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Biographical entry Herbert, Frederick Ironsides (1915 - 1970)

MRCS and FRCS 1949; MB BS Durham 1939.

23 January 1915
20 February 1970
General surgeon and Plastic surgeon


Born in Gateshead on 23 January 1915 the eldest son of Thomas John Frederick Herbert, an engineer and his wife Edith, nee Ironsides, he was educated at the Royal Grammar School, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and the Medical School, Durham University, graduating MB, BS, in 1939. During his student days he was a redoubtable left arm fast bowler, and played for the Universities Athletics Union at Cricket for five seasons, a feat only possible at that time to students in the lengthy medical training. He also represented his county until a war injury forced his premature retirement.

During the second world war he served in the RAMC with the Dorset & Hants Yeomanry, and then the 94th Field Regiment until injured in the Normandy Campaign. He was mentioned in despatches.

After demobilisation he returned to the Royal Victoria Infirmary as a registrar, and then a senior registrar in general surgery, obtaining the FRCS in June 1949. The same year he began training in plastic surgery with Mr Fenton Braithwaite. Three years later he was appointed as a consultant plastic surgeon to the Newcastle Regional Hospital Board, attached to Shotley Bridge General Hospital, the Fleming Memorial Hospital for Sick Children in Newcastle, and the Sunderland General Hospital.

In his later years he took an increasing interest in the affairs of the British Medical Association, being secretary of the Consultants and Specialists Committee for the Newcastle area, and also honorary secretary of the Regional Committee for Hospital Medical Services. He also participated in the affairs of the British Association of Plastic Surgery Nurses.

His sound clinical assessment, coupled with considerable technical skill as a surgeon, led to a busy professional life, from which at times he managed to escape into a private world of building model engines and locomotives, or photographing sea birds and wildlife on the Farne Islands, and other remote sanctuaries of the Northumbrian coast.

An able and persuasive speaker, he wrote little; and his ideas and charm survive only in the memory of his audiences. Herbert married Marie Goldsbrough in 1943 who survived him with their two sons Frederick and John. He died on 20 February 1970 aged 55 years from coronary thrombosis.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1970, 1, 697, with portrait, and appreciation by R C Bell; Lancet 1970, 1, 480 with appreciation by John Serjeant].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England