Browse Fellows


www Lives

Biographical entry Tasker, Douglas George Clutsam (1893 - 1967)

Croix de Guerre 1915; MRCS 1916; FRCS 1920; BSc Bristol 1913; MB BS London 1916; MS 1920; LRCP 1916.

25 May 1893
18 December 1967
General surgeon


Douglas was born on 25 May 1893, was educated at Bristol University, and the Middlesex and London Hospitals. In 1913 he graduated BSc with first class honours after research in biochemistry. When war broke out in 1914, he joined the Worcester Regiment, and gave up his work as a medical student to serve as a combatant officer in the 6th Battalion. After a time he was sent back to England to finish his medical training. His short time as a combatant had been distinguished by outstanding service, and he was awarded the Croix de Guerre. In 1916 he returned to the armed forces, and was commissioned in the RAMC. He was now MB BS London, and was sent almost at once to the Middle East.

In 1918 after demobilisation he resumed his medical training at the Bristol General Hospital, where he served as house surgeon. In spite of its name this post was one of considerable responsibility, and today would be described as resident surgical officer.

He obtained the MS London, and the FRCS in 1920. He was appointed assistant surgeon at the Bristol General Hospital in 1923, and full surgeon in 1932. In 1939 the Bristol General Hospital and the Bristol Royal Infirmary amalgamated to form the Bristol Royal Hospital, and he served on the staff until his retirement in 1958. He worked at many cottage hospitals including Berkeley, Clevedon, Cossham, and also worked as surgical consultant to the Bristol Mental Hospitals.

During his time as surgeon to the teaching hospital he had a considerable private practice, built up a large connection in compensation work, and was employed by many insurance companies and solicitors. His reports were accurate, factual and impartial, so that he was seldom seen in Court. His opinion was much sought and when he did appear in Court he was an excellent witness. His evidence was always scrupulously fair and correct, and no counsel ever got him to retract any statement of importance. This interest in legal work, led to election to the council of the Medical Defence Union, of which he became Vice-President. This work he enjoyed enormously, and on many occasions was consulted by colleagues about their difficulties, and they received good advice.

As a teacher he was popular with students, and there was keen competition to be his house surgeon. His surgery was competent, conservative and simple; he had no use for complicated procedures, and often made difficult operations look easy. He enjoyed a challenge, and an operation which really thrilled him was a difficult recurrent hernia, preferably recurrent for the third or fourth time! At this kind of case he excelled, and was a master of the fascial strip repair, and always used fascia lata where possible. He had no use for filigrees or other foreign materials. His results with this type of case were outstanding.

"Duggie" Tasker had a nice sense of humour, and when operating there was often considerable interchange of badinage between himself and the anaesthetist. As a de-bunker and leg-puller he was superb, and the staff luncheon table was always the scene of good fun when he was there. He was well-informed on many subjects, and was able to keep up conversation on almost any subject. For many years he was a very heavy cigarette smoker, but his self-control and strength of mind, enabled him to give it up suddenly and completely. In his earlier days, he was a keen golfer who hit a very long ball; he gave this up in favour of tennis, but in later years went back to golf. After retirement he had time for gardening, and his vegetable garden was an example of what such a garden should be.

He was Chairman of the South Western Regional Board's Registrar's Committee, held strong views on the training of registrars, and introduced a period of progress and rationalisation in the registrar's training programme.

He died at Downs Edge, Stoke Bishop, Bristol on 18 December 1967 aged 74, survived by his wife and their son.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1968, 1, 60 by Robert V Cooke, H L Shepherd and G M Fitzgibbon].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England