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Biographical entry Milligan, Edward Thomas Campbell (1886 - 1972)

OBE 1919; MRCS and FRCS 1919; FRACS 1930; MB BS 1910; MD Melbourne 1912.

23 June 1886
Waterloo, Victoria, Australia
4 January 1972
General surgeon


Edward Thomas Campbell Milligan was born on 23 June 1886 at Waterloo, near Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, where his father mined gold. When the gold vein ran out the family moved to Stanwell, near Melbourne. They came of Methodist stock and this showed its effects throughout Milligan's life, in his study, his surgery, and his philosophy.

He was educated at Ballarat College and graduated in medicine at Melbourne University with honours in surgery in 1910. He passed the MD in 1912, and was awarded a gold medal. Having held junior hospital appointments, including that of senior resident surgical officer at the Women and Children's Hospital, Melbourne, he came to Europe in 1914 with a Field Ambulance of the Australian Expeditionary Force, and remained on active service in France till December 1918, and was awarded the OBE. It is significant that as early as 1915 he published in the British Medical Journal on the treatment of war wounds by excision, and he must therefore have been a pioneer if not the pioneer in this most important advance in military surgery. He also wrote about his experience of shell shock, and the technique of blood transfusion.

After the war he settled in London, took the Fellowship in 1919, and was appointed to the consultant staff of several hospitals, the most important being St Mark's, the Croydon General, and the Seamen's Hospital, Greenwich, and soon established himself as a specialist in diseases of the rectum and anus and the genito-urinary system. In 1942 he was President of the Section of Proctology of the Royal Society of Medicine. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in 1930.

He was always keen to collaborate with his colleagues and to train his juniors by assisting them at operations. This kind of cooperation often involved more senior colleagues, and the combined abdomino-perineal operation for cancer of the rectum was a product of such activity. In 1951 when he was aged 65 he retired from hospital practice, but for the next 10 years he continued to be asked to advise in difficult cases in his own or other hospitals, and was always willing to assist at operations when requested to do so.

He and his wife were enthusiastic motorists and skiers, and after 1935 they were intimately associated with Moral Rearmament. Indeed because of their generous hospitality and their practical Christianity their home became known as the Church in Harley Street.

Milligan died after a short illness on 4 January 1972. His wife had died about two years previously, and they had no family.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1972, 1, 186, 317].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England