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Biographical entry Williams, Albert Frederick (1914 - 2013)

BSc Manchester 1936; MRCS LRCP 1939; MB ChB 1939; FRCS 1940.

11 November 1914
Ellesmere Port, Cheshire
8 February 2013
General surgeon


Albert Frederick Williams, known as 'Eric', was a consultant general surgeon in Oldham. He was born at Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, the eldest son of Sydney Harold Williams and Gladys Ann Williams née Rogers. Both parents were Welsh, and both were teachers: his father was headmaster of Crewe Green School. Eric was educated at Coedpoeth, near Wrexham, and at Crewe Grammar School. He excelled in all subjects, except art, where he was near the bottom of the class. He enjoyed football, cricket and tennis, and was a supporter of Lancashire Cricket Club.

Eric had a place at Cambridge University to read geography but, just before leaving school, he made an overnight decision to study medicine, following a suggestion from a teacher. In later life, Eric said it was the best decision he ever made. He started at the Victoria University of Manchester Medical School in 1933. Academically he performed very well. He had the highest mark in anatomy in his year. He obtained a BSc in anatomy in 1936 and qualified MB ChB in 1939. In 1940 he gained his FRCS.

After a house post, Eric saw active service during the Second World War. He went to France on 5 June 1944, with what he described as a powerful naval squadron sailing in front. He landed with the Canadians on Juno beach on 6 June (D-Day) and served in casualty clearing stations in France and Belgium.

After embarkation leave in January 1945, he sailed to Gibraltar and Bombay, and then travelled in stages to casualty clearing stations in Karachi, Burma, Batavia, Java and Saigon, followed by three months in Makassar and the Celebes islands, before sailing home in June 1946. The patient he had with the most extensive injuries had 23 bowel perforations and survived. Eric's notebook of the operations he carried out while with 32 Casualty Clearing Station in 1944 is in the RCS archives. In his last year in the Army he was a surgical specialist with the rank of major.

After the war he was a senior registrar on the surgical professorial unit at Manchester Royal Infirmary for four years. In 1950 he took up the post of senior consultant general surgeon at Oldham Hospital, where he worked until his retirement in 1978. He was also a part time lecturer in clinical anatomy at Manchester University from 1949 to 1953.

He was a well-respected surgeon in Oldham and many of his colleagues' families became patients. He was an advocate of early post-operative mobilisation and always had a very cautious approach to antibiotic use. He had a particular interest in thyroid and abdominal surgery, and wrote extensively on these subjects. He was also a dedicated trainer of his junior staff.

In 1942 Eric married Dorothy Douthwaite and they were happily married for 65 years. They enjoyed their retirement on the Llŷn Peninsula in north Wales, each surviving into their late nineties. Gardening, walking and reading were daily pastimes. He also had an interest in birds and was a recorder of butterflies on the Llŷn Peninsula for the Butterfly Conservation Society.

The church played a large part in his life. He was a regular church goer and was church warden of Ashton-under-Lyne Parish Church and, in retirement, treasurer at St Mary's, Morfa Nefyn.

Eric was a quiet man, but enjoyed intellectual conversation. He was widely read, particularly of historical biographies, and was a fount of knowledge, imparting interesting snippets from time to time. He had a succinct wit.

He died on 8 February 2013, aged 98, and was survived by his two daughters, Jill and Kathleen, four grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

Jill Woodward
Kathleen Finch
Rebecca Conroy

The Royal College of Surgeons of England