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Biographical entry Howard, Russell John (1875 - 1942)

CBE 1919; MRCS and FRCS 11 June 1903; MB London 1899; MS 1903.

20 January 1875
2 December 1942
Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire
General surgeon


Born 20 January 1875, the fourth child and third son of James Henry Howard, timber merchant, and Maria Dyer Field, his wife. He was educated at King's College School and at the London Hospital, with which he remained closely connected throughout his life. He was a scholar of the Hospital Medical College in surgery and obstetric medicine, took first class honours and the gold medal in medicine and forensic medicine at the London MB examination and the gold medal at the MS examination, and served as demonstrator of anatomy in the Medical College and as house surgeon in the Hospital. After a period as surgeon to outpatients at the Royal Waterloo Hospital for Children and Women he was appointed surgeon to the London Hospital in 1908, becoming eventually senior surgeon, and he continued to lecture on surgery and surgical nursing after his retirement from the surgeoncy in 1939. On the formation of the emergency medical service, at the outbreak of war, he was made group officer and head of the sector based on the London Hospital, in September 1939. At the Royal College of Surgeons he served on the Court of Examiners from 1925 to 1935.

Howard carried on a large consulting practice at 20 Queen Anne: Street, W, but will be chiefly remembered as a great teacher, simple and reasonable in his methods, of which he also conveyed much in his text-books. His forcible sayings were noted and his sound advice sought after. He regularly held informal discussions, "rags", for his pupils on Saturdays at 9 am, and even introduced a blackboard into the operating-theatre. His portrait by James Gunn, RP, at the London Hospital Medical College shows him, characteristically, lecturing in his white coat. Howard never married. He died suddenly on 2 December 1942 at the Manor House, Oving, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, aged 67, and was buried at Oving. A memorial service was held at St Philip's Church, Stepney Way, E on 7 December. Howard was of large frame with small hands and feet. He had a crisp cockney voice, brilliant eyes and smile. He was compact of energy, vitality, and humour. His honesty and loyalty were absolute, and he was free from all feelings of jealousy. He was a hospitable host to colleagues and pupils at his country house, occupying them in carpentry and regaling them afterwards with excellent liqueurs. Howard was an active freemason; he was the first initiate and afterwards master of the London Hospital Lodge, and achieved the rank of Acting Senior Grand Deacon.

Surgical nursing and the principles of surgery for nurses. London, 1905.
The house-surgeon's vade-mecum. London, 1913; 2nd edition, 1926.
The practice of surgery. London, 1914; 2nd edition, 1918.
Surgical emergencies. London, 1924.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1942, 2, 740; Lancet 1942, 2, 741, with portrait; London Hosp Gaz 1943, 46, 93, eulogy by G E Neligan, MC, FRCS, and reproduction of the Gunn portrait; information given by his executor, Stanley Palmer, FLAA].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England