryology lectures in Afrikaans.
After retiring from work Curson worked as a historian in the Military Archives at Defence Headquarters for almost ten years. His wife, Magdalena Maria, was a member of the Pretoria City Council from 1937 to 1962, served as chairperson or vice-chairperson on various committees and was Mayor of Pretoria in 1947/48.