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Biographical entry Laidlaw, Cecil D'Arcy (1921 - 2004)

MRCS 1943; FRCS 1952; MB BS London 1957; DMRD 1966; BFA Griffith University 1989; LRCP 1943; MRCA 1967.

12 November 1921
Witbank, Transvaal, South Africa
7 September 2004


D’Arcy Laidlaw was a radiologist in Brisbane, Australia. He was born in Witbank, Transvaal, South Africa, on 12 November 1921. His father John was an inspector of railways. His mother was Caroline née Wilson. He was educated at Reading School, from which he went to Oxford for his preclinical studies, going on to St Bartholomew’s.

With the advent of the Second World War, D’Arcy was keen to serve in the forces, a desire intensified by the death of his brother, Kenneth Wilson Laidlaw, during the retreat to Dunkirk in June 1941. As a consequence, D’Arcy chose to study for the conjoint, the shortest route to qualifying as a doctor, gaining the MRCS LRCP in 1943. After completing a surgical house job at Leicester City General Hospital he joined the RNVR and served on the aircraft carrier HMS Formidable, mainly in the Pacific. The Formidable was attacked three times by kamikaze planes, which gave him and his colleagues much experience of trauma and burns. After VE day Formidable repatriated prisoners of war from South East Asia to their homes in India and Australia.

On being demobilised, he became a casualty officer at the Royal Free Hospital, then held RSO posts in Grantham and Leeds. He then held a series of registrar jobs in Wakefield and Hereford, and then worked as an orthopaedic registrar in Bath, before passing the FRCS after attending the course at Guy’s. He then held registrar posts at the City General Hospital, Stoke-on-Trent, St Chad’s Hospital Birmingham, and in Bristol, where he became private assistant to R V Cooke in 1957. In the same year he gained his MB BS by sitting the London University examination. In 1958 he was a temporary senior surgical registrar at Cardiff Royal Infirmary, and for the next two years he was a senior registrar in Bristol and Exeter, and did research into the cause of clubbing which was published in Clinical Science in 1963.

In 1962 he developed widespread severe acute rheumatoid arthritis, which forced him to give up surgery. He retrained in radiology at Bristol Royal Infirmary, qualifying DMRD in 1966.

He emigrated to Australia in 1966 to become director of radiology at the Wimmera Base Hospital, Victoria, and then joined a private radiology practice in Melbourne. D’Arcy then took the position of director of radiology at the Mater Misericordiae Hospital, Brisbane, in 1972, where he taught medical students and registrars. In 1981 he established his own private practice at Sherwood, subsequently expanding this to Strathpine in Brisbane.

He had a lifelong passion for art, especially painting and sculpture, and underwent a formal training, which culminated in a degree in fine art in 1989. He exhibited in Brisbane and Noosa, Queensland.

In 1951 D’Arcy married Florence Lois née Smith, a general practitioner, who predeceased him in 1976. They had three children: their daughter, Ailsa Mary Carole, is a general practitioner, one son, Phillip Kenneth D’Arcy, was a medical student who died before he could qualify, and a second son, Andrew Alistair Louis, is an electrical engineer. D’Arcy Laidlaw died on 7 September 2004.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Information from Ailsa Mary Carole Laidlaw].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England