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Biographical entry Milling, Peter Francis (1916 - 2004)

MRCS 1940; FRCS 1946; BA Cambridge 1937; MB BChir 1941; LRCP 1940.

1 April 1916
Port-of-Spain, Trinidad
31 October 2004
Isle of Man
ENT surgeon


Peter Milling was senior surgeon at the Royal Ear Hospital, Huntley Street, then part of University College, London, and a hidden treasure of ENT wisdom. He was born in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad on 1 April 1916, the elder son of Frederick William Milling, a Yorkshireman, who, after gaining a degree in greats at Oxford, went straight into business, and Audrey Franca Myra (neƩ Messerby), whose father had been a bank manager. Peter Milling was educated at Wimbledon College and Stonyhurst, and then read medicine at Trinity College, Cambridge, and St Thomas's Hospital Medical School.

Shortly after qualifying he was offered a clinical assistantship by D F A ('Fred') Neilson, consultant ENT surgeon at St Thomas'. He then joined the RAMC, with the rank of lieutenant, and was seconded to a field ambulance unit in England. After nine months of service he was invalided out on the grounds of deafness and sinusitis. The deafness was to be a burden to him for the rest of his life (he wore bilateral hearing aids).

He resumed his training in ENT, first as a surgical registrar to the ENT department at the Royal Cancer (later Marsden) Hospital and then, with the help of R I ('Bobby') Cann, as a chief clinical assistant and registrar at Guy's Hospital. He later returned to St Thomas' as chief assistant (senior registrar) to W A ('Bill') Mill and Geoffrey Bateman.

In addition to his consultant post at the Royal Ear Hospital, Peter Milling was also appointed to sessions at the Brompton Hospital, Epsom District Hospital, Oxsed and Limpsfield hospitals, and to the Civil Service Chest Hospital at Benenden.

Peter Milling was somewhat old fashioned in his manner. He was a shrewd diagnostician and contributed chapters to the first edition of Diseases of the ear, nose and throat (London, Butterworth & Co, 1952) edited by Bill Scott-Brown.

As a young man he played rugby, cricket, squash and bridge, which he used to play before breakfast at Cambridge. Peter Milling's main passion, though, was for trout fishing. This started in 1961 and continued well into his retirement at the age of 60, when he moved to the Isle of Man. He described himself as being a 'crazy trout fisherman who would prefer to fish than to work, but who seldom managed to exercise the preference'.

In 1941 Peter Milling married Peggy Todd, who was a childhood friend and a Guy's nurse. She was the sister of T F Todd, a gynaecologist. They shared their Catholic faith and a long marriage.

Despite falling down the stairs at his home and breaking his neck, Peter Milling nevertheless lived on to the grand age of 88. He died on 31 October 2004.

Neil Weir

The Royal College of Surgeons of England