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Biographical entry Pye-Smith, Charles Derwent (1878 - 1965)

MC 1914; DSO and bar 1918; MRCS 1903; FRCS 1905; MB London 1903; BS 1905; LRCP 1903.

General practitioner and General surgeon


Charles Derwent Pye-Smith was born in Sheffield in 1878, but came south for his education at Mill Hill School and Guy's Hospital. He qualified with the Conjoint Diploma in 1903 and in the same year passed the examination for the MB degree in the University of London, but did not complete the BS till 1905. He took the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons in the same year and then returned to the North to enter general practice in Huddersfield. It must have been his intention to practise as a GP surgeon, and this may be regarded as an early indication of the shyness which always caused him to underrate his capability.

In 1914 he joined the RAMC and in the Army his sterling qualities could be assessed and rewarded more adequately. He was mentioned in dispatches in 1916, 1917 and 1918, in 1917 he was awarded the MC and the DSO, to which a bar was added in 1918; at the end of the war he retired with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.

Returning to civil life in 1919 he was appointed honorary surgeon to the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and served in that capacity until he reached the retiring age of 60 in 1938, when he was made consulting surgeon and so continued till 1947. The high esteem in which he was held by his colleagues is shown by his appointment as President of the Huddersfield Medical Society, and also Chairman of the Huddersfield Division of the British Medical Association.

His was an unusual personality for he was a physician-surgeon who was interested in medicine as a way of life rather than a career. The experience he gained from close attention to detail made him a first-class clinician, and a wise counsellor to many young surgeons who benefited from his friendship and training. His disciplined life and his humility were inspired by his Christian convictions, and it was therefore natural that he served as a churchwarden of the parish church.

He retired to Bakewell in Derbyshire where he could enjoy the beauty of the country, which was a real delight to him, and he was able to follow his literary and musical hobbies and also trout fishing. He was unmarried, and he died in 1965 at the age of 86, after an illness which brought him back as a patient to his old hospital. In his will he left money for artists painting the countryside surrounding Huddersfield and whose work was to be exhibited at the local art gallery.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1965, 2, 540].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England