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Biographical entry Mullally, Gerald Thomas (1887 - 1969)

MC; MRCS 1913; FRCS 1914; MB BS London 1910; MS 1920; LRCP 1913.

31 October 1887
Ballarat, Victoria, Australia
16 April 1969
General surgeon


Gerald Thomas Mullally was born on 31 October 1887 in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, whither his father, William Mullally, MD, who had been in family practice in Tipperary, had emigrated, and where he died of an untreated acute appendicitis with peritonitis when young, Gerald being about 10 years old at that time.

He returned with his mother and the rest of the family to England, where they made their home. His mother was a remarkable person, who, without doubt, did a great deal to shape Mullally's character and outlook on life. He was educated at St Vincent's College, Castleknock, Ireland and, having decided to follow his father's profession, entered Guy's Hospital. The direction he was to follow was influenced by his gaining the Treasurer's Gold Medal for clinical surgery. As a student his chief pastime was walking, and the South Downs became for him almost as familiar as the streets of the Borough.

He qualified with the MB BS in 1910, and in 1913 he took the Conjoint Diploma, enabling him to take his final FRCS in 1914. The MS he passed after the war in 1920. He was called up to the Army in 1914, having been on the supplementary reserve; for distinguished service he was mentioned in dispatches, and was awarded the Military Cross. He spent the greater part of his time with No 8 Casualty Clearing Station in France, which for him was doubly fortunate. It was here that he met his wife Mollie, to whom he was utterly devoted, and also those who, at the instigation of Lord Moynihan, were to form the surgical club known as the Junior Moynihan Club in the first year of its existence, but thereafter as the Travelling Surgical Club. This was the contact which "Mull", as he was affectionately called, cherished greatly and never failed to refer to the benefit gained by this association, both from the visits to the outstanding continental surgical clinics, which were the object of their annual pilgrimages, but also from the fruitful discussions engendered amongst the members by these visits. It was during the discussions that followed the day's work, that Mull's shrewd clinical acumen became manifest.

Mull did not write very much, despite the fact that his first publication after the war, on gas gangrene, was, in its way, almost a classic. He was seen at his best at the bedside, in the outpatient departments and in the theatre. He was essentially shy and retiring in his ordinary contacts, a quiet man with a puckish sense of humour. When, however, he was carrying out his surgical responsibilities, he was assured and impressive.

He communicated his knowledge freely, especially to those who sought his opinion, and to the young and uninitiated his discourse was simple and soundly based. He was intensely human and understanding; as a technical surgeon he was deft and neat, there were scarcely any unnecessary movements and, although quiet and unhurried, he completed his task without delay and certainly with no waste of time. His thesis was that only the best is good enough.

Mullally was on the staff of the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth for many years, and lived in a house in the hospital grounds during the second world war so as to be at hand for emergencies. He served on the Conjoint Board and Court of Examiners for the Final Fellowship from 1936-1943. He also examined for the University of Cambridge.

Mull will be remembered by those fortunate enough to have known him for his absolute integrity, his friendship and quiet sense of humour, and for his ability to command the confidence and moreover also the affection of those with whom he came in contact. He died on 16 April 1969 aged 81, and was survived by his wife, a son, and two daughters of whom the elder became a doctor.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1969, 2, 317, 454, 640].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England