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Biographical entry Janikoun, Samuel Hirsch (1913 - 2008)

OBE; MRCS 1937; FRCS 1950; LRCP 1937.

12 March 1913
London, UK
15 December 2008
General surgeon


Samuel Hirsch Janikoun was joint professor of the Royal College of Surgeons of England and the Royal Army Medical College. He was born in the East End of London on 12 March 1913 into a Jewish family. He won a scholarship to Hackney Downs Grammar School and from there went on to University College London to read medicine, qualifying MRCS LRCP in 1937.

During the Second World War he first treated war casualties in a civilian hospital in Croydon. In 1942 he joined the RAMC as a surgical trainee and was posted to the Cambridge Military Hospital in Aldershot. The following year he was sent on an urgent mission as a senior medical officer on board HMS Orion with reinforcements to North Africa. On his return from this mission he was posted to 33 Casualty Clearing Station as a junior surgical specialist training for the invasion of Europe in 1944. He went on to serve in France, Holland, Belgium and Germany, operating on shattered limbs in tents behind the front line. He subsequently moved to India in January 1945, serving in Secunderabad and Barrackpore as a senior surgical specialist until he was discharged in June 1946.

On demobilisation, he became a resident surgical officer at Acton Hospital and passed his FRCS in 1950. He rejoined the RAMC in 1955. His initial posting on returning to the service was as officer in charge of the surgical division at BMH Catterick. With the intensity of action in Malaya, the Far East troops were reinforced and he was posted to BMH Singapore, qualifying for the general service medal with the Malayan clasp.

On his return to the UK in 1960 he became the senior consultant at Queen Alexandra's Military Hospital, Millbank, the central reference hospital for Army patients from home and abroad. Here he gave tremendous support to UK surgeons. If they had difficult cases he would readily give second opinions and advice, and on many occasions accepted the patient on transfer. This was an invaluable service.

After six years he returned to the BMH Singapore for a short tour before his appointment as professor of military surgery based at the Army Medical College, but he soon re-established his consulting role at Queen Alexandra's Military Hospital, Millbank.

In 1967 he was promoted to brigadier as the command consulting surgeon at the headquarters of the British Army of the Rhine, Rheindahlen, Germany.

He retired on 12 March 1973 and was soon appointed as a consultant surgeon at the limb fitting centre at Queen Mary's Hospital, Roehampton. He extended this service, taking on not only the cases from the Far East and Northern Ireland, but also the large numbers of patients from the Second Wold War who needed regular reviews as the grew older. He also gave a large amount of time and consultation to the Israel Army wounded when he was on leave.

He was given a special tea party for his 90th birthday attended by his extended family and friends. The director general of the RAMC held a special lunch in his honour at the headquarters mess of the Army Medical Services, attended by many retired surgical colleagues.

His wife Magaly, who was a dental student when they met, predeceased him after nearly 60 years of marriage. He died on 15 December 2008 and was survived by two sons and two daughters.

Norman Kirby

Sources used to compile this entry: [Information from The Times 8 January 2009].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England