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Biographical entry Whale, George Harold Lawson (1876 - 1943)

MRCS 13 February 1902; FRCS 13 June 1912; BA Cambridge 1898; MB BCh 1902; MD 1907: LRCP 1902.

23 August 1876
17 June 1943
ENT surgeon


Born at Woolwich on 23 August 1876, only son of George Whale, solicitor, and Matilda Whale, his wife. He was educated at Bradfield, at Jesus College, Cambridge, where he played lawn-tennis for the university club "The Grasshoppers", and at St Bartholomew's Hospital where he served as house physician. He was commissioned a lieutenant in the Indian Medical Service on l September 1902, promoted captain on 1 September 1905, but resigned on 30 November 1906, being invalided home with sprue. He used his experience of this illness for his Cambridge doctoral thesis in 1907. He then became chief assistant in the ear department at St Bartholomew's and later assistant surgeon to the Metropolitan Ear, Nose, and Throat Hospital, and was subsequently elected surgeon to the ear, nose, and throat departments of the Hampstead General Hospital and the National Temperance Hospital, and consulting surgeon for ear, nose, and throat to Caterham Hospital.

During the first world war he served with the rank of captain, RAMC (T) dated 5 September 1914, in France, winning the 1914 star, and later at the 53rd (1st City of London) General Hospital, and from 23 May 1916 at the 5th City of London. While serving in France he began to work at Val de Grace, the French Army Hospital, with Sir James Dundas Grant, KBE, FRCS, on plastic reconstruction of the neck and face, and published several books arising from this work on repair of injuries. All his books were conversational in manner and provocative in matter. He served for some years on the council of the section of laryngology of the Royal Society of Medicine.

During the second world war he was appointed surgical officer in charge of casualties, under the emergency service of the Ministry of Health, at Hampstead General Hospital. In this capacity he was accused in September 1940 of negligence and cruelty towards certain air-raid patients in a letter from a relative of these patients to the secretary of the hospital. Whale sued his accuser, Mr Thomas Sargant, for libel, but the case was settled out of court, Whale paying Sargant's costs. The judge in assenting to the settlement stated that Whale's acceptance of the defendant's good faith did not imply an admission that there was any cause for complaint, and added that there was no reflection on Whale. (Law Report, 22 and 24 October, in The Times 23 and 25 October 1941; Lancet, 1941, 2, 535, and 1942, 1, 124, a letter from the defendant; Brit med J 1942, 1, 94.)

Whale practised at 84 Wimpole Street. He died on 17 June 1943, suddenly and peacefully at St John's Wood Court. He suffered in later years from painful illness. He married in 1928, but the marriage was dissolved; there were no children. He was an excellent lawn-tennis player, and fond also of yachting, golf, and fishing.

Injuries of nose and throat, part of Oxford War Primer on Injuries of eyes, nose, throat, and ears, 1915.
Injuries of face and jaws. London, 1917.
Injuries to head and neck. London, 1919.
Modern treatment of diseases of the throat, nose, and ear. London, 1930.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times, 19 June 1943, p 6d; Crawford's Roll of the IMS, general list, No 256; Lancet, 1943, 2, 31; Brit med J 1943, 2, 183; information from J D Langton and Passmore, solicitors].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England