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Biographical entry Wyatt, James Montague

MRCS 27 July 1905; FRCS 8 December 1910; LRCP 1905; FRCOG foundation 1929; MB BS London 1911.

Obstetrician and gynaecologist


Born in 1883 son of Thomas Henry Wyatt MVO, a civil servant attached to the War Office, and Julia his wife, he was educated at Merchant Taylors School and St Thomas's Hospital, where he qualified in 1905, after having obtained honours in anatomy and physiology in the London MB examination and gained the Sutton Sams and Midwifery prizes. After serving house appointments as junior and senior obstetric house physician, he went out to Shanghai to join a general practice but returned to England to become resident medical officer at Queen Charlotte's Hospital and obstetric registrar and tutor at St Thomas's.

During the war of 1914-18 he served in the RAMC(T) with the rank of Captain posted to the 5th London General Hospital and also worked at Lady Ridley's Hospital for Officers in Carlton House Terrace. In 1919 he was appointed to the consultant staff of St Thomas's as the third member of the triumvirate John Fairbairn FRCS, "Jock" Hedley FRCS, and James Wyatt FRCS. He remained at St Thomas's until his retirement in 1946 as senior consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology. His other hospital appointments were as consulting surgeon to the Grosvenor Hospital for Women, now part of St Thomas's, and the Chelsea Hospital for Women.

He was an original Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of which he became Vice-President from 1946 to 1949 and he was the representative of the College on the Central Midwives Board from 1947 to 1952. An original member of the South-West Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board he served on many committees of the Board, in fact thirty-eight, and, as he had great faith in the potentialities of the Health Service, devoted much time and energy to his duties in spite of slowly deteriorating health. He was appointed a Governor of St Thomas's in 1945, an unusual distinction for an active member of the staff in the days before the Health Service, and after its inauguration in 1948 he was reappointed. His work for St Thomas's went much deeper than many realised as it was he who, after the death of the then Treasurer the Hon Sir Arthur Stanley in 1942 during the darkest period of the war of 1939-45, found co-treasurers in the persons of the Hon Patrick Kinnaird and the Hon Arthur Howard both of whom had been under his care in Lady Ridley's Hospital when, as young ensigns in the Scots Guards, they had both been severely wounded during the war of 1914-18. During the second world war Wyatt took up residence as Warden of the Manor House, the students' hostel at Godalming, as a centre had been established in this area forming a focus for the activities of the bombed-out St Thomas's in London, which at one period was reduced by enemy action to six operative beds out of six hundred and sixty and for the rest of the war never had more than one hundred and fifty beds operational. The pre-clinical students used the facilities of Charterhouse School and the clinical students and in-patients the ex-Australian EMS Hospital at Hydestile. It is not too much to say that, but for Wyatt's drive and devotion during the war, St Thomas's might well have ceased to exist as the majority of the consultant staff were dispersed to other centres or were absent on war service. Among his other duties he worked for the EMS at St Luke's Hospital, Guildford, then known as Warren Road, and during the time of Dunkirk and the Normandy invasion worked there as a surgeon.

An excellent teacher with a keen sense of humour, he took a tremendous interest in the welfare of the students not only in their work but also, as President and mentor of the Rugby club, in their play. He was particularly interested in amateur boxing both as physician and referee for the Amateur Boxing Association of which he became President and also of the Amateur International Boxing Association.

He examined in his subject for the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, London and Manchester and for the Conjoint Board. He was a member of the Fellowship Selection Committee of the College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and chairman of its Examination Committee in 1946-47. He contributed to Modern Trends in Obstetrics and Gynaecology in 1950 and wrote on the toxaemias of pregnancy.

Perenially youthful in bearing and appearance, he was a modest man of simple tastes with a heart of gold and a generous purse. Whether at his home in Park Village, Regent's Park or his country houses at Upton Grey near Basingstoke or at Mevagissey in Cornwall, he was always prepared to play host to any of his students, acting as cook: he excelled at the culinary art, and he always acted as sponsor of the Easter tour of the St Thomas's Rugby club visiting Cornwall.

He was unmarried and died on 31 July 1953 in St Thomas's Hospital aged 70. A memorial service was held in the Chapel of St Thomas's Hospital.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times 1 August 1953 p 8 f, 5 August p 8 d by Dr E M Buzzard, and 19 October p 10 e Will; Brit med J 1953, 2, 345; Lancet 1953, 2, 349].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England