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Biographical entry Page, Sir Charles Max (1882 - 1963)

KBE 1946; CB 1944; DSO 1919; Officier, Légion d'Honneur 1948; MRCS 8 February 1906; FRCS 18 June 1908; LRCP 1906; MB BS London 1906; MS 1908; MA Oxford 1946.

2 September 1882
1 August 1963
General surgeon and Orthopaedic surgeon


Born on 2 September 1882 son of Charles Page of Oxton, Cheshire, he was educated at Westminster School and St Thomas's Hospital, where he had a brilliant career as student and athlete, gaining the Musgrove Scholarship for 1902-04, the Beaney Scholarship in 1907-08, the Cheselden medal, the Bristowe medal and many other prizes. He qualified in 1906 obtaining honours in the final London examination. In 1908 he was admitted a Fellow and became an MS being awarded a gold medal, both at the age of 25.

After qualification he filled a succession of resident surgical appointments at St Thomas's culminating with that of resident assistant surgeon. Towards the end of his tenure of this office in 1912, he volunteered to go to Constantinople as Senior Medical Officer of the British Red Cross Society's Turkish Detachment during the Balkan War of 1912-13, one of his assistants being Ronald Ogier Ward, and while there he devised a method for suspension of the limb with long-axis traction in the treatment of fractures of the lower extremity due to gunshot wounds, the suspension device becoming known afterwards as the Balkan beam and its principle being incorporated in the Pearson bed. On his return to civilian life he was appointed surgeon to the Victoria Hospital for Children, Tite Street, Chelsea, but in 1914 as a special reserve officer in the RAMC he was mobilised immediately and, proceeding to France, became a surgical specialist in 1915-16, serving in 1917 with the 29th Division and in 1918 as officer commanding a field ambulance in the 32nd Division. He was promoted Lieutenant-Colonel and was mentioned in dispatches three times, being later awarded the DSO and the Légion d'Honneur.

Once again returning to civilian life, he was immediately appointed to the consulting staff of St Thomas's as assistant surgeon, becoming a full surgeon in 1927. During his service in France he handled a large number of men with fractures of the lower limb, developing the experience gained during the Balkan war, and he was therefore appointed as one of the surgeons at the Ministry of Pensions Hospital at Shepherd's Bush for what by then had come to be known as orthopaedic cases. Here he was closely associated with his friend and contemporary Rowley Bristow, at that time in charge of the electrical department at St Thomas's and with whom he subsequently wrote The Treatment of Fractures in General Practice. He also continued as surgeon to the Victoria Hospital for Children and as a regular consultant to the Cottage Hospitals at Oxted and Cobham in Surrey. Although he was heavily involved in orthopaedic surgery, he preserved his interest in general and paediatric surgery, so that in 1933 he took over direction of the surgical unit at St Thomas's started by Sir Cuthbert Wallace in 1919, but which, as a matter of principle, never had a whole-time professor until 1946.

On the outbreak of war in 1939 he was again mobilised immediately as consulting surgeon to the BEF in France with the rank of Major-General, and as a result was involved in the collapse and evacuation in the spring of 1940. During the bitter winter of 1939 he contracted a virus pneumonia and resultant bronchiectasis, which rendered him unfit for further service abroad, but he was actively employed at home as consulting surgeon to the Army, first in Eastern Command centred on Cambridge, and later at Oxford where he organised an accident service at the Radcliffe Infirmary.

At the College he was appointed a member of the Court of Examiners in 1930, a member of Council in 1936 becoming Vice-President, a Hunterian Professor in 1924 and 1935, Bradshaw Lecturer in 1945, Hunterian Orator in 1951, and Robert Jones Lecturer in 1952. He was a member of the Committee of Management of the Conjoint Examining Board for eight years and its chairman from 1944 to 1946, and inspired the formation of the Examination Hall Rifle Club. For many years he acted as consulting surgeon to the Metropolitan Police in succession to Sir Charles Ballance, being associated with a great friend and contemporary Sir Maurice Cassidy, the Chief Medical Officer. This connection with the Police he kept up until the time of his death as he was deeply interested in the welfare of the Force, and, prior to the commencement of the National Health Service, St Thomas's was the official hospital of the Metropolitan Police.

His technical retirement from St Thomas's occurred in 1942, while he was absent on war service, so that he never returned to active work in the Hospital on leaving Oxford, but he did become a Governor and a member of the School Council. His home at Selling in Kent enabled him to act as adviser in surgery to the SE Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board and make periodic visits to London.

From early youth he was marked out for an outstanding career. Endowed with a magnificent physique and handsome appearance, he unconsciously dominated any gathering as a born leader of men. He inspired almost fanatical devotion and loyalty in those who worked with or served under him either in peace or in war. A big man in every sense of the term, subterfuge and intrigue were entirely unknown to him.

A natural athlete he excelled at football, tennis and golf and in later life devoted himself to shooting and the upkeep of his cherry orchards, keeping up an active interest in sport, particularly hospital Rugby football.

In 1913 he married Helen, daughter of Sir T W Holderness, first Baronet, GCB, and sister of Ernest, at one time amateur golf champion. They had two daughters and a son Colonel C E Page, Royal Corps of Signals.

He died suddenly in St Thomas's Hospital on 1 August 1963 a month before his eighty-first birthday. A memorial service was held in the Chapel of St Thomas's on 20 September 1963, at which the President and Council of the College were represented by Sir Clement Price-Thomas and R S Johnson-Gilbert the Secretary.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times 5 August 1963 p 10 E with portrait, 20 September 1963 memorial service, and 2 March 1964 description of Luton House, Selling; Lancet 1963, 2, 367 with good portrait and appreciation by R H O B Robinson; Brit med J 1948, 2, 276 Legion of Honour, 1963, 2, 391 and p. 448 with portrait and appreciations by N R Barrett and George Perkins, and p 507 by R Ogier Ward and Henry W S Wright; Ann Roy coll Surg Engl 1963, 33, 259-261 with portrait, by R H O B Robinson].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England