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Biographical entry Capps, Frederick Cecil Wray (1898 - 1970)

MRCS 1921; FRCS 1924; LRCP 1921.

17 May 1898
12 June 1970
ENT surgeon


Capps was born in the Naval Hospital, Gibralter, on 17 May 1898, the only son of Fleet-Surgeon Frederick A Capps, who lost his life in action at the Battle of Jutland (1916). With this family background he was from an early age destined for a career in the Royal Navy, and accordingly entered the Royal Naval College, Osborne as a Cadet in 1911. Two years later, when the time came for him to proceed to Dartmouth Naval College, he failed to pass the stringent eyesight tests required for entry, so in 1913 he was transferred to Epsom College. Here he had a distinguished school career, winning prizes for science and English essay, and passing the 1st MB London with distinction in physics. In addition he was a member and secretary of the first rugby football XV. In 1916 he entered the Medical College of St Bartholomew's Hospital with the Epsom College scholarship, and before qualification with the Conjoint Diploma in 1921 established an outstanding place among his contemporaries by gaining the Treasurer's and Foster Prizes in anatomy, as well as the Brackenbury Scholarship in surgery. There followed a year as house surgeon to Holburt Waring and Harold Wilson, a discipline in general surgery of a very high order, which did much to mould his future surgical outlook. In 1923 he joined the nose and throat and the ear departments, which were then still separate though sister departments, as house surgeon to Douglas Harmer and Sydney Scott, the respective heads of these two departments, and thus began an active connection which persisted unbroken until his retirement forty years later. While acting as chief assistant in the ear department he also served in succession as junior demonstrator of anatomy, and of pathology, until, on the retirement of Frank Rose in 1930, he was elected to the visiting staff as assistant surgeon to the nose and throat department. In 1947 he became surgeon-in-charge of the amalgamated ear, nose and throat department, serving till his retirement in 1963. In addition to his clinical and teaching duties at St Bartholomew's he served as Chairman of the Medical Council, as a Governor of the Hospital, and a member of the Hospital Planning Committee, and was Treasurer and later Vice-President of the Medical College. He also found time for many outside appointments, as ear, nose and throat surgeon to the Metropolitan Hospital, the Willesden General Hospital, the Luton and Dunstable Hospital, the West Suffolk General Hospital and the London County Council. He became consulting laryngologist to the Royal Navy, and aural referee to the Treasury Medical Service and Civil Service Commission.

During the first world war he served in 1917-18 as Surgeon Probationer in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, with the rank of Sub-Lieutenant. In the second world war he was, from the onset, Deputy Hospital Officer of Sector III in the Emergency Medical Service, succeeding Sir William Girling Ball in 1945 as Sector Hospital Officer.

He was a member of the Court of Examiners of the Royal College of Surgeons 1952-58, and also examined for Part I of the Diploma of Laryngo┬Člogy and Otology 1951-56. He was President of the Section of Laryngology of the Royal Society of Medicine in 1951-52, and was at the time of his death President of the United Services Section of the Society. In 1957 he delivered the Semon Lecture of the University of London, and was awarded the Semon Medal. When the Fourth International Congress of Otolaryngology was held in London in 1949, he acted as General Secretary and showed great powers of organisation in overcoming the many difficulties still prevailing during the post-war years.

Between 1945 and 1951 he was honorary secretary of the newly formed British Association of Otolaryngology, and was Vice-President 1951-53.

He married Gertrude Margareta Torell, a Swedish lady, in 1931; there were two sons and two daughters of the marriage. His elder son Peter qualified in medicine in 1956, and became consultant paediatrician in the Shrewsbury Hospital Group. His younger daughter Joan trained as a nurse at St Bartholomew's, and was ward sister there to the Surgical Professorial Unit until her marriage in 1969.

His death from a sudden heart attack occurred at his home in Regent's Park on 12 June 1970.


Lympho-epithelioma of nasopharynx. J Laryngol Otol 1939, 54, 3.
Malignant disease of the paranasal sinuses. Ann Roy Coll Surg Eng 1949, 4, 38-47. Tumours of glomus jugulare of tympanic body. Brit Surg Progress 1954, pp89-104. Abductor paralysis in theory and practice since Semon. Semon Lecture, 1957. J Laryngol Otol 1958, 72, 1-31.
Four recent cases of juvenile nasopharyngeal angiofibroma. J Laryngol Otol 1961, 75, 924-931.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times 19 June 1970; Brit med J 1970, 2, 799; Ann Roy Coll Surg Eng 1970, 47, 120-121; St Bart's Hosp J 1970, 74, 295-296].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England