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Biographical entry Maguire, William Brian (1925 - 2007)

MRCS and FRCS 1955; MB BS Queensland 1950; LRCP 1955; FRACS 1959.

6 March 1925
Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia
12 March 2007
Orthopaedic surgeon


Bill Maguire was an orthopaedic surgeon in Brisbane, Australia. He was born in Newcastle, New South Wales, on 6 March 1925, the second son of John Francis Maguire, a schoolmaster, and his wife, Margaret née Jones. His father had lost his leg in France during the First World War and Bill later based his design for a simple prosthesis on that used by his father.

Bill was educated at Coorparoo State Primary and the Church of England Grammar School in Brisbane, where he became a good swimmer and middle distance runner, and played rugby. He also developed an uncommon skill with languages, particularly French, and on leaving school he at first planned to teach French, but later decided to study medicine, for which he won a Commonwealth scholarship to the University of Queensland. There he paid his way by working at the Carlton and United Breweries, the Coca Cola factory, and as a labourer in the Mount Isa mines, working deep underground, freeing rocks that had become jammed after blasting. After a year at university he volunteered for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), where he won his wings and gained his licence. He returned to complete his medical degree, and then held junior posts at the Royal Brisbane Hospital and did his Primary from a post as demonstrator in anatomy.

In 1952, by now married to Dorothy Friend, a nurse, he took a ship to England, to work as a registrar at the Queen Alexandra and the Royal hospitals in Portsmouth. He attended the FRCS course at St Thomas’s, passed the FRCS, and then worked at Walsall Hospital.

In 1956 he returned to Australia, as medical superintendent at Toowoomba Base Hospital. There he did all types of surgery, but increasingly specialised in orthopaedics. He moved to Brisbane in 1958 as an orthopaedic supervisor. In 1964 he moved into private practice as visiting consultant at the Princess Alexandra and Greenslopes Repatriation hospitals.

In the Australasian College Maguire helped develop the training programme in orthopaedics, examined in that specialty, and helped to set up a programme for training Indonesian surgeons in orthopaedics. In 1968 he joined an Australian medical team in Vietnam, where he found his facility in French helpful in dealing with the French-speaking nuns who nursed his patients. There he carried out a number of operations on lepers. When hostilities were over he continued to help Vietnamese doctors who had come to Australia.

Bill Maguire was president of the Queensland branch of the Australasian Orthopaedic Association in 1983, served on the Australian Medical Association council in 1961, and continued in the RAAF reserve as a consultant orthopaedic surgeon with the rank of wing commander.

He published All you need to know about joint replacement (Brisbane, Boolarong, 1990) and various papers on orthopaedic topics, published in the Medical Journal of Australia and the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Surgery.

In 1996, whilst on holiday in Tasmania, Bill was involved in the notorious Port Arthur massacre, when a mentally disturbed young man murdered 35 people. Bill was one of the first doctors on the scene and helped tend the victims. He was decorated for his bravery.

Outside medicine, Bill Maguire had many interests. He continued to fly and was a keen sailor. He was a voluntary doctor at the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane in 1982. Above all, he was devoted to all things French, being a member of the French Orthopaedic Association, where he gave his papers in French, enjoyed Proust, and acted as the interpreter for the Australian Rugby Tour of France in 1984. Taking up golf later in life, he achieved two holes in one.

He and his wife, Dorothy, had five sons, John William, Alan Henry, Bruce Douglas, Stephen Francis and Robert Evan. Bill Maguire died on 12 March 2007.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Information from Dorothy Maguire and Alan Maguire].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England