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Biographical entry Kelham, Roy Dyson Langdale (1891 - 1964)

OBE 1944; MRCS 29 July 1915; FRCS by election 21 April 1955; LRCP 1915.

25 May 1891
19 February 1964
Orthopaedic surgeon


Born in Hertfordshire on 25 May 1891 and educated at Repton and University College Hospital, where he qualified MRCS, LRCP in 1915, he served in the RAMC during the war of 1914-18, attained the rank of Major, and then joined his father-in-law's Brighton practice for a short time.

Mechanical things fascinated Kelham, and having good hands he liked to use them so found a natural milieu in the limb-fitting service of the Ministry of Pensions. Kelham gained experience in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Bath, and then joined the staff of the Limb Centre at Queen Mary's Hospital, Roehampton, where the remainder of his professional life was spent. He realised the need to prepare the patient for wearing the limb, to teach him its use, and to reinstate him in society. He was one of the first to practise rehabilitation, and provided systematic training for doctors coming into the work.
During the second world war the resources of Roehampton were extended to meet the expected Service and civilian casualties. He had faith in the ability of properly fitted amputees to hold their own in society, and through lecture-demonstrations to the profession and to industrialists he ensured for disabled persons the right to work on even terms with their fellows. He was created OBE in 1944 in recognition of his war effort. The following year the Free French Government bestowed on him the Médaille d'Honneur du Service de Santé Militaire.

Kelham was promoted to take charge of the national limb service soon after the war. His great experience and wisdom were by this time in demand internationally, so that he served on a number of committees organised by WHO and the Brussels Treaty Organisation, and took part in the 1954 International Prosthetics Conference at which Henry Kessler, the American expert on rehabilitation, described Kelham as the father of limb-fitting. He retired at the age limit in 1956, but returned to work for two more years in the Research Department at Roehampton until a day or two before his final illness.

Kelham did all things well and retained his boyish enthusiasm to the end of his life. He made exquisite models, he loved small boats and fast cars, and his lasting joy was luring enormous trout with minute flies on gossamer casts from the waters of the Argyllshire lochs on days when all others failed.

He lived at The Limes, Newlands Avenue, Thames Ditton, and died on 19 February 1964 aged 72, survived by his wife and their married son.


Amputations and artificial limbs, with George Perkins. Oxford University Press 1942.
Amputations and limb-fitting, in Official History of the Second World War, Surgery 1953.
Mental effects of amputation. Brit med J 1958, 1, 334.

The Royal College of Surgeons of England