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Biographical entry Phillips, Walter (1878 - 1945)

MRCS and FRCS 13 June 1912; BA RUI 1898; MB BCh BAO 1902.

10 March 1878
Damascus, Syria
19 April 1945
Matlock, Derbyshire
General surgeon


Born at Damascus in Syria on 10 March 1878, eldest of the seven sons and one daughter of the Rev John Gillis Phillips, of the Irish Presbyterian Mission, and Annie McCann, his wife. He was educated at the Royal Academical Institute, Belfast, Trent College, Nottingham, and Queen's College, Belfast, at that time a constituent college of the Royal University of Ireland, where he graduated in arts 1898 and with first-class honours in medicine, surgery, and obstetrics 1902. After serving as house surgeon and resident medical officer at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, he took courses at the Middlesex and London Hospitals and served as house surgeon at the last named.

Phillips went to the East as a Presbyterian medical missionary and practised for many years at Niuchang, North China, where he became surgeon to the General Hospital, and customs and port medical officer. His plague work was recognized by the Chinese government. He only paid one visit to England during his thirty years in China, when he took the Fellowship in 1912 though not previously a Member of the College. When the Japanese invaded China in the nineteen-thirties, Phillips came back to England and went into partnership with Charles Richard Wills, MB, at Matlock, West Derbyshire, and became medical officer to the Whitworth Hospital, Darleydale, near Matlock.

Phillips married in 1902 Irene, daughter of John Dickson, British consul-general at Jerusalem. He died suddenly at Darley Lodge, Matlock on 19 April 1945, survived by his wife, a son, who was in the IMS, and a daughter, serving in the WAAF. Phillips was very retiring and reserved. He wrote several stories and novels, which circulated among his intimate friends, but he could not be persuaded to seek their publication. His other relaxations were carpentry, and nature study on the lonely moors.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Lancet 1945, 1, 612, and Brit med J 1945, 1, 682, both with eulogies by W H Morton, FRCS Ed information given by his sister, Miss A G Phillips].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England