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Biographical entry Cutler, Geoffrey Abbott (1920 - 2000)

FRCS 1956; MB BS Sydney 1952; FRACS 1961.

29 February 1920
Manly, New South Wales, Australia
20 October 2000
General surgeon


Geoff Cutler was a surgeon in New South Wales, Australia. He was born on 29 February 1920 in Manly, a suburb of Sydney. He was the second of the three sons of Arthur and Ruby Cutler. Their father was a sales representative for Remington, who had been a crack shot and twice winner at Bisley. He was killed in a car accident in 1935 and Geoffrey left school at 17 to work in a bank, whilst studying for a degree at night.

When the war came he was keen to enlist, but his mother would not sign the papers as his elder brother, later to become Sir Roden Cutler, future diplomat and Governor of New South Wales, had been seriously wounded in Syria, winning the VC, but losing his leg. Geoff joined the RAAF when he was 21. While he was learning to fly he became bored during a long formation flight to Goulbourn and decided to slip away to do a few loops and rolls, and then found to his consternation that he was quite alone and not sure where he was. He landed his Tiger Moth in a suitable field, but was quickly surrounded by a group of men in uniform, who told him that he was in the middle of a prison farm. Undeterred, on getting directions for Goulbourn, he persuaded them to hang on to his plane’s tail until he had sufficient power to take off. (He kept this story secret for many years.) Later he became a test and ferry pilot, and saw enemy action in Burma and New Guinea.

After the war he was able to enrol in medicine, his first love, through the repatriation arrangements provided for ex-servicemen. Enrolling with 726 other students, they were warned that 50 per cent of their year would be failed at the end of the year. He graduated with honours in 1952 and did his house appointments at Manly Hospital, having been attached to the Royal North Shore Hospital as a student.

He went to England in 1954, intending to specialise in gynaecology and obstetrics, but changed to surgery, and did junior jobs in Middlesex, Northampton, Guildford and Oldchurch Hospital, Romford, as well as attending courses at the College.

After passing the FRCS he returned to Australia in 1957 to a registrar position at the Royal North Shore Hospital, and started in private practice in 1958.

Among his other interests were reading history, and breeding Hereford cattle on his farm, which he owned for 25 years. He had met Dorothy Arnold, another Australian, when she was nursing in London. They married in 1959 and had three children, two boys and a girl. Stephen, the eldest, represented Australia at rugby for ten years, before going to the USA to work for the pharmaceutical firm Quintiles. Anne became a physiotherapist and Rob became a solicitor in Sydney. Geoff Cutler died on 20 October 2000 from carcinoma of the colon.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Information from Mrs Dorothy Cutler].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England