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Biographical entry Gourevitch, Arnold (1914 - 2004)

MC; TD; MRCS 1936; FRCS 1939; MB ChB Birmingham 1948; LRCP 1936.

24 February 1914
Paris, France
5 February 2004
General surgeon


Arnold Gourevitch was a consultant surgeon in Birmingham. He was born in Paris on 24 February 1914, the son of Russian Jewish émigrés. At the outbreak of the first world war his parents fled to England, eventually settling in Birmingham. His father, Mendel, later qualified as a doctor and became a general practitioner in Aston. Gourevitch was educated at King Edward VI School, Birmingham, and then went on to Birmingham University, where he qualified in medicine.

Gourevitch joined the Territorial Army in 1938 and was commissioned into the Royal Army Medical Corps. He served with the TA Field Ambulance, part of the 145 Brigade, 48th South Midland Division, and accompanied them to France with the British Expeditionary Force. He was evacuated from La Baule, Brittany, where he had been manning a hospital with the help of a single orderly. He was posted to Leeds as RMO of the 10th West Yorkshire Regiment, before joining the surgical division of No 7 General Hospital.

In April 1941 he disembarked at Suda bay in Crete, and established a hospital, near Galatas, west of Canea. The Germans advanced through the island, and Gourevitch was captured and held at a prisoner of war camp at Galatas. Here he organised a hospital for the many wounded. As the prisoners were being transferred to more secure accommodation, Gourevitch and an Australian surgeon decided to escape. They lived in caves and huts as fugitives, and were later picked up by Special Operations Executive and taken to Libya. Gourevitch was awarded the Military Cross for his actions.

He was subsequently posted to the 8th Field Surgical Unit, part of the 2nd New Zealand division, and served with the unit at El Alamein. He later took part in the invasion of Sicily and the Italian campaign. He was mentioned in despatches at Monte Cassino and was in Trieste at the end of the war.

Following his demobilisation in 1946, he was appointed as a consultant in general surgery at the Queen Elizabeth and Birmingham Children's Hospital. In 1969 he was elected to the Court of Examiners of the College. He presented two Hunterian lectures.

In the early 1960s he spent time in Ethiopia, teaching and operating, and helping to support the development of a medical school. In 1973 he took time off to help Israeli surgeons during the Yom Kippur war.

Gourevitch was an enthusiastic after-dinner speaker. He enjoyed squash, playing golf and hill walking. A natural linguist, he knew French, Russian, Hebrew and Greek. He also enjoyed painting. He married Corrine Natkiel in 1951. They had three sons (David, Daniel and Samuel) and two daughters (Gillian and Naomi). There are nine grandchildren. He died from pneumonia on 5 February 2004.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Daily Telegraph 5 April 2004, with portrait; BMJ 2004 329 235.].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England