Browse Fellows


www Lives

Biographical entry James, John Alexander (1887 - 1965)

CBE 1959; OBE 1951; MRCS and FRCS 1925; MB ChM Sydney 1911; FRACS 1930.

21 May 1887
Berry, New South Wales, Australia
25 February 1965
General surgeon, Medical Officer and Physician


John Alexander James was born on 21 May 1887 at Berry, New South Wales, and was educated at the Brisbane Grammar School, where he distinguished himself by becoming Captain of the School, and a member of the Rifle Shooting Team which was the first to win the Empire Competition. After graduating in medicine at the University of Sydney in 1911 he held resident posts at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and the Coast Hospital, Sydney, till the outbreak of the first world war when he joined the 5th Field Ambulance and saw service in Gallipoli and in France. For a time he was DADMS of the 4th Division AIF, and ultimately took command of his old Field Ambulance.

On demobilization he returned to a resident post at the Coast Hospital for two years, and then came back to England for a period of post-graduate study which earned him the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 1925. James then went to Canberra, first as medical superintendent of the Canberra Hospital, and then, after obtaining the Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in 1930, he was appointed honorary medical officer to the Canberra Community Hospital, continuing in that post and in private practice till his retirement in 1963.

This outline of a distinguished professional career must be amplified by reference to his sterling character and his interests and attainments in other fields. At school and University he proved himself a first class athlete, gaining blues in both cricket and football, and he continued to play cricket for a time in Canberra, though later he turned to tennis and golf, and was an active patron of various sports clubs.

His interest in military medicine was maintained through an association with the Royal Military College, Duntroon. His quiet but firm demeanour inspired confidence, though in spite of his skill and experience he never hesitated to seek the advice of a colleague when he thought it advisable to do so, for it was obvious that he put the welfare of his patients before any consideration of personal prestige. He became physician to the Governor-General and to the Government House Staff and took an active interest in the affairs of the growing capital city. For these services to medicine and the community he was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1951, and a Commander of the Order in 1959.

In 1929 Jack James married Miss Sheila Cary, whose vivacity and steadfast support made her an ideal partner. When he died on 25 February 1965 he was survived by his wife, a daughter who was a member of the nursing profession, and two sons, one of whom became a doctor.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Med J Aust 1965, 1, 736].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England