Browse Fellows


www Lives

Biographical entry Walker-Brash, Robert Munro Thorburn (1920 - 2006)

MRCS and FRCS 1950; BM BCh Oxford 1944.

15 November 1920
London, UK
15 September 2006
General surgeon


Munro Walker-Brash was a consultant general surgeon at Orpington and Sevenoaks hospitals. He was born in London on 15 November 1920, the second son of John Walker-Brash, a general practitioner, and his wife Gloria Lilian née Parker. He was educated privately at Colet Court in Hammersmith and Cliveden Place School, Eaton Square, and then entered Westminster as a King’s scholar, remaining there from 1934 until 1939. He was a chorister for Royal events in Westminster Abbey, including the coronation of King George VI. From Westminster he went up to Christ Church, Oxford, and on to St Bartholomew’s for his clinical training in 1942, spending part of his time in Smithfield during the Blitz, and part at Hill End Hospital, a former mental hospital to which Bart’s students were evacuated.

After qualifying, he was house surgeon to Sir James Paterson Ross and John Hosford, by whom he was greatly influenced. He did his National Service in the RAMC, rising to the rank of major, and returned to Bart’s to be junior registrar to Basil Hume. After six months at Great Ormond Street he returned to the surgical unit at Bart’s under Sir James Paterson Ross, and then went to Norwich as registrar to Charles Noon and Norman Townsley, and the Jenny Lind Hospital for Sick Children.

He returned to Bart’s in 1954 as chief assistant to Rupert Corbett and Alec Badenoch, progressing after one year to senior registrar on the ‘Green’ firm. He was noted for his dexterity, clinical judgment and teaching ability. At this time senior registrars continued their training in Bart’s sector hospitals, in Munro’s case this was at Southend General Hospital, where he worked with Rodney Maingot, who was also at the Royal Free Hospital, and Donald Barlow, who also worked at the Luton and Dunstable and London Chest hospitals. In spite of spending so much time on the road, both were prolific writers and had thriving private practices. During this period Munro was much influenced by his namesake Andrew Munro, who later moved to the Royal Postgraduate Medical School.

Munro’s definitive consultant posts were at Orpington and Sevenoaks hospitals, from 1960 until his retirement in 1984. He used his extremely wide general surgical training and admitted that ‘he was overworked at two peripheral hospitals’. Surgical Tutor at these hospitals for five years from 1970, he said he wrote ‘nothing of importance’.

Despite his sizeable frame, his main hobby was riding: he was a show-jumping judge and an early supporter and helper of Riding for the Disabled.

He married Eva Frances Jacqueline Waite, a Bart’s nurse in 1945. They had two children, Angela, who became a personal assistant in the legal department at Scotland Yard, and Robert, who emigrated to Auckland, New Zealand, to work as an insolvency accountant. Munro’s wife was diabetic and predeceased her husband, dying in 1985. Following her death, he was befriended by Pauline Smeed. Munro had a fall in May 2006 and died in hospital on 15 September 2006.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Information from Robert Walker-Brash].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England