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Biographical entry Simmons, Clifford Alan ( - 2010)

FRCS 1950; BA Oxford 1939; BM BCh 1942; MRCOG 1952; FRCOG 1964.

15 March 2010
Obstetrician and gynaecologist


Clifford Alan Simmons was an obstetrician and gynaecologist in London, with appointments at the Royal Marsden and Mount Vernon hospitals. The son of a journalist, who edited the trade newspaper Toy News, Simmons qualified from Oxford in 1942.

He joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and volunteered for service with the airborne forces. After parachute training, he was posted to 181 (Airlanding) Field Ambulance and served in the North African and the Sicily campaigns. After the Allied invasion of Europe, in 1944, the Battle for Arnhem took place and Clifford landed by glider on the landing zone west of Arnhem, where an advanced dressing station was set up at Wolfheze, treating many casualties. A hospital was set up at Hotel Schoonhord, becoming the main advanced dressing station. The hotel was captured by the Germans, but then retaken by the 4th Parachute Brigade. Negotiations took place with the German command, and permission was granted to move the patients safely to a Dutch or German hospital. Clifford volunteered to stay with the patients, became a prisoner of war, and was eventually moved to a German prison camp.

After demobilisation, he was a casualty officer at the Royal Free Hospital, a house surgeon at the Royal Sussex County Hospital and the Postgraduate Medical School, London, and then a resident surgical officer at Wembley Hospital. He then decided to specialise in obstetrics and gynaecology. He returned to Oxford, as an obstetrics house surgeon at the Churchill Hospital, and then as a house surgeon in the gynaecology department at the Radcliffe Infirmary. He held the Horatio Symonds studentship in surgery in 1951, based in Oxford.

He was subsequently a senior registrar at the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, London. In the mid-1950s, he became chief assistant at the Chelsea Hospital for Women and Queen Charlotte's, and an honorary registrar at the Royal Marsden Hospital. At Chelsea he was readily influenced by Sir Charles Read. He published a review of vaginoplasties undertaken at Chelsea between 1938 and 1958 ('Vaginoplasties at Chelsea Hospital for Women, 1938-1958' Proc R Soc Med 1959 Nov;52:953-4), and also wrote on endometriosis, and on cancer of the cervix and uterus.

He became a consultant at the Mount Vernon and the Radium Hospital; he also had sessions at Northwood and Pinner District Hospital, and then an obstetric session at City of London Maternity Hospital.

He was married to Jean and they had three children - Jenny, Bev and Penny. He died on 15 March 2010.

Michael Pugh

The Royal College of Surgeons of England