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Biographical entry Hunt, Peter Woodland (1916 - 2011)

MRCS LRCP 1939; MB BS London 1947; FRCS 1948.

27 May 1916
8 April 2011
General practitioner and General surgeon


For most of his career Peter Woodland Hunt was one of the few surgeons in the vast country of Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). There he rapidly learnt to cope efficiently with mine accidents, ophthalmics, plastics and obstetrics, in addition to a heavy general surgical workload.

He was born in Dublin on 27 May 1916 and raised in Newbury, Berkshire, where his parents owned and ran two newsagents. His father died from tuberculosis when Peter was 12, possibly contracted during the First World War, but his mother continued to run both businesses successfully. Peter's secondary education was at Christ's Hospital School, in which he took a lifelong interest. He went on to study medicine at the Middlesex Hospital School of Medicine, qualifying with the conjoint examination in January 1939.

He was a house surgeon and then a casualty officer at the Middlesex Hospital until he was conscripted in 1940. Wartime service with the Royal Army Medical Corps took him to many places, including Northern Ireland, Normandy, Norway and finally India. His experience resulted in a deep interest in the war and he was widely read on the subject. It was during the war that he met and married Margaret Reed, a nursing sister at the Middlesex Hospital. The needs of conscription meant that their early years of marriage were largely spent apart. In 1946 he was discharged with the honorary rank of lieutenant colonel.

Following his demobilisation, Peter was firstly an orthopaedic house surgeon at Ealing Memorial Hospital. During this time he obtained his MB BS. Then, whilst a general surgical registrar at the Middlesex Hospital (from 1947 to 1950), he gained his FRCS.

In 1950, with his wife and two young children, he set off for a new beginning in Northern Rhodesia. Initially he was a surgeon and general duties medical officer with the Rhodesia Broken Hill Development Company. In 1953, he was appointed as a surgeon specialist to the Rhokana Corporation Ltd, Kitwe, a large mining and ore processing company. For some years he was in private surgical practice serving all the Northern Rhodesia copperbelt towns. Following the consolidation of the mining companies after Zambia's independence, he became group medical adviser to Nchanga Consolidated Copper Mines Ltd, one of two conglomerates created to manage the copper industry. There were many challenges, not least the breadth of surgical specialties that he was required to cover and be expert in.

On retirement in 1976, Peter and his family settled in the Channel Island of Alderney, where his mother had bought a house before the Second World War (she moved there permanently in the 1946, following the repopulation of the island). For the first year or so on the island he was a locum in one of the island's general practices. Sadly, in 1986, Margaret, his wife of 44 years, died. In Alderney, Peter created a fine garden and home, which was frequently visited by his son and daughter, four granddaughters and six great grandchildren. He travelled widely to visit his family in South Africa, Germany, Hong Kong, Brazil and Australia. A quiet and unassuming man, he enjoyed listening to classical music, reading widely and had an addiction to crosswords. In his final years he was well cared for in the island's care home, surrounded by family and his many friends. He died on 8 April 2011, aged 94.

Peter Hunt was indeed a general surgeon in the broadest sense, working successfully in an environment and situation that would have been at the very least challenging.

Susan Stewart
Geoffrey L Ridgway

Sources used to compile this entry: [Personal knowledge, information from family].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England