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Biographical entry Price Thomas, Sir Clement (1893 - 1973)

KCVO 1951; Warsaw Decoration 1960; MRCS 1921; FRCS 1923; LRCP 1921; FRCP 1968; Hon FACS 1954; Hon LLD Wales 1953; Hon LLD Belfast 1962; Hon MD Paris 1954; Hon MD Lisbon 1964; Hon MD Karachi 1966; Hon MD Athens 1970.

22 November 1893
Abercam, Monmouthshire
19 March 1973
Thoracic surgeon


Clement Price Thomas was born on 22 November 1893 at Abercam, Monmouthshire, where his father was a merchant. His mother's father was a minister of religion. He was the youngest of a large family and went to school first at Newport High School and later at Caterham School whence he passed on to the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire. He then entered the Cardiff Medical School where he won the Hughes Medal in anatomy, and an entrance scholarship to the Westminster Hospital Medical School for his clinical work.

During the first world war he served as a private in the 32nd Field Ambulance from 1914-1918 in Gallipoli, Macedonia and Palestine. Price Thomas qualified with the Conjoint Board Diploma in 1921 and held several junior appointments at the Westminster Hospital and passed the FRCS in 1923. He was surgical registrar at Westminster for 3 years and in 1927 was elected to the staff of the hospital. During his period of training he was influenced by Ernest Rock Carling, G T Mullally and Tudor Edwards who gave him his introduction to thoracic surgery which was to become the specialty in which he excelled, and which ultimately gained him world-wide recognition, as evidence by the numerous honorary degrees awarded by universities at home and abroad.

In addition to his duties at the Westminster Hospital Price Thomas was appointed surgeon to the Brompton Hospital for Diseases of the Chest. He also served as consultant in thoracic surgery to the Army and the Royal Air Force, and consultant to the King Edward VII Sanatorium, Midhurst, to the Royal National Hospital, Ventnor, and to the Welsh National Memorial Association South Wales, and was adviser in thoracic surgery to the Ministry of Health. When in 1951 it was decided that King George VI needed surgical treatment for a diseased lung, Price Thomas undertook the operation, the successful outcome of which was rewarded by the Knighthood of the Royal Victorian Order.

Such clinical appointments constitute but one area of activity in his remarkable career, another of which included his contributions to many academic bodies, prominent among them being the Royal College of Surgeons which he served as a member of the Court of Examiners from 1948-1952; as a member of the Council from 1952-1964, being Vice-President in 1962-1964, as Tudor Edwards Memorial Lecturer in 1959, Vicary Lecturer in 1960, and Bradshaw Lecturer in 1963. He was also elected President of the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland, of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, of the Royal Society of Medicine, of the British Medical Association, of the Welsh National School of Medicine, and of the Medical Protection Society. These honours came to him partly, of course, because of his capability as a leader, but also because of his innate modesty and natural good humour which endeared him to all who knew him well.

In 1925 he married Ethel Doris, daughter of Mortimer Ricks of Paignton, South Devon, and he and Dorrie were a devoted couple whose warm friendship was enjoyed by Clem's colleagues and acquaintances. They had two sons, one of whom became a Fellow of the College. In what little spare time he had he enjoyed a game of golf and was interested in photography and reading. Latterly he suffered from the lung disease for which he had treated so many patients, and which he bore for several years with exemplary courage and patience. He died on 19 March 1973, aged 79, and his wife and sons survived him.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times 1973, 20 March; Brit med J 1973, 1, 807; Lancet 1973, 1, 731].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England