Biographical entry Calvert, James Murray (1924 - 2003)
MRCS and FRCS 1959; MB BS Melbourne1953; FRACS 1959; LRCP 1959.
Mount Bute, Victoria, Australia
James Calvert, neurosurgeon, was born at Mount Bute, near Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, where his parents owned a sheep farm. He was educated first at the local state school and then at Ballarat Grammar School. On leaving school, he worked briefly for the Commercial Bank of Australia, before enlisting at the age of 18 in April 1943 in the Australian Army.
After initial training in South Australia he was sent to the 2/8th Australian Field Regiment, which had recently returned to Australia after taking part in the Battle of El Alamein. The regiment was now training for the invasion of Sarawak and Brunei in Borneo and sailed from Townsville in May 1945, initially to Morotai and then for Brunei, where it landed on 10 June. Though there was little resistance initially, an ambush of a patrol in which Calvert was taking part resulted in the death of three of his immediate companions. The Japanese surrender occurred in August 1945 and Calvert was discharged in September 1946.
He then spent a year at a coaching college, obtaining the necessary exams to enter the medical school at the University of Melbourne. To accommodate the influx of ex-serviceman the University had set up a branch at a former RAAF base in Mildura, in the north west of Victoria, and there Calvert entered the first year of the course. For later years he was resident at Queen’s College, Melbourne University, where he rowed in the first eight, played football and took part in athletics. His clinical studies were done at the Royal Melbourne Hospital where after qualifying he did his house jobs. He then became a surgical registrar there, and later at the Western General Hospital, Footscray.
In 1959 he obtained the FRACS, went to England, passed the FRCS at the first attempt, without doing a course, which he could not afford, and entered neurosurgical training at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham under Brodie Hughes.
He returned to Melbourne in 1962, working initially at the neurosurgical department of the Alfred Hospital as an honorary (unpaid) assistant neurosurgeon until 1969. During this time he did GP locums at the weekend to make ends meet. In 1967 he took up the post of neurosurgeon to the Austin Hospital, Heidelberg, Melbourne, and there he worked for the next 20 years as senior neurosurgeon. He also held an appointment to the Repatriation Hospital, close to the Austin, which dealt with ex-servicemen, and at the Peter McCallum Clinic, the Victorian Cancer Centre. He retired from the Austin in 1987 and from the Repatriation Hospital two years later, though continuing to do medico-legal work.
Calvert was a person of quiet and retiring demeanour who worked long hours and was much liked by his patients. He was an active member of the Neurosurgical Society of Australia, being treasurer for some years and president from 1980 to 1981. He was also closely associated with the Returned Services League, the Australian ex-servicemen's association and was vice-president of his regiment. In 1956 he married Marnie Fone. They had four daughters and a son.
The Royal College of Surgeons of England
Created: 26 October 2006