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Biographical entry Haycraft, John Berry (1888 - 1969)

MC 1915; MRCS and FRCS 1921; MB, ChB Edinburgh 1909.

10 August 1888
6 February 1969
General surgeon


Born at Edinburgh 10 August 1888, John Berry Haycraft was the elder son of the late Professor Berry Haycraft of the physiology department of the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire. His mother, before her marriage, was Miss Lily Stacpole, the well-known artist.

He was educated at the Cardiff High School and Edinburgh University. His early postgraduate appointments included resident pathologist, resident medical officer and house surgeon at the Birmingham General Hospital. On the outbreak of the first world war he joined the RAMC and attained the rank of Major as surgical specialist to No 1 CCS. He was mentioned in despatches in 1915 and awarded the Military Cross. He wrote on shell wounds of the chest and excision and primary suture of wounds, as well as the pericardium.

After demobilisation he was appointed part time assistant on the Surgical Unit under the late Professor Sheen at the Cardiff Royal Infirmary, and at the same time he put his plate up to commence private practice. In those days it was rather important to make contact with peripheral hospitals and this Haycraft did by being appointed to the Prince of Wales Orthopaedic Hospital, Rookwood Ministry of Pensions Hospital, Maesteg Miners' Hospital, Bridgend Cottage and Caerphilly Miners' Hospital. This meant day and night work dealing with all sorts of emergencies and particularly dealing with the hazards of the pre-antibiotic days. His forte was abdominal surgery and in this he certainly excelled. This led to an extensive private practice as the result of gaining the complete confidence of the profession.

As the result of his busy life he found no time to put pen to paper and his contributions to surgical literature ceased, but he was a faithful member of the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and of the Cardiff Medical Society, of which he was once its President.

His main circle of friends lay outside his profession. He was a keen sportsman, a good shot, keen golfer with a low handicap, and was at one time the Captain of Glamorganshire Golf Club, Penarth. His other outdoor interest was fishing, with an occasional excursion to the North Sea to catch tunny.

He married Miss Gertrude Kaye in March 1920 and after his retirement he and his wife made several extensive sea voyages, and in particular he loved to visit the Far East. He certainly enjoyed life to the full, his kindly heart, sensitive spirit, dominated his character and his word was his bond. He had a keen financial brain and he died a wealthy man. His wife predeceased him by two years and following this loss his will to live declined. He had four daughters, two of whom married into his profession, and their devotion to their father was an inspiration.

He died on 6 February 1969 at the age of 80.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Information from R D Owen, FRCS; Brit med J 1969, 1, 582].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England